25 Ways You Can Avoid Being Replaced, With So Many, Yet So Few Opportunities Everywhere

One can avoid being replaced by always creating opportunities for oneself; opportunities that no other person or persons can replicate; and you do so by being creative, imaginative, and forever reinventing and recreating the self in order to remain relevant to self and to others. So we have been schooled to make ourselves irreplaceable.

The underlying text in making ourselves irreplaceable is paradoxical, in that as long as we would be in the employ of others they will replace us in spite of, not despite of, we being so good at what we are doing. In all of our lives we have also been advised to find a nice, good, fertile, supporting and compassionate partner and then to live happily ever after. In spite of this too, there are more divorces among the rich than among the poor, the world over.

Even, Dean Martins, that famous American comedian believed that if one is good enough, one could hardly ever be replaced. Dean Martin was a comedian par excellence with his triumvirate ‘buddies’ of the ‘Rat pack’ trio that included him, Frank Sinatra, and Sammy Davis, Jr. He once advised, “Be so good that they can’t ignore you.”

Dean Martins was a man who must have had his share of opportunities by association. He must have gotten rough and/or free rides; sometimes stolen rides, paid rides, given rides, earned rides, acquired rides, or sometimes all other kinds of rides, as part of the perks for being an established and celebrated member of several of the twenty-one institutions that make the world go-round-and-round-and-round.

I truly wonder what he would say today in 2007, where all manners of labor are replaceable, digitalized, automated, and outsourced to some lowest labor-paying enclaves under the sun. Pretty soon, we may even go to the outer-space to get out goods manufactured, given the recent wake of artificial intelligence and robotics doing what humans used to do.

But here are my 25 tactics and strategies to remain irreplaceable:

1. Work For Yourself.

I come from a family of business leaders and entrepreneurs, starting with my grandfather in the 1800’s. But I chose to go academic. My family frowned at me, reasoning that no one before me ever went that route. But I rebelled. Today, I am back as an entrepreneur, writer, author, publisher, and communications trainer and consultant. Theses are all aspects of business ownership.

Working for oneself is still the best and most satisfying option for many. Yet, there are billions of people in the world of 8 billion, who are not cut for that. Find your rhythm and give it your all with every opportunity; given, earned, stolen, inherited, legislated, and so on [Refers: my article on 30 Ways To Access, Retain, And Leverage Opportunities].

2. Do Not Trust Anyone To Do For You What You Can Do For And By Yourself.

Search inside of you for the most skills you have to add to your expertise; be it in your corporate or entrepreneurial pursuits. What you know you can do very well by yourself, do not allow the perceptions of class and privilege deluge you to paying anyone to do it. My wife was that kind who preferred to do everything because she was good at almost anything. With an MBA and a professional career, she would fix every break-down in the house. She believed she could save money, sharpen her skills further, and protect our privacies, each time she was able to fix a broken pipe or clogged toilet. She even made the curtains for our thirteen-room home.

3. Do Not Worry Much What Others Say Against You Behind Your Back.

4. Before You Outsource Any Work Know The Details Of It So You Can Dictate What Is Done Rightly Or Wrongly.

5. Know Yourself.

I cannot say enough about the power of self-awareness. In order to overcome any obstacles on life’s paths, one has to have an inner knowledge of who one is. Socrates stated this in his famous dictum, Know Thyself. It is what psychologists describe as moving from ‘subconscious incompetence’ to a ‘conscious incompetence.’ It is an increase in the level of knowing what you didn’t know before. And this is conscious competence. And when you know, you do better. When you know better, you do best.

It pays again to be paranoid to know if your work is good or mediocre. You should know that from inside out, before being told or written up.

It is the inner capacity to self- monitor.

6. Know Your Strengths And Your Weaknesses.

7. Know That The Twenty-One Institutions In Humanity Are Interwoven and Interdependent And Can Conspire Against You Anytime You Threaten Their Existence.

8. Be Continuously Learning And Acquiring More Skills To Remain Competitive, Relevant, And Valuable.

9. Spend Your Waking Hours Doing Everything That Add Value To Your Brand And Your Person.

10. Cultivate And Maintain A Deeper And Widest Network Of Associates, Friends, And Mentors Possible.

11. Do Not Underestimate Anyone On Your Climb, Especially Your Team Members and Mentors Wherever You Are.

12. Do Not Ignore Or Forget Anyone When You Get To The Top Of The Plateau Or The Tip Of The Pyramid.

There are a million plus ways to show appreciation; even to those who were detractors on your way up the climb. Kind words make your paths to the top smoother and indeed, faster. Remember always, Abraham Lincoln’s famous dictum, “With Malice Towards None.” That is the power of gracefulness, thankfulness, and forgiveness.

