The Maturity Continuum

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How do you develop your personal and interpersonal effectiveness?
Effectiveness can only be gained if you continue to grow mature!

Maturity is a process from dependence to independence to interdependence.


We each begin life as an infant, totally dependent on others. We are directed, nurtured, and sustained by others. Without this nurturing, we would only live a few hours or days.

Dependence is the paradigm of you

  • You take care of me
  • You come through for me
  • You didn’t came through for me
  • I blame you…

Dependent people need others to get what they want. Stephen R. Covey

If I were physically dependent – paralyzed – I would need you to help me.
If I were emotionally dependent, my sense of worth would dome from your opinion of me.
If I were intellectually dependent, I would count on you to do my thinking for me.


Over the years, we become more and more independent – physically, mentally, emotionally and financially – until we can take care of ourselves, becoming inner-directed and self-reliant.

Independence is the paradigm of I

  • I can do it
  • I am responsible
  • I am self-reliant
  • I can choose

Independent people can get what they want through their own effort.

Our social worldview enthrones independence. It is the goal of many individuals and social movements – as if communication, teamwork and cooperation were of lesser value.

True independence of character empowers us to act rather than be acted upon. It frees us from our dependence on circumstances and other people and is a worthy, liberation goal. But it is not the ultimate goal in effective living.

Independence is not supreme! Stephen R. Covey

Independent people who do not have the maturity to thing and act interdependently may be good individual producers, but they won’t be good leaders or team players.


As we continue to mature, we become aware of that all of nature is interdependent, that there is an ecological system that governs nature, including society. We discover that the higher reaches of our nature have to do with our relationships with others.

Human life is interdependent! Stephen R. Covey

Interdependence is the paradigm of we

  • We can do it
  • We can cooperate
  • We can combine our talents and abilities and create something greater together.

Interdependent people combine their own efforts with the efforts of others to achieve their greatest success.

The interdependence concept appears to many to smack of dependence, and therefore, we find people often for selfish reasons, leaving their marriages, abandoning their children, and forsaking all kinds of social responsibility – all in the name of independence.
Stephen R. Covey

Life is by nature, highly interdependent.

To try to achieve maximum effectiveness through independence is like trying to play tennis with a golf club. Stephen R. Covey

Interdependence is a far more mature and advanced concept!

If I am physically interdependent, I am self-reliant and capable, but I also realize that you and I working together can accomplish far more than, even at my best, I can accomplish alone.

If I am emotionally interdependent, I derive a great sense of worth within myself, but I also recognize the need for love, for giving, and for receiving love from others.

If I am intellectually interdependent, I realize that I need the best thinking of other people to join with my own.

As an interdependent person, I have the opportunity to share myself deeply, meaningfully, with others, and I have access to the vast resources of other human beings.

Interdependence is a choice only independent people can make.

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Leadership Reflection

Book to this topic
7 Habits of highly effective people
German: Die 7 Wege zur Effektivität: Prinzipien für persönlichen und beruflichen Erfolg

3 thoughts on “The Maturity Continuum”

  1. I liked it very much. I think usually (and I also say it for myself) we tend to think achieving independence will represent the peak of every area in our lifes, even in our personal relationship with God we could say “I can grow in knowledge of the word and the person of God by myself” “I can pass through this situation “alone” with God” But there is definetely a need to go beyond and look to what is around us…relationships are key for interdependence. GBU

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