You Are Dispensable…Yes, You!

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The erroneous impression that things cannot go well without one’s presence or a job can hardly be done without a person’s involvement is one of those misconceptions that irks me to no end. It is commonplace. The staff with an over bloated ego who saunters around the office like he is the next best thing after ice-cream. The benefactor who carries himself like a Tin god because (unknown to him) he has been given the privilege to be a helper to the less privileged, and even the husband who sees his wife’s success as solely dependent on him. Well, today, I am writing to burst your bubble if you are in any of these categories. Contrary to your myopic notion, things can and will go as planned without you.

I feel a mixture of amusement, annoyance and irritation when I come across people who overtly or covertly brag about their importance in the scheme of things. The pseudo-alpha individual among a group of friends who assumes they are the fragile thread that hold the rest together. The undoubtedly brilliant but egotistic student in class who sees himself as his colleagues’ pathway to success all because they often appeal to him to take them on some tutorial against the forthcoming exams. The secretary who believes she has the key to oga’s heart and as such can frustrate the efforts of anyone in whom she is less than pleased to see her boss.

Many times, we mouth “No one is indispensable” without doing a self-check to determine if by our words or actions, we are guilty of acting as though we were indispensable ourselves. The twist of fate in all of this is that life has a way of forcing us to be humble eventually. I have seen people whom everyone swore would rise to the peak of their careers in an organisation get fired unceremoniously. I have seen couples separate, and one of them going on to make a mind blowing success of their life against all odds, even when people wondered how they would survive without their “better half” at the time of the separation/divorce. I have seen hitherto obscure people step seamlessly into the seemingly big shoes someone left behind when they left a job or project. What’s more, even doing a much better job than their highly regarded predecessor.

Dear reader, too much talent abounds in a world of over 7 billion people for any one person to be missed for too long. I am not disputing that there are rare gems in every generation, but at the end of the day they are human too and it is only a matter of time before whatever they might have achieved will be surpassed by somebody else. Think of the world’s biggest superstars, in the music industry for example, before the Ushers and Chris Brown’s was Micheal Jackson – crowned the undisputed King of Pop while he was alive. But many of us forget that before Micheal Jackson was Elvis Presley, who was widely regarded as the King of Rock and Roll and ruled the airwaves for many years before his demise. Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo have broken virtually every record in football. Till this day, many who were huge fans of the legendary Pele can hardly believe how much these guys have eclipsed many of his achievements with their outstanding exploits in the round leather game.

Every time we believe we have the seen the best that could possibly come out in a certain field of endeavour, another trumps it before we can say Jack Robinson. It all lends credence to the fact that no one is indispensable. At best it would take a couple of years or even decades to replace a particularly special person. But at the end of the day they are replaced and even have their records smashed to smithereens.

If Ty Bello didn’t take up Olajumoke Orisaguna’s case which led to a lot a media buzz and catapaulted her into instant stardom, believe it or not someone else would have done so. Providence had destined it to happen regardless of who was going to used as a vessel to bring it to reality. So what if you helped someone get a lucrative job after spending a decade in the unemployment market? Yes, you assisted that neighbour of yours to secure the elusive contract he had been pursuing for so long. Big deal. You appear to be the only person that depressed church member can turn to. You are the superstar at work who has the boss’s ears and can simply do no wrong and so you prance around thinking everyone has to perceive your fart as a sweet smelling perfume. Hello, it’s only a matter of time before you realize that no one is an island and the belief that things cannot run smoothly without a particular person is nothing but a fallacy.

The greatest form of dependence is that of the relationship between a child and his parents, and even that wanes with time. At a certain time, that formerly dependent child who couldn’t take a decision to buy candy without the parent’s consent grows up to take life-changing decisions all by himself without recourse to the same parents he previously deferred to. It’s just the way life is wired. That someone needs your help doesn’t mean they will always need you. That you appear to be the go-to guy in a group or organisation today does not presuppose you will always be in that position.

It’s important and to our own benefit not to have an exaggerated opinion of ourselves. People who lose both parents at an early age not just survive but go on to make huge successes of their lives every day. If you leave that spouse that you see as too fragile to stand alone, you’ll be shocked at how they will thrive with style almost as soon as you’re gone. If you leave the employ of that company that used to see your expertise as invaluable, you will marvel at how quickly someone else with better expertise replaces you. Many powerful and influential people have died, and guess what? The world moved on.

Any role that we are privileged to play should be viewed as what it is. A privilege. No one however high or mighty is indispensable. For anyone to believe or assert that they cannot be replaced or dispensed of at any time is without mincing words nonsensical braggadocio borne out of delusion.

20 Replies to “You Are Dispensable…Yes, You!”

  1. This really calls for sober reflection.Also,this further taught me not to take glory for whatever God gives me the priviledge of helping People to achieve and to cultivate the habit of appreciating God who Placed me in that position . May God help us all.

  2. Profound and true!! This article nipped it all to the board.
    This is a must read for everyone.
    Well done sis!!!!!!!!

  3. It’s Nigeria I know we brag so much just because we helped someone out. We attach so much importance to it that we won’t hear word again but I see no big deal in it. Whether we belong to a faith a not, I think it is only logical to help when you know you can. Of course there’s the problem of these people you rendered help to turning their backs and almost forgetting you were the one who made a living for them but hey that’s life. Do good for conscience sake and not to brag as though ”you are the best thing to happen to humanity since Agege bread” or “the best next thing after ice-cream.”

  4. This is awesom and factual. Even this breath is a priviledge. May we conciously&continually reflect on these things. This is a good one Lolade.

  5. This is really a nugget piece. I have seen a lot of “Oga at the top” who think if they leave, things can’t get any better or things won’t run but who left and things are still running. Actually, I had at some point being in that shoe. I had undertook several leadership positions and I’m still in one. I used to think without me, nothing works but bless God, I have grown out of that. I have realized that they were all opportunities to serve and that’s always been keeping me moving. Everyone is dispensable!!

  6. Nice one Lolade. Some people call it a “Messiah complex”. It’s sometimes woven deep into our thought patterns. It feeds the human ego and many times people develop this unconsciously. But like you pointed out, we don’t have to think that way! We can actually rid ourselves of this pattern of thinking.
    Thanks for this call to some introspection.

    1. It’s true that sometimes we act it out unconsciously. It’s best to remain humble regardless of the hype around us. Thanks for contributing.

  7. I perfectly agree with you, Ololade. This is one of the most profound lessons I learned in the University, having to work with groups and leading organizations. Sad enough, I’ve been on the end where I considered myself indispensable. But, hey! we’ve dumped that trash for LAWMA!

    I think, however, that’s probably one of the evident dynamics of life; in that when a seemingly indispensable individual leaves a space, he creates a vacancy that will provide a growth platform for someone else.

    Thoughtful piece, here, Ololade. And, yes, I feel your anger in the last sentence! Loool!

    1. In my short stay on earth, I cannot claim to have seen even nearly enough, but all the same, time and time again I have seen that there’s no one whose shoes are too big to fill. Thanks for your comments Dapo.

  8. Thank you for sharing.
    A good reminder for us all. I think beyond the perspective of being arrogant and proud about our usefulness, it should also serve as a reminder for workaholics to learn to take rests and slow down. The biz will go on if you leave oo.

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