When Being Indispensable Is Not a Good Thing
Written by: David J. Volk, Esq. | August 6, 2017
Will it all come crashing down if we are away for two weeks? In most cases, no, it will not. If we fear it will, we have to think about that and try to fix it. I am going to direct you to a book that will open your eyes to a new way of thinking about your life. If you engage in life-long learning, you stumble across things like this that can make things better. Always, try to make things better. If you don’t do it, who will do it for you?
We talked about goal setting in a previous post and this topic is about a very important goal: change the way you view your work. This is geared more towards business owners. It applies to employees in a different way as well. You have to think deeply, what is my role here and how can I do it in a more personally rewarding fashion. Am I chained to my desk or happy to be here? Can I make changes that will take me to having that happy chair?
I use a law office management service named Atticus to gain wisdom on how to operate my firm and to develop systems to achieve our objectives. Currently, I have a few monthly coaching sessions that are pure gold in terms of defining and committing to improvements and new ways of seeing things. About twenty years ago, I attended a half day teaser seminar with that company and then signed up for what turned out to be a two day twenty two hour seminar on everything from getting clients to keeping them happy to ways to delegate work to creating systems that will result in standardized outcomes. At the outset, the presenter Mark Powers asked us budding entrepreneurs, do you have a job or a business? He also said that when we are able to take two week vacations, we will have taken that great step in owning a business instead of a job. If you are wondering, I am still trying to figure it out. Prior to the coaching program, I attended a lot of webinars. This learning thing should never stop. As I said, I think the principle of a two week vacation can apply to employees as well. In either event, you are going to have to educate some people that what you are doing is a fine thing and in the best interests of the company. (Or, maybe, that they will let you try it. Once.)
This post is, by the way, to celebrate the fact that I have finally decided to take a two week vacation. At almost thirty years of unbroken work in essentially the same job but with progressively growing responsibilities, it is time. I assume I will electronically poke my head in the door from time to time to make sure they can still live without me. We are implementing video conferencing and refining some office systems and personnel practices. Slowly but surely, I am empowering my team to complete lawsuit and business tasks relying more on our standardized practices than asking me to micromanage work.
Michael Gerber’s book, The E-Myth Revisited, is the best business book I have ever read. It has a simple premise: if you own a business, there is a very good chance you started out as a talented technician in your field before deciding you wanted to own your own business. So, you get the business started and, effectively, someone hands you two more hats to wear. In addition to your technician hat, you now have to also wear entrepreneur and manager hats. The entrepreneur part of your job revolves around getting customers. The manager hat revolves around daily recurring problems like paying bills and dealing with personnel issues. (Yes, everyone has personnel issues. Most owners who want to do good work would tell you it is the most difficult part of owning a business.) Great employees suffer a similar fate. The better they are, the more that is expected of them. Bum employees get less and less responsibility; great employees get more and more. The winners, of course, want more responsibility. They are conscientious and understand they are needed and that people are counting on them.
So, as many of you know, wearing three hats is uncomfortable. It can get hot and itchy under all that material. As time goes on and the business gets better and bigger or your job responsibilities grow, you may still feel chained to your desk.
Whether you own a business or a career, the conventional wisdom is that by convincing others that you are indispensible, you will accrue riches and job security. Many of us start out our work life journey thinking that business success is the only thing that could possibly matter. Unfortunately, that approach can leave faith, family, and friends on the sidelines. Faith, family, and friends don’t like being relegated to the sidelines. Let’s throw in a fourth F, fun. Coincidentally, those frequently overlap. Like business and career success though, we have to value them. We have to make a conscious effort to devote time to all the F’s. We have to enjoy all parts of our life or we will have a troubled soul. Devoting all your time and energy to work creates conflict and unhappiness. You can still be awesome at work while having the work and personal life balance. You simply have to work at it. To work at it, it has to be important to you.
So, how can you reprogram the minds of those that insist you are indispensable and that you can’t go anywhere, ever, let alone for two weeks? This brings us to my final recommendation which I am reading now. This seems to take the Atticus and Gerber lessons, and tells me, ‘David, it can be better.’ The book: The Four-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss. I don’t think I will make it to that magnificent four-hour concept any time soon, but it has gotten me thinking, ‘I don’t have to feel chained to the desk.’ I can create different ways of work and deploying personnel to be indispensable in a more narrowly drawn way. How you work with others can materially change your life. If you micro-manage, you need to stop. You are hurting yourself and the others around you who want greater responsibility and to feel good about accomplishing things without being led around by the nose. Ferriss is a big fan of looking at things differently. For instance, did you know you can hire virtual assistants in foreign countries? He tells us how. Wait until your read about how he uses those. If you read this, you might not become the next Tim Ferriss, but you probably will view life differently. There are better ways to succeed than through brute force. This mindset, modified for your circumstances, can take you there.
