Covey also introduces the Maturity Continuum. These are three successive stages of increasing maturity: dependence, independence, and interdependence. At birth, everybody is dependent, and characteristics of dependence may linger; this is the first and lowest stage of maturity.
Dependence means you need others to get what you want. All of us began life as an infant, depending on others for nurturing and sustenance. I may be intellectually dependent on other people’s thinking; I may be emotionally dependent on other people’s affirmation and validation of me. Dependence is the attitude of “you": you take care of me… or you don’t come through and I blame you for the result.
Independence means you are pretty much free from the external influence [and] support of others. … Independence is the attitude of “I". … It is the avowed goal of many individuals, and also many social movements, to enthrone independence as the highest level of achievement, but it is not the ultimate goal in effective living. There is a far more mature and more advanced level.
The third and highest level in the Maturity Continuum is interdependence. … We live in an interdependent reality. Interdependence is essential for good leaders; good team players; a successful marriage or family life; in organisations. Interdependence is the attitude of “we": we can co-operate; we can be a team; we can combine our talents.— Stephen Covey, The 7 habits of highly effective people (1998)
Each of the first three habits is intended to help achieve independence. The next three habits are intended to help achieve interdependence. The final, seventh habit is intended to help maintain these achievements. Each of the seven habits has a chapter of the book