Don’t Be Indispensable – If You Want To Get Ahead

Many people think that if you want to get ahead you need to make yourself indispensable. This sounds logical and intuitive, but it is wrong.

Being indispensable is a fine way to gain job security, but this is not the same as getting ahead and job security is never permanent no matter how indispensable you are. Eventually some person, some technology, or plain bad luck will disrupt the status quo and your job security will disappear.

The truth is that if you make yourself indispensable, you can’t take a vacation without being bothered. If you are indispensable, you can’t get promoted because it would be too inconvenient to backfill your position. If you are indispensable, you will continue to be stuck doing the same job, the same tasks, until that job ceases to exist.

You don’t want to be indispensable.

This does not mean you shouldn’t do a good job. You need to do a good job. You should be doing a great job. But don’t be the only one that can do that job. Be a leader. Be dynamic. Teach others to do the job as well as you. If the job is too hard for others to do, then find ways to make it simpler. Create processes, procedures and tools that make your job so simple a hamster could do it. Make yourself obsolete.

As you become obsolete, expand your job to include other difficult tasks. Become great at doing those tasks. Find ways to make doing those tasks simple. Teach others to do them. Make yourself obsolete.

Make yourself obsolete. Make yourself obsolete, again and again.

Soon you will find that you are not great at doing tasks. You are great at solving problems. You are great at seeing the big picture and breaking it down into simple components. You will not be indispensable in your job because you are an expert at finding ways other people can do your job easier and cheaper.

You can be promoted and you can get ahead because you are not indispensable in your current job and the next job is always harder. Until you start doing it…

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One Comment on “Don’t Be Indispensable – If You Want To Get Ahead”

  • #1  JJ

    This makes a lot of sense. It’s a natural logic. Like everything else in the world, your job must evolve. You can learn things in the process.

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