Do You Believe You Are Indispensable?

Over the past 8 months, both of my parents and my father-in-law were hospitalized and have undergone surgeries; two open heart surgeries and one gall bladder removal.

The aging process is inevitable.

However, just because someone is 80 plus doesn't mean that they have accepted the slowing down part of aging. Whether you are in your 30's, 40's, 50's or beyond... our minds and wills can be so strong that we don't acknowledge or accept that our bodies may not be the same as they used to be.

During the early part of my mother's recovery period from her aortic valve replacement, she struggled with her lack of energy and overall malaise. She was impatient to be back to where she once was. We can all relate to this as we are most appreciative of our health when it's absent. Fortunately for her, and for many of us, the absence of health is temporary.

We believe that invincibility is solely reserved for teens and young adults. However, people of all ages exhibit the belief that they are invincible in one way or another. Just think about the matriarchal martyr in your family and how she believes nobody can survive without her.

In the workplace this belief shows up as a sense of indispensability. You know you are in this mindset when you think your company, department, team or boss just couldn't operate without you; or let alone survive if you were to be "downsized" out of your position regardless of your 10, 20 or even 30 years of personal contributions.

And yet it happens. Frequently.

And companies, departments, teams and bosses manage to go on with the work.

Without you.

My dad gave me great advice early in my career, which I wish I had understood earlier. He said "Remember that you are never indispensable; there is always someone able and willing to take on the job after you."

The way I see it is our jobs are like our health. Too often we only appreciate them or pay attention to them once they are gone. Our bodies are like skills; we need to keep them fit and up for the challenge by never forgetting that we are neither invincible nor indispensable.

Due to my work as a coach during an economically challenging time, I know one too many people dealing with the aftermath of being downsized. The emotional turmoil and anger that accompanies this experience can be a lot like the slow and arduous recovery of a physical ailment.

What's the antidote?

Time. And a mind shift.

The biggest mind shift that we all need to make, whether gainfully employed or not, is that we can never just rest on our accomplishments of the past. Today, we are in a knowledge economy where ideas and thought leadership is the currency of value. As employees we are required to behave in an entrepreneurial fashion, keeping pace with the newest and best of ideas and thinking. We must continue to strive to add value and to learn new skills each and every day. We must recognize and leverage our unique strengths and leverage them.

Neglecting to exercise and stretch your skills is like neglecting your body. Years of abuse or neglect have its repercussions.

In truth, we can't control what happens to us, but we can certainly create an environment that optimizes our ability to learn and grow without a sense of entitlement, invincibility or indispensability.

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