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Cabarrus Magazine

Everyone is Indispensable

Oct 30, 2019 01:36PM ● By Jason Huddle

By: Jennifer Parsely

There is a popular saying, especially in business. “No one is indispensable.”

This means you are not special and that you can easily be replaced.  I am sure this mentality originated in the day of assembly line workers.  The truth is, everyone is indispensable.

No one has your background.

No one has had the experiences you have had.

No one has your talents.

No one thinks like you.

 When I read articles about our individual strengths and competencies, as well as the part we play in developing the next generation of leaders, I often think of teachers, coaches and counselors.  But the last several years of service, especially in government, has brought a real pull towards our youth and the responsibility every leader must connect with them.

I sometimes get overwhelmed with the “raising up” of my own children. From daily taxi service to conversations about 401k and money management, I often fall into bed exhausted. The thought of extending that “raising up” to other children adds pressure and creates the question, “How do I make time for that?”.

Then something magical happened.  The realization hit me that the “raising up” is in what we are already doing.  It’s being the example, taking them along for the ride, LISTENING to their ideas or thoughts and engaging.  It’s providing opportunities for them to pull back the curtain and experience the world to see things don’t JUST happen.  It’s creating the desire to become the kind of people who choose to show up for one another and believe they make their community better by serving and leading.

With these thoughts in mind, “taking them along for the ride” becomes, not just a fun idea or catchy mantra, but of the utmost importance to all of us. We need to step outside of what we do and seek out opportunities to invite our kids into that space.  Consider exposing them to opportunities where they can serve and engage.  Show them the value of one and the power of community.  Transfer that wisdom.  

This extension of self often brings us to believe we are giving back (and we are).  However, it also grows us as individual leaders and stretches in our current role.  This isn’t something you can do half-heartedly. We must be intentional.  Leading and mentoring young leaders causes us to think intentionally about our own leadership.  Why do we do what we do?  Why do we think in a certain way?  We have to be able to communicate our process and mindset, because they will ask. 

Longevity can be good, but it can also cause blindness.  The longer you are in a position, the harder it can be to see what needs to be changed or needs improvement.  One way to ensure we don’t get blinded from longevity is to invite young leaders to our table and ask them their thoughts. Gain fresh perspective, even if you don’t perceive there is a problem. 

Leadership will end.  That may sound like an extreme statement, but it is something we need to consider.  Sometimes, we lead and build as if we are going to live forever. How do we ensure we are making our community the strongest it can be now, during our time of leadership? How do we ensure we are doing all we can to advance the community past our time? 

No one has your background, your experiences or your talents.  That makes it even more important to share those precious resources and ensure the impact lasts well beyond our stay.  I believe Sheryl Sandberg said it best -

“Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”  

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