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Archive for September 14th, 2010

“For peace of mind, resign as general manager of the universe.”
– Larry Eisenberg

I am completely indispensable. At work, they can’t get along without me. At home, everything would disintegrate into chaos if I wasn’t there. I am needed—desperately and without question.

If these statements reflect how you view yourself at work and/or at home, ask yourself the question: what’s in it for you to be so indispensable?

Your first reaction may be to protest that it’s not about you at all. You simply have so much to do for everyone else: your boss, your co-workers, your spouse, your children, your family, your friends…

You may even view your indispensability as a virtue. You feel good about yourself because of how much you do or give to others. The flip side of it, however, is that you may also have a lot of resentment for exactly the same reason: you do so much for others that you don’t have anything left for yourself. No matter that you were the one who volunteered, who didn’t ask for help, and who actually turned down the assistance that was offered.

You may view your indispensability as a necessity. It’s critical that you are there overseeing every little thing. It’ll all go to hell in a hand basket of you aren’t there. Nobody else seems to be stepping up to the plate. If you don’t do it . . . who will?

  1. Is being indispensable your way of getting others to like you or to help you feel important?
  2. Do you equate doing for others with showing love?
  3. Do you believe that you’re not important enough in your being-ness, so you have to “sweeten the deal” with your doing-ness?
  4. Do you think, “If it’s going to be done right then I’m the one who has to do it.”?
  5. As you do all the work and take all the responsibility, who are you keeping small and inadequate? Your co-workers? Your spouse? Your children? 

Doing all the work or doing for others won’t work if it’s not balanced. If you have gifts to share, it is truly a virtue to do so with an open and glad heart. In order to give, however, you must also receive, whether that means allowing someone to do something for you or to share in the experience with others.

Empower your employees by listening to their ideas and work with them to chart out their course of action. Get agreement on the results to be produced and then let them do it. If you are always stepping in and telling people how to do things, you will kill off their participation, smother creativity and personal responsibility. You may just discover, they will do the job even better than you.

Letting go and allowing others to do for themselves empowers them—and you. As parents know, when children reach the age of not needing help with every little thing it is important to let go and allow them to do for themselves (even if it isn’t the way you would do it). How else are children going to learn to become accountable and fully functioning as adults?

When you shift your thinking and realize that you’re not indispensable, you can let go of your need to do everything yourself or to give all the time. You can focus more on the big issues or on yourself, including the development of the gifts and talents that you have that make an even greater contribution. You’re no longer feeding the fire of resentment that burns inside you. Instead, you have greater peace of mind and those around you feel better, too!.

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