Why Thinking You’re Irreplaceable is Holding You Back

Posted March 12, 2013 by Marcy Twete in Career Moves

Women are notorious for allowing ourselves to be taken advantage of. We often actually enjoy being doormats in both our personal and professional lives. I’ve heard women say, when considering a divorce, “But he needs me.” The same feelings apply to many women when considering looking for a new job. We think, “I can’t leave. They need me.” We worry about how our co-workers will react. Will they hate us? Will our boss pile work on them instead of hiring someone new? Will you be able to maintain relationships with the people you enjoy at work? What if, what if, what if…

The fact of the matter is, though, you’re not irreplaceable. No one is irreplaceable. Even the leader of the free world, the President of the United States, has a term limit and a succession plan in case of disaster. Repeat after me, “If the President is replaceable, I’m replaceable.” Still don’t believe? Take what a friend of mine calls “the bucket test.” Fill a bucket with water, and emerge your arm as far as it will go into the bucket. There’s no denying that your arm is a massive force of energy and space on that bucket of water. But remove your arm from the water, and the water doesn’t remain in position, it flows quickly to fill the spaces your arm had filled. Your office, your boss, and your coworkers are the water. You are your arm. They will fill in the spaces when you leave.

What does this mean for your career? It means you should look for a job when you’re ready, and you should consider only your personal needs and desires when you make those decisions. No matter how fantastic you are, you can be replaced and your job will be filled in by those around you and likely a new individual. Let that act, not as a let down in your career, but as a way to see yourself first and put yourself first in your decision making.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."


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