How to Be Indispensable
Yesterday morning, I woke up from a dream. As I shook off the sleep, the word “indispensable” echoed in my brain.
I splashed water on my face.
I burpeed myself into oblivion at the gym.
I played blocks on the floor with my 3 year old. Even through 20 renditions of “London Bridge,” it was there with me.
I finally decided to pay attention to the message my subconscious was trying to get through to my big, fat head.
I sat down to think.
What does it mean?
Why is it important?
Am I indispensable to my husband, my daughter, to my clients, and to my employees?
I want to be. Who likes to be irrelevant, replaceable or easily discarded? Nobody. Especially not me.
I took stock of the important relationships in my life. As I thought about each one, I made a mental checklist, wondering whether I was doing everything I could to make myself an indispensable fill in the blank. I realized I was doing better in some relationships than others.
I noticed that in many areas, there was room for improvement.
Today, I begin. I want to start showing up big for my life. I only have one chance to do things right while I’m on this planet, so I’ve come up with a plan.
Here it is.
1. I’m going to contribute.
Contribution is about more than just showing up. It’s about participating. It’s about encouraging the conversation.
Contribution is being committed. It’s about getting off the bench so you can be a player in the game. It’s about putting yourself on the line because you want to push the limits to be the best fill in the blank you can.
Today, I’m going to talk, actively listen and engage.
I’m going to contribute.
2. I’m going to come up with new ideas.
Yes, I’m a creature of habit. Yes, I’m resistant to change. Yes, it’s much easier to stick to the status quo. Sticking to what’s tried and true ensures I don’t have to strain my brain by actually having to think.
But…now…I’ve started to think. <ouch>
Someone recently told me that if you’re in a comfort zone, you’re in a danger zone. As much as the thought of pulling muscles troubles me, I believe that statement is true.
Comfort = Complacency = Stagnation—->Death.
I want to grow. I want to innovate. I want to say, do and be fresh.
I’m going to start thinking more so I can come up with new ideas. I want to live my life with a twist. By doing this, I hope I can put a little creamer in the coffee of every person I meet.
3. I’m going to ask what I can do for others.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:
It’s not about you.
It’s also not about what other people can do for you.
It’s about what you can do for them.
Just for a minute, I’m going to put Numero Uno second. I’m going to ask the important people in my life how they are doing, but not just in a passing “Hi, how are you doing?” sort of way.
I’m going to stop. Make eye contact. Then ask the question.
“How ARE you?”
I’m going to listen for what the other person needs. I’m going to try to figure out if there’s any way I can help. If I can’t, I will ask,
“How can I help?”
Then, I will follow through and do what I can do.
4. I’m not going to take things personally.
Sometimes when I ask people how I can help, they have the nerve to actually tell me how I could do better or be better. Usually when this happens, I get violently offended. Then I start reacting and making up stories about what the other person is thinking.
I’m going to stop doing this. I’m going to stick to the facts (just like they taught me in law school). I will buck up and earnestly consider what my critics say to and about me. I will be willing to admit when there is truth to someone’s assessment of my faults.
I will do my best to turn things around.
For the other person.
And for me.
5. I will go the extra mile.
Being indispensable means I may have to put in a little more effort in than I would like at times. (i.e., spending an hour at the end of every day reading Cat In the Hat and other assorted Dr. Seuss books when I’d rather be watching Orange is the New Black.)
It could mean focusing on being present with each person when I am with that person (by not checking my Facebook news feed when our attention should be focused on one other).
It may require increasing the amount of time I have historically spent tending to the relationship (by reorganizing my day, plans or arrangements to give attention to person who requires it).
I’ve been kicked to the curb before.
I don’t like it.
If there’s anything I can do to prevent this from happening in the future, I will.
I will become more invested in the relationships that matter the most.
I will own my role in the success (or failure) of any relationship I have.
I will do my best to be indispensable.