The Healthy Balance Between Expendable and Indispensability


Today my son Dustin starts his first job at Burger King.  Now that I have a kid in the workforce, my workforce advice has a true captive audience

Are you living "without a net"? I have been!

and I’ve got very high expectations.

My list of advice was long:

  • Show up early
  • Find out exactly what you need to do and get it done quick
  • When you’re finished, go find something else to do
  • Run at a fast pace, not the pace everyone else is keeping
  • Be friendly and positive
  • And finally…make yourself indispensable, not expendable

Actually that’s one I’m beginning to wrestle with now personally.  Essentially my company, Total Career Mastery, LLC is just me, my assistant Amy and a few talented associates.  I fly around the country each week from company to company which is just fine except for the fact I’ve found out recently my health isn’t keeping pace with my calendar.  Last week I went in to see the doctor to have my painful left hip examined (which was diagnosed as having advanced Osteoarthritis) and found out I have a hernia that needs to be operated on.  The problem is that I’m booked up so tight that I’ve got to put the hernia off until July 6 and if I need hip replacement, need to put that off until right before Christmas since the two weeks before and after Christmas are completely dead weeks (I call this my “off-season”).

Indispensability is good so long as you don’t run across any unforeseen issues (like health problems).

Maybe there is some sort of balance that’s healthy.  All I know is that I have 2 weeks coming up in the first part of July that are going to be devoted to expanding Total Career Mastery, LLC (and healing up from surgery).  I’ll be trying to figure out what I can do to re-create more of me and expand into a customer base that is going to grow with that model.  Should be a fun challenge.

So enough about me.  Where are you on the balance between expendable and indispensable?  Are you someone who nobody misses when you’re on vacation or are you the one who the company can’t live without?  Does anyone ever try to reach you when you’re on vacation or are you the person that can’t afford not to be disconnected (you’re the person in line at a Disney ride taking work calls aren’t you?) One leads to layoff, the other to burnout.

Over the next few weeks of summer, why not take some time to reflect on this.  For most people, summer is a down time anyway (not for me which I’m thankful for!) so it might be good to ponder this.



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  1. Bonnie McGuire says:

    Hi Malcolm,
    I always enjoy your messages.

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