A few months ago, I wrote about why you shouldn't build Lego on your own (The Fragility of Lego—two minute read).
That post was an early exploration into something I've been thinking a lot about recently:
Self-reliance vs. other-reliance.
Let's imagine that you're making pancakes on a Saturday morning.
All is going swimmingly until you realize you're out of maple syrup.
The grocery store is a two-minute drive.
The neighbour's house is a seven-second or 25-second walk, depending on the neighbour.
If your first instinct is to drive to the store, you might be self-reliant.
If you choose to go tap on a neighbour's door, you might be other-reliant.
If you don't like maple syrup, stop reading.
I'm being a bit playful here—although this literally happened to our family last weekend—but this pattern can stretch far beyond the need for maple syrup.
Like most things, I don't think this is a binary, it's often situation-dependent.
But, like most things that look like a binary, I think we each have a default stance.
This concept entered my mind again recently because of a short line that I heard on a podcast:
"I'm worried about the asymmetry that it's easier to break things than to fix them," - Sam Harris on the Lex Fridman Podcast Ep. #365.
This is a scary truth isn't it? It's easier to break something than to fix it.
Things can break quickly too. This can be especially jarring.
If you've built something on your own by being self-reliant, then when it breaks, you carry the pain alone.
Others might see it and empathize with it, but it's hard for them to actually carry it.
If you choose to build something with others by being other-reliant, then when it breaks, you share the pain.
Someone else, together with you, put a part of themselves into something that's now broken, and so they can actually go beyond empathizing with your pain, because they will carry some of it themselves.
Things break all the time. Ideas fail all the time.
Building things together, will make you more robust.
Choose to be more other-reliant.