How replaceable are you?

There’s a lie that exists in the culture of a lot of industries. From the companies’ point of view it’s very convenient for us to keep believing this lie:

That we could ever be irreplaceable. That if we can make ourselves valuable enough, there’ll always be a spot for us, if not here than somewhere.

Hear me out and don’t get me wrong. Working hard is an honourable (even biblical) thing. But a quick search around the internet will tell you that it’s not enough. Forbes tells us that you need to get yourself connected with valuable relationships. Robert Half details that you need to treat yourself like an asset: worth too much to let go.

But it doesn’t change the underlying untrue employer benefit paradigm: “if you’re a nice guy who’s good at their job you’ll do well.”

Here’s why I disagree. There are lots of nice people who are really good at their job.There’s so many, that the company can always find another one. My point here may be unpopular, but bear with me.

No matter how ‘valuable’ you make yourself, someone else can always replace you in your employed position. Sure they might not do it as well…… but they can do it. They may also do it for cheaper, and with less hassle. They might even be more competent than you.

What the company can’t replace, is you as a person.

They can’t replace you as biological parent for your kid. They can’t replace your relationships as a sibling or friend. No one can replace you as the person who walks your daughter down the aisle. Who is the first husband/wife of your spouse. Who can take them out on date night. Who changed the life of someone by believing in them, teaching them how to walk/read/ride a bike/drive.

You get my point.

The truth is, companies making people believe that hard work and networking will make them ‘irreplaceable’ suits them down to the ground, because it makes them work harder without getting paid more.

Leadership guru Andy Stanley (you should check him out) does a much better job explaining it than me, but sums it up like this:

Don’t sacrifice what is uniquely you, for something someone else can do.

As a paramedic, I see people’s lives fall about on a weekly basis. An injury, an accident, a heart attack. Always unexpected. Always unplanned for. I meet people who were made redundant or whose business went bust. All of them worked hard. Only some of them are happy.

And it’s not the ones who dedicated their life to the company.

There will always be another crisis. There will always be another meeting/ overtime. I’ve experimented with this and said no to a few ‘urgent’ things. They still got done. By someone else.

Don’t fall for the lie. Work hard. Be a nice guy. But don’t sacrifice the things that are unique to your life, so someone else can make more money.

“No amount of success outside the home, makes up for failure within it”. – Unknown

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