A business philosophy that works for me.

Making yourself redundant is a process of identifying where you are indispensible to the enterprise that you happen to be working for. Don't believe anyone who tells you that no-one is indispensible. That's a strategy that many folks employ to make you feel lucky to have your job. Everyone is indispensible, in their own unique way.

Think of the time you really needed time off, (a mental health day, for example) but went to work out of diligent loyalty for the enterprise and because work needed doing that no-one else could do as well or as efficiently as you. All things being equal, that was a moment when you realised that you were in some way indispensible.

The secret of being able to take time out when you need to, without feeling guilt, is to make yourself redundant.

At every opportunity, whenever you remember, as often as possible, think of ways in which you can hand over at least a small part of your function or duties to another person. Treat this as a meditation, that is, don't beat yourself up for missing opportunities to apply this pro-active technique, but do apply it whenever your mind returns to the thought.

Little by little, you will be building an environment where you are able to step away from your job, with a progressive lessening of the guilt that can spoil well-earned time out.

This little process can especially assist owner-operators of businesses, as many of these people realise after years of building a successful business that they and their business have become so intertwined and interdependent that all value that could be realised in the sale of the business has been leached out because of this unhealthy (and unprofitable) symbiosis.

Do your enterprise and yourself a favour. Make yourself redundant.

There is another good reason for owner-operators to follow this philosophy: It is actually good for business.

This may not be immediately obvious: It may seem that if you are very good at something and indispensable, no one can compete against you.

While that's true, indispensability has one serious drawback in business world, which I realised many years ago after a discussion with a very wise friend of mine.

At that time, my friend was the manager of the computer store at Carnegie-Mellon University. It was also the time when Steve Jobs's NeXT came out with its NeXT Cube. The Cube was the most advanced computer back then, way ahead its time. I expected it to become the most popular computer system within a short period of time. It did not.

I discussed it with my friend who was the closest to the computer industry insider I knew at the time (I'm sure there were others, I just mean from among the people I knew and was friends with). According to my friend, the biggest strength of NeXT from the engineering perspective was also its biggest weakness from the business perspective. It was all designed by Steve Jobs, the computer genius. That is why it was so good.

The problem was that many business people feared that if Steve Jobs got hit by a bus and died, there would be no one to replace him. In other words, Steve Jobs was irreplaceable. Had he made himself redundant, the NeXT company would have probably taken over the world (well, the computer world, anyway).

I was not too thrilled with my friend's analysis at the time, but looking back, I have to admit he had a point. A good one, too.

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