13. Do Your Work With Due Diligence

Do not ever leave any stone unturned. That very minor error you thought was negligible would often turn out to be the deal killer. What this means is that when you are on your own you have to be extra careful and diligent in crossing the “t’s” and dotting the “i’s.” This may explain why a lot of people do not go out to start their own businesses.

But you are not a lot of people. You are an individual.

And you are unique. So get ready to go solo and to work extra hard to make it happen.

You only have one opportunity, and that is YOU. You are the opportunity you ever needed and always searched for.

14. You Have To Be Extra Good Because You Wear Many Hats, Alone.

Be always ready to learn new stuffs to add to your skill sets. And never waste too much time trying to learn new skills you know is over your head. When this happens, contract the job out.

15. Be Multi-dimensional

Lately many writers and some speakers have frowned against multi-tasking. These writers reason that it dilutes and distracts concentrated efforts at getting one thing done exceptionally well. I disagree with that.

There may be some distinction between multidimensional tasking and multi-tasking activity; but I want to treat both as same sides to the same coin. And that coin is productivity.

To embrace multidimensional orientation is not to sleep on one side of the bed all night. You have to turn and twist and stretch.

You need to take different routes simultaneously to stay on top of a world that is rapidly disrupted by technology and the narrowing of distances between people and places and events and technologies.

A one-dimensional approach to reality and to scavenging for opportunities is to kill one’s business interests and opportunities faster than warranted.

In the process of approaching the world from multi-pronged sensibility, one therefore must multi-task. Know more than the next person in your areas of operation.

16. Know More Than Your Competitor; That Means, You Have To Know Your Competitor’s Business And Their Strategies; Just As They Too, Would Know About You And Yours.

17. Imagine A Competitor Even If There Is None In Your Immediate Peripheral View; Be Rest Assured Somebody Somewhere Is Trailing, Tracking, Shadowing, Spying, Following, And Watching You.

18. Never Overlook The Friendly Competition; Neither Should You Count On The Continued Cooperation Of Your Colleagues Or Employees.

19. Know That Your Secrets Are No Secrets Anymore In The Age of Cyber Spies And Security Hacking.

20. You Must Not Allow Your Competitor To Outsmart, Outwork, And Outlast You; So Do Not Be Complacent And Take Things For Granted.

21. In This Post-Industrial Economy, Which I Label, PIE, Know That There Are No Sacred Cows, No Down Times, No Long Vacations; You Are Constantly Plugged And Logged In And On; So Prioritize Big Time, To Remain Relevant; Take A Bite Of The PIE Whenever And Wherever You Can.

22. It Pays To Be Paranoid.

Andrew S. Grove, former CEO & Chairman of Intel Corporation, the world’s largest chip maker in his book, Only The Paranoid Survive: How To Exploit The Crisis Points That Challenge Every Company, writes on the importance of focus, dread, anxiety, and change when everything changes under one’s watch. He called such moment, Strategic Inflection Point. But that is an opportunity too we all can use and exploit to stay relevant.

Grove writes: “Business success contains the seeds of its own destruction. The more successful you are, the more people want a chunk of your business and then another chunk and then another until there is nothing left. I believe that the prime responsibility of a manger is to guard constantly against other people’s attacks and to inculcate this guardian attitude in the people under his or her management.”

23. You Have To Embrace Change As The Only Constant. Charles Darwin long ago warned:

“It isn’t the strongest species which survives, neither the most intelligent, but rather that which adapts best to change.”

24. Remain Eternally Motivated To Complete Whatever Task You Assumed Or Were Assigned.

With so many distractions and opportunities, it is comforting to delay the completion of a task, delaying it to yet another day. But the lackadaisical approach to work and tasks speaks volumes to the level of commitment to productivity and excellence that are indispensable to continued employment and high-level performance, profitability, and self-actualization.

25. Our Language Describes, Depicts, Determines, Influences, And Creates Our Realities.

Everywhere we go and in whatever we do, we should mend our language to the situations to convey the meanings and attitudes we wish to materialize. We create, establish, and relate to our convictions through the language we use. Over time, these frame our identities, our world views, and our personalities at work, play, with friends, and families, and all the other institutions we engage daily, as we try to determine our places and roles and significance to each and all.

One needs to be careful and cautious with the types of words one uses. Simple worlds can alter the perceptions people have of themselves and the society they help create or destroy. In Reinventing Yourself, Marion Alonso Puig writes:

“Words are not blown away by the wind but rather create realities. Search for words that help and do not nullify. Perhaps you’ll be surprised by what begins to happen.”

“…(L)et’s be cautious with the types of words we use and the type of value judgments that we make so that it’s not the events, but our own personal judgments which rob us of our personal power and generate unnecessary suffering.”


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