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The Indispensable Person


The cemetaries of the world are full of Indispensable Men.  Charles de Gaulle

One of the keys to being in high demand is to make yourself difficult to replace. However make no mistake, no one, not even you, are infallible or indispensable.

Now, we could save ourselves a lot of heartache, both personal and professional, if we could detach ourselves from the arrogant need to be irreplaceable in a person’s life or in a corporation.

I came across this poem , published in a company newsletter, when I was just starting my career and was in my very first job. With the cynicism of extreme youth, and fresh from the protection of the academic world, even though it made an impression on me, I spurned the wisdom in it as it seemed like all effort was in vain.

The Indispensable Man

by Saxon White Kessinger

Sometime when you’re feeling important;
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom:
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You’re the best qualified in the room:
Sometime when you feel that your going,
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how they humble your soul.

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining,
Is a measure of how much you”ll be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you’ll find that in no  time,
It looks quite the same as before.

The moral of this quaint example,
Is to do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself, but remember,
There’s no indispensable man!


Like a lot of wise sayings and people that come across our path, this is one that has remained with me through the years.

Consequently it made me realize that I could give my very best effort to a company, and still be forgotten from the corporate memory in very short order. They may regret your leaving for a few days, but will inevitable replace you with someone else and life will go on in their part of the world, as though you never existed, with scant regard for the hours of your life that you traded  while with them.

Initially, this was a hard fact to swallow and one that made me feel very insignificant. For a while it was disheartening to see how little value was placed on one’s efforts, and how quickly one faded from significance and view.

I frequently pondered over it, and with maturity and reflection on my life’s experiences, it has taken on a new meaning.

In time, I realized that what was more important was that one should not withhold one’s best efforts in any endeavour in exchange for recognition and reward. It is sufficient for you to remember that you gave your best, and that no one else’s opinion matters as much as your own.

For if you give a half hearted response to the events that are strategically placed in your life for your growth, you will emerge undeveloped and dissatisfied with your lot in life.

On the other hand when you give it your best shot, regardless of the outcome, and choose to live life at full throttle, giving every new endeavour your best effort, you will have inevitably created a ripple of energy in other people’s lives, who by emulating your example or by benefiting from your efforts, can bring about a surge of passionate leaders who bring about positive change far beyond your lifetime.

Yes, it is true that life is short but our efforts are not in vain. We may not be indispensable, but in the grand scheme of things we each play a significant part! And our fellowmen and women who have gone before us and who now lie in graveyards around the world, have paved the way for us to live in freedom. We owe it to the generations to come, to do the same.

Are you striving to be indispensable or to make a significant difference wherever you may pass on your journey through life ?


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Categories : Leadership


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