can you be indispensable at work?

Originally published 2009

When a former boss left work, at one of the last leaving parties where there was real emotion from all and even a golden watch, I thought, ‘he’s irreplacable, he built this department and it will fall apart without him. We’ll see him around here all of the time and they’ll probably have to get him back as a consultant.’

But companies have a natural intertia, they just don’t change that quick, the wounds slowly heal. So, we never saw him again and the department continues in much the same vein under new management. We soon forgot him.

I can be a workaholic, especially when I feel I’m adding something special to what we do, taking it somewhere others wouldn’t go. But I have learnt that none of us are indispensable. I’ve moved on from projects, and while I’d like to think they meandered on rather rudderless without me, no one really noticed and the walls definitely didn’t cave in.

I sometimes wish I was my own boss (again) so I would be indispensable, but then there is more to life, and other ways to leave a legacy. As a colleague said to me today, ‘the company owes me nothing, and I owe it nothing… I’m wedded to my wife, not my job.’  He’ll leave a legacy, but it won’t die with the short term loyalties of his staff.

Ok, so you might want to make sure your boss thinks you are indispensable and can’t get rid of you, but I know that it is as a parent that I have found my true place