The Problem with Self-Reliance

McArthur River near Blockade Glacier

"I can do it myself" has been my mantra since I built forts under rhubarb leaves and trekked through golden wheat fields on my way to the day's adventure.

I grew up in Montana, and a strong spirit of independence woven deep into the fabric of who I am.

Add that I love solitude and being alone, and you have a stacked strength of self-reliance.

Which is a good thing.


When I'm focused on a dream or goal that's way outside anything I've done before.

I grapple with what asking for help says about my character.

I find myself proving over and over that "I can do it myself!"

(Proving "what" really??)

This redundant "proving" has ended in failure many, many times because the behavior is motivated by a false belief.

Pure independence is a myth. It's true we need inner strength and resilience, but none of us are self-made.

Like it or not, we're tribal to our core and need others to survive. No one actually survives a life purely alone.

Just for fun, let's test the myth.

When we say, "I did it myself," are we being honest about who contributed to our success?

Do we acknowledge the administrative staff who processes our applications to school, the crew who paves and plows the road to our interviews, the people who do the tactical work on the projects we lead?

Do we feel appreciation for the folks who show us who we don't want to be?

I know I forget.

I get caught up in the myth and glory of self-made independence.

Sometimes the very cultural socialization that makes us strong and keeps us safe, also kills our momentum toward our dreams.

When children are young and learning to walk, no one expects them to figure it out alone. We smile for countless hours as we hold the tiny fingers of little ones wobbling around finding their balance. For years, we soothe the tears and bruises that come with mastering such a simple skill.

And so it is with your own growth and learning.

There's value in asking for assistance.

It's worth challenging the belief that you need to do it alone.

Is the myth of independence one you're finally ready to put down?

I'm curious how you'd benefit from some added support.

I'd love to know.

Warmly, Shannon