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Who’s Replaceable?

Wednesday, August 18, 2021 - Joe Kiedinger

Years ago, a mentor of mine drove me through a local cemetery in hopes of articulating an important lesson. As we rode down the curving, sunshine-dappled rows he said to me, “You see all these people? They’re gone. And the world keeps on turning. They were replaceable and you are replaceable.” He felt that I was egotistical, too self-promoting and maybe even a little boastful. His aim was to humble me.

Now, I’m grateful for his time and many lessons he impressed upon me in my younger days. But, when I think back on this particular lesson I can’t help but disagree. While I may have been a bit proud, I was never replaceable. And I would posit that you are irreplaceable.  

In the workplace, you can most definitely find someone else to carry out the same tasks as someone who’s leaving your company, but you can never replace a human being. We all have our own unique traits, talents, stories, lessons and dignity. And that’s something that no one else can ever replicate.

There are going to be people who board your train and then hop off miles down the track. And it’s easy to feel bitter, to be filled with questions and to burn a bridge when they do leave. We do that as an act of self-preservation: “You can’t hurt me because I decided we’re done, too.”

I challenge you instead to keep dignity in the equation. Be grateful for the time you had with your associate or leader and for the lessons they imparted. Choose to look forward to the next adventure rather than looking back with anger. Because whatever you ask for… you’re going to get.  

JOE KIEDINGER

ACTION PLAN: A positive outlook trumps a negative one in nearly every situation you can face. Learn how to end the cycle of stress and see life through fresh eyes.