Three Tips for Becoming Indispensable 2009

By Alex B. Ramsey

There are many ways to “become indispensable.” Entire books cover this subject. The following tips are intended to provide you with food for thought. These are long-term strategies and states of mind, not quick fixes.

• Improve your communication

What does “improve” mean, in this case? Well, when it comes to leaders, I especially am referring to your ability to speak in public. Whether it is me or someone else, get a coach. Unfortunately, there is no book, no video tape anywhere in the market that will make a difference. Just as with improving your golf game, you need a live person to work with you, so it is true with your speaking. 

You also need someone from outside your organization. People inside have too much of an agenda to trust, nor are they likely to have the expertise you require. 

No matter how great you are, have some humility and get a specialist. This one is way too important.

• Read with insatiable curiosity a wide variety of subjects

The late, great Charlie Tremendous Jones used to say, “The only difference between you now and one year ago is the people you have met and the books you read.”

Books change your world. They rock your reality. They teach in ways that deepen your understanding of almost everything.

Although we all love to read stuff we easily enjoy, the real kicker here is to read things that are a stretch. In other words, read a variety of things. I’m reading an archeological book about ancient Greek oracles at Delphi, a famous journalist’s experiences in Iraq, a book on cleansing the liver and gall bladder, the novel that was the Mann Booker prize winner, and the list goes one. Frankly, I learned more about Bangalore and the call centers in India from White Tiger than I ever have learned from any other source. It was an unexpected wellspring of knowledge and information. Not easy, emotionally, but valuable. 

• Develop the habit of appreciation

How many times today did you say “thank you,” and mean it? If you haven’t said it 10 times, something’s off. Put a note on your desk, on your computer, or anywhere else you might see it to remind yourself. 

Dozens of people every single day are making your life better in thousands of different ways. 

Be present enough to appreciate them.