Have you ever asked yourself to what extent you are co-dependent? The clinical definition of co-dependency is very harsh, however, we are all co-dependent to some extent. Many of us are unaware of this and especially do not see how it can be one of the greatest obstacles to living the life we want and creating value for our companies.

My personal journey of self-awareness began many years ago, but only recently have I fully understood just how much energy gets blocked by this mechanism. We are told we are half an apple that is looking for its other half… actually, I prefer to think we are an apple, butter or flour and that life is a cake!

In a recent @CocreaSA meeting, my colleague @Franco Macchi used a metaphor that I like a lot: we are cogs in a machine that only functions with the parts we don’t have. As long as we continue with the presumption of being perfect circles, we can’t get very far or connect with others… therefore we cannot add butter to our flour. All we can do is look for someone “concave” to dominate. We alternate between being perfect circles and transforming into “concave” entities, but rarely do our inner workings function together with others.

In co-dependency we are concave and think we are performing well but actually this is only in function of the approval of another person. In this, we lose sight of what we want. We become more concerned about what others want and thus live complaisantly, measuring our value through our ability to resolve someone else’s problem. This dynamic is present not only in our personal lives but also within companies: the renunciation of our responsibility for who we are and our expression of freedom has an impact on the creation of value. How often have you thought this is not the way things should be done and you do them all the same, because the stock market, the president, the vice-president, your boss or colleague asked you to? How often have you avoided difficult conversations only because you were afraid of hurting someone? Or of being misunderstood? Or of making a poor impression that hurts your image? This has happened to me many times. How often have you decided not to ask for something you need? Even today, I find it difficult to define what I need. Over the last few years, I have counterintuitively understood that, when I know what I need, it facilitates the other person. Accepting that I have missing parts and allowing myself to be in a vulnerable space allows for a coming together that creates value and makes a difference.

Not making use of such a space is a cost to companies, the most significant of which occurs often and is something we are all familiar with: latent mistrust, working without believing in the work you do, achieving only what is necessary, as well as a lack of enthusiasm and energy. What is the cost to companies? Alternatively, we act like we are able to resolve a problem in order to show our worth and even end up manipulating other people in the process as we strive to convince them that what we think is something that is good for them. In the end, essentially, what is important is that I have no fault, that I feel ok about myself, that I’ve done my job even if results were not achieved. And the creation of value? Where is that creativity that would have allowed us to lean one on the other and find a different path, an intuition, a space of experimentation and the courage to dare. All of which has been sacrificed on the altar of feeling “ok”. In the meantime, we consume energy, enthusiasm, aspirations and meaning, and lose sight of a lifetime opportunity for ourselves and for others, all the while without creating value.

So, if this sounds familiar to you, I leave you with a question that helped me a lot: “what is the limit, whether in a personal or professional relationship, beyond which you are not willing to go?” Defining this with clarity, from this moment forward, has freed me from a doubt that is toxic. Take a close look at that limit and if the relationship or job is important to you, ask yourself what you can do differently in order that that limit is never reached. What is the fear we are asked to face in order to create what we want to create? The choice is ours.