Radical Mutuality

The first time I read the term “radical mutuality” I became giddy.

I was reading a piece my boss shared with our team, A Nation of Weavers, written by David Brooks of the New York Times when that term entered my lexicon. Its meaning, while not specifically defined, connected with me on a level that few other terms have in a long time. In the article, they write about experiences that they had while researching hyper-individualism. My favorite quote from one of the people they interviewed stated “We don’t do things for people, we don’t do things to people, we do things with people.”

What many don’t realize about me is that I am science-oriented person by nature. I majored in biology, not business or HR, in college and while I think I’ve done pretty well in my chosen field, I still have a love for science, specifically, the life sciences.

This term, “radical mutuality” resonates with me because it reminds me of the symbiotic nature of so many relationships that we need to have as humans. This goes beyond our mere need to be needed, but instead suggests that there is a very real connection that happens whether we intend for it too or not. It’s these interconnected elements that can lead to our ultimate success in life.

In one of my previous positions, we debated whether we should be striving to build up people’s independence without ensuring that there was an interdependence that was just as strong. Thankfully, we landed in a place where we emphasized connection with the larger community rather than a singular focus on an individual’s own ability (or disability).

One of the challenges many of us right now in an economy that has low jobless rates is finding the talent we need in our organizations. I suggest that the concept of radical mutuality can help us in attracting and retaining valuable talent. Building interdependence and treating people the right way can make an organization stand out. Pair that with a valuable mission and vision, you can achieve great things with the great people you are certain to attract.

Do even better. Figure out how you can help push this radical mutuality not just in your own organizations, but in the larger world as well.



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