Here are the reviews from the amazon website, https://www.amazon.com/4-Hour-Workweek-Escape-Live-Anywhere/dp/0307465357, where you can order the book:
"It's about time this book was written. It is a long-overdue manifesto for the mobile lifestyle, and Tim Ferriss is the ideal ambassador. This will be huge." —Jack Canfield, Co-creator of Chicken Soup for the Soul®, 100+ million copies sold
"This is a whole new ball game. Highly recommended." —Dr. Stewart D. Friedman, Director of the Work/Life Integration Project, The Wharton School
"Stunning and amazing. From mini-retirements to outsourcing your life, it's all here. Whether you're a wage slave or a Fortune 500 CEO, this book will change your life!" —Phil Town, #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Rule #1
"The 4-Hour Workweek is a new way of solving a very old problem: just how can we work to live and prevent our lives from being all about work? A world of infinite options awaits those who would read this book and be inspired by it!" —Michael E. Gerber, Founder & Chairman of E-Myth Worldwide and the World's #1 Small Business Guru
“Timothy has packed more lives into his 29 years than Steve Jobs has in his 51.” —Tom Foremski, Journalist and Publisher of SiliconValleyWatcher.com
“Thanks to Tim Ferriss, I have more time in my life to travel, spend time with family and write book blurbs. This is a dazzling and highly useful work.” —A.J. Jacobs, Editor-at-Large, Esquire Magazine, Author of The Know-It-All
"If you want to live life on your own terms, this is your blueprint." —Mike Maples, Co-founder of Motive Communications (IPO to $260M market cap), Founding Executive of Tivoli (sold to IBM for $750M)
"Tim is Indiana Jones for the digital age. I've already used his advice to go spearfishing on remote islands and ski the best hidden slopes of Argentina. Simply put, do what he says and you can live like a millionaire." —Albert Pope, Derivatives Trading, UBS World Headquarters
“This engaging book makes you ask the most important question that you will ever face: What exactly is it that you want out of work and life, and why? Tim Ferriss is a master of getting more for less, often with the help of people he doesn't even know, and here he gives away his secrets for fulfilling your dreams.” —Bo Burlingham, Editor-at-Large, Inc. magazine and author of Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Instead of Big
"Reading this book is like putting a few zeros on your income. Tim brings lifestyle to a new level–listen to him!" —Michael D. Kerlin, McKinsey & Company Consultant to Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund and J. William Fulbright Scholar
"Part scientist and part adventure hunter, Tim Ferriss has created a road map for an entirely new world. I devoured this book in one sitting–I have seen nothing like it." —Charles L. Brock, Chairman and CEO, Brock Capital Group; Former CFO, COO, and General Counsel, Scholastic, Inc.; Former President, Harvard Law School Association
"Outsourcing is no longer just for Fortune 500 companies. Small and mid-sized firms, as well as busy professionals, can outsource their work to increase their productivity and free time for more important commitments. It's time for the world to take advantage of this revolution.” —Vivek Kulkarni, CEO Brickwork India and former IT Secretary, Bangalore;Credited as the “techno-bureaucrat” who helped make Bangalore an IT destination in India
"Tim is the master! I should know. I followed his rags to riches path and watched him transform himself from competitive fighter to entrepreneur. He tears apart conventional assumptions until he finds a better way."—Dan Partland, Emmy Award-Winning Producer; American High, Welcome to the Dollhouse
"The 4-Hour Workweek is an absolute necessity for those adventurous souls who want to live life to its fullest. Buy it and read it before you sacrifice any more!" —John Lusk, Group Product Manager, Microsoft World Headquarters
"If you want to live your dreams now, and not in 20 or 30 years, buy this book!" —Laura Roden, Chairman of the Silicon Valley Association of Start-up Entrepreneurs;Lecturer in Corporate Finance, San Jose State University
“With this kind of time management and focus on the important things in life, people should be able to get 15 times as much done in a normal work week.” —Tim Draper, Founder, Draper Fisher Jurvetson; Financiers to innovators including Hotmail, Skype, and Overture.com
"Tim Ferriss’s book is about gaining the courage to streamline your life… But even more than that, it challenges the reader to seriously consider an essential–yet rarely asked–question: What do you really want from life?" —Rolf Potts, Author of Vagabonding and Travel Columnist for Yahoo! News
"Tim has done what most people only dream of doing. I can't believe he is going to let his secrets out of the bag. This book is a must read!" —Stephen Key, Top Inventor and Team Designer of Teddy Ruxpin, Lazer Tag; Consultant to “American Inventor”
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