Where are you right this moment in your business or career? Do you feel like there should be something more to your life? Do you have an incomplete feeling, like somehow there’s something you should be doing … but you don’t know what it is? Or have you arrived at a place where you thought you would be happy and satisfied with your career, but you still feel like there’s something else you need to do?

If you feel this way, perhaps you’re unsure of your part in some “grand scheme” of things. Maybe you’ve never thought about the big picture of where you stand in the natural lifecycle of a business owner. It just might be that you’re stuck in a phase that you didn’t realize existed.

If you’re coming to a point in your self-development that these existential questions are popping up from time to time, then maybe that’s a sign that you’re ready to know what those life phases are. This article can help you find the answers.

The Three Phases Of Effective People

Stephen Covey, in his book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People describes the natural evolution of an effective person. He says we all have essentially three major phases in life. Here they are:

  1. Dependence

  2. Independence

  3. Interdependence

The first two are pretty straightforward. The third may leave a big question mark above your heads. Let’s get down to explaining them in the context of a hypercreative person’s life.

Phase 1: The Dependent “Wantepreneur”

At an early age, we depend on our primary caregivers such as parents or guardians to provide our necessities. As we progress through life, we will learn to take care of our own basic needs. We hit a big milestone as teenagers when we get that first car. What a sense of freedom and independence! We have dreams of making money and maybe even owning our own business someday.

But we’re still dependent on quite a few things. We may live at home, so we still depend on our parents for housing. We depend on our employer for a paycheck. We depend on the school to provide education so that we can get a good job, and so on. We chafe at the bit, looking forward to the day when we will be free of having to be so dependent.

After graduating college, this newly minted productive member of society may find that they’re still dependent on quite a few things. They may get a job at a firm or company. They may even, as a bright and shining star who captures the attention of leadership, achieve a management position, or head up an entire portion of the company. The dream of business ownership becomes drowned in the everyday business of working to impress those at the company who their success is attached to.

When they work for a company or organization, they get a steady paycheck which (hopfully) increases over the years. If, however, the only paycheck they receive is from the place where they work full time, then they’re still dependent on a single source for all their income.

Phase 2: The Independent Entrepreneur

This entrepreneur is the fiercely independent type. They’ve learned what they needed to do to be a successful solo business owner, and started a business. More learning occurred as they ran the business… they’ve had ups and downs, but they’re still surviving.

Their dependency level has definitely gone down, since they don’t rely on a single company for one source of income, but a number of sources. This might be in the form of a solo freelancer that has a number of people that call on them. Maybe they’re a highly sought after consultant with a stable portfolio of happy clients. They may lose a client or two, but they know how to get more.

They are their own boss. They’re sufficiently self-motivated to wake up in the morning and do what they need to do in order to get clients, do their work, and make a profit.

But the only downside is… things can get a bit lonely for the independent entrepreneur.  They might occasionally go out with a client or attend a networking event, but most of the time, they’re the only person in their home office or workplace for hours on end. While they may like this, some people may refer to them as reclusive, or a hermit. And while they like their independence and privacy, there might be a deep feeling of isolation that they somehow can’t quite shake.

They also might be aware that they have a resistance to working or collaborating with other like-minded entrepreneurs. They see them as competition and they don’t want to “spill their secrets.” They might not want to delegate their work to others because they’re afraid the quality might not be up to their high standards. Or maybe their pride in their work just won’t let them involve other people… they worked hard to build this business, and they’re not ready to share the spotlight with someone else.

People at this stage of evolved thinking may have what is known as a scarcity mentality, which is a way of looking at the world (and their field within it) as a place of limited resources. The scarcity mentality causes them to say things like:

  • I’d better not share my knowledge, I don’t want anybody to steal it.
  • I don’t like sharing my ideas, I’m afraid of people taking them to my other clients.
  • I don’t want to tell anybody about my process… I need every advantage I can get.
  • I don’t really like hiring people… they just mess stuff up over and over again. I’d rather do it myself, that way I know it’s done correctly.

Many of us stop there, thinking that’s all there is to our entrepreneurial lives. Well, there’s a whole other phase that we may not know about.

Phase 3: The Interdependent Entrepreneur

The interdependent entrepreneur may have already achieved independence. However, they voluntarily seek relationships where they depend on people, and are in turn depended upon. They seek to give generously to the lives of others, without expecting anything in return. This creates a very special “generosity economy”, where the giver is truly giving a gift. Anything gotten in return is graciously accepted, and while not absolutely needed, contributes to the generous relationship.

They willingly share their professional and personal knowledge with other entrepreneurs, feeding into their lives. They do this believing that they will be rewarded for their generosity at some point in the future. They do this because they have an abundance mentality, which is a way of seeing the world as a place of virtually infinite resources and potential.

They are able to expand and grow their business and sphere of influence because they’ve become known as a thought-leader in their business community. Word of mouth spreads about their abilities and they’re approached about consulting, speaking, or joint venture opportunities. In this way, they’re able to generate multiple income streams from their expertise.

The interdependent entrepreneur is also active socially, gives to charitable causes, and genuinely cares for others.

They wake up each day excited and energized more than if they just lived for themselves… because they live and create for others, too.

You Don’t Have to Wait

The good news is, you don’t necessarily have to wait for independence to become interdependent. While you may still depend on others for income, you can still create systems where you are interdependent on other people in giving relationships.

In fact, you may find that when you put others first and give to them generously, then you will inevitably find your own purse jingling with coins a short time later.

We live in a time where so much more is transparent than it was before… it’s become more difficult for selfish people to pull shyster tactics on people to get them to buy in to their schemes. The day is upon us where your personality and character are all up on the internet for all the world to see. If they see that you live your life in a kind and generous way, then you will very likely have plenty of fans and followers.

Ideas on helping you become the interdependent business person you were meant to be:

  • Practice your best smile and use it whenever you see somebody.
  • Serve as a mentor to developing entrepreneurs.
  • Refer to people by name when you speak to them.
  • Contribute financially or materially to a charity of your choice.
  • Teach at a community development center or library.

The interdependent entrepreneur is the pinnacle of what all business leaders who want the most out of life should aspire to be. This person is a cornerstone of society, a paragon of inspiration to others, and somebody that you have every right and potential to be.

Where are you in your career’s lifecycle? Are you dependent and feeling like there’s something more out there? Or have you achieved true interdependence and have some tips for us to share? Please let me know in the comments below.