Years ago, I was working on a huge project at a bank that touched thousands of people. My team was counting on me for daily decisions, my boss looked to me constantly to put out some raging fire, and my peers and I were desperately trying to row the boat in synch with each other.
Every day, (and with the heaviness of intense guilt) I stretched day care to the limit, leaving behind my daughter Jen who just had ONE mom to take care of her.
As I would walk to my car, feeling horrible and guilt-ridden for leaving work with everyone else working so hard, I would remind myself that the bank had thousands of people to take care of their customers - Jen had one mom.
Even with that reminder, I would sometimes feel like I was holding up the project and my household at the same time. (Think maybe my ego was getting a little out of control there?)
One of my coworkers was an even bigger piece of the project. Without him, we didn't know what we would do. He seemed indispensable to the project we were working on.
Then he didn’t wake up one morning. Everyone on our project was mystified at how we could go on without him.
He was certainly much more important in the scheme of things than me – or most of us. He probably felt that himself every day.
Yet within two days, things were “back to normal.” It was as if he had never been there - at least as it related to the work we needed to do.
All he left behind were the memories of him as a person. There were plenty of people who could do the work.
Seeing this poem reminded me of that time in my life.
It reminds me of time in general. It’s so easy to think we have all the time in the world. It’s so normal to think that others can’t live without us. And so it’s natural to think we are indispensable.
What you are you doing with your precious time?
The Indispensable Man
Sometime when you're feeling important;
Sometime when your ego 's in bloom;
Sometime when you take it for granted,
You're the best qualified in the room:
Sometime when you feel that your going,
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions,
And see how they humble your soul.
Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that's remaining,
Is a measure of how much you'll be missed.
You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop, and you'll find that in no time,
It looks quite the same as before.
The moral of this quaint example,
Is to do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There's no indispensable man.
by Saxon White Kessinger
Inspiring new ways to look at learning, growth, and reinvention, whether in leadership, athletics, art or life.
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