The Irreplaceable Connection
Legacy does not come from good marketing, or having unique talents, it comes from becoming that ‘irreplaceable’ person yourself, for enough people. In my opinion, that is the start to creating a legacy.
What if you had someone in your life, who can think ahead of you in ways your current ecosystem and experience won’t allow you to think, saving you dozens of years. And what if, this person can understand your practical constraints and not only show you what you couldn’t perceive until then but also implement it for you. Yes, actually do it! Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
Not only would that be wonderful but I believe we need more than one such person in our life to be able to create a legacy and to fully use our unique talents in a meaningful and significant way. And here is the secret — Legacy does not come from good marketing, or having unique talents, it comes from becoming that ‘irreplaceable’ person yourself, for enough people. In my opinion, that is the start to creating a legacy.
A year ago, my dear friend and investor, Sreejith gifted me a book that presented undebatable and conclusive evidence on how jobs are going to be taken over by Artificial Intelligence. The two types of jobs that have been exclusive to humans until now have included high agility, precision in physical movement or required decision making and a higher level of intelligence. And just in the last few years, automation has been breaking barriers even in that space. However, the book also beautifully validated the point, the jobs that are irreplaceable at the moment are ones that involve human relationships.
Similar to this was my experience while reading the book ‘The World is Flat’ about 12 years ago. Again this was a gift from Raja, a dear friend, and a successful young serial entrepreneur. A major portion of the book was concentrated on becoming irreplaceable and it mentioned at least two traits. One of them is to be able to think ahead of what people around you need but don’t know that they need it, yet. And two, having the relationship that will allow you to help them have it.
What these two men did for me is not different from what I am pointing to in this article. When I was 21 and still in college, Raja prepared me for a global market. When I wasn’t even thinking of it, he gifted me a book that showcased that the world is flat and there is equal opportunity to be global no matter where you start. Just a couple of years from then, I had my first book published by Packt, a large international publishing house from the UK.
Sreejith pushed me to innovate and to automate a portion of the work I do with Artificial Intelligence. At the time he suggested it, it appeared impossible, and now we believe we have covered a significant distance in that direction, and we are in the midst of creating a mind programming helmet that leverages a bio-feedback network to help you condition your neurology for peak performance, non-invasively.
The beautiful thing about what these two men did was not only did they offer a suggestion, they went out of their way to help me implement them. And that is the difference that makes the difference. Anyone can dream, anyone can consult, and anyone can give advice. But the capability to implement those suggestions comes from deep insights, wisdom and having a FULL appreciation of the constraints of the other person and their ecosystem as well.
So, these are people who can ‘become’ you, understand your limitations and yet solve it for you within those constraints without allowing those constraints to limit their thinking. I can give you hundreds of stories of my mother, family members, investors, achievers from around the world who have done this for me. But the point of this article is, how do you invite people like that into your life. And how do you become irreplaceable to others?
Today, people have a concept called ‘sitting on the bench’. In the corporate world, some employees are just backups for the ones who may leave. Both the ones who can leave and the backups are so easily replaceable. Replacing the functional aspect of what most people do with any other suitably trained individual has become so easy. And in such a world, what does it take to become ‘Irreplaceable’.
To give you another solid example of being irreplaceable. Today, in the startup world, investors are ready to invest millions of dollars into a business with the full risk on their hands based on who the founders of the business are. And one of the traits they look for is a tech co-founder. And why is what they are looking for difficult to find when there are gazillion tech guys? Because they are looking for a CTO who can get his hands dirty and at the same time be an inspiration for otherwise ‘unaffordable’ talent to join the startup. They want the kind of co-founders who will draw talent to them like honeybees. And such a CTO can hardly be replaced with someone else with a degree from Harvard or any IVY League college.
The good news is that no matter where you are on your path to becoming Irreplaceable in the ecosystem you want to belong, you can get there fast enough and it doesn’t have to take you decades or a lifetime. Because getting to a stage of becoming irreplaceable is only the beginning and Legacy is what follows your own experience of being irreplaceable.
How can we be so sure? Because we have seen it happen, with hundreds of people within the last 3 years, since it is our business to track the life trajectory of the A&H Members and help them make the necessary adjustments to compress time.
What does it take to get on the Trajectory of becoming ‘Irreplaceable’?
1. Exceptional Mastery:
This is a no-brainer. You got to be the best. And best doesn’t mean you have a prestigious degree or certificate, it means you have superior capabilities. And this comes from immersion, dedication and a variety of things. When people come to uP! this is the first thing we focus on — how do we help the person become an outlier in their field within the next 2–3 years instead of 10 or 20 years.
2. Pleasantly Educable:
This is a complex trait. Most people are not educatable about anything different and new from what they already know without much persuasion and convincing. And the rest learn things at a superficial level. I think people who are legends in their field, people who are outliers like depth and mastery. If they give you a little bit and you take it and make a lot out of it, the human tendency is to come and give you more. People at the TOP love to give. They are searching for someone who can get the depth of what they are saying. When I was 22, I met Ravi Gururaj, Chairman of the venture capitalist firm, Mercatus Capital. It was a business meeting along with the CEO of NuVeda, Mr. Krishnan. But that night he invited me for Dinner. And a year hence, we met again along with the owner of Hilton Hotel in Chennai. And all he did was share with me what he has learned from decades of his life experience investing hundreds of millions into businesses. When you are the kind of person who can learn from people around you, they will find you and teach you. Most people tend to think they are humble learners but the proof is in the pudding. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. The reason this is so important is that some things will take decades for you to figure by yourself and there is always someone in your life who can spend a few minutes and turn those decades to years.
3. Practical Consultant:
The job of a consultant is to think ahead and see what the other person is missing in their evaluation. A practical consultant is someone who comes up with a solution that is practically viable and respects the constraints of the other person’s capabilities and resources. This is an art and more like a dance, because on one side you don’t want to be stuck and tied to the limitations that are stopping the other person from thinking that way in the first place, and at the same time you have to understand how much the other person can stretch and the deeper consequences in other areas that may arise from implementing your solution. A practical consultant is also someone who has the required competency to implement what they are suggesting. And that is why Mastery becomes a prerequisite. But that alone is not sufficient. Along with that, you need to develop the art of respectfully pushing people to do what they haven’t yet considered, by being at-least one step ahead of them in that context.
4. Layered Relationship:
This is the most tricky one to achieve amongst the four points I have listed and in some ways, all the others are a prerequisite to developing this. Let me explain ‘layered relationship’ with an analogy. Imagine someone you love, like your spouse or parent or sibling or a friend, having several parallel relationships with you. For instance, your brother is a brother, friend, guide, consultant, teacher and your student, all without hampering the essence of the relationship. Most people can’t do that. The moment they start teaching someone their relationship shifts in a different tangent. Or the moment they become friends they lose their ability to provoke and build the other person. But to be able to play one role of a relationship in a way that strengthens the other roles, that is what I am referring to as a Layered Relationship.The legendary Dr. Karaikudi S. Subramanian, Founder of Brhaddhvani, who has dedicated his life to spreading music, once told me that he feels a soul connection with me. And the irony of the situation was that I was so musically off at that moment that most people thought I was tone-deaf. His love to help me learn, came from the relationship we had developed. I met him in the capacity of a tech consultant. And while that relationship continued, we developed a parallel one, and when he was teaching me music, we bonded again at a very different level, and that is what I mean by Layered Relationship.
An example of the layered relationship between an irreplaceable employee and a discerning boss in a corporate setting would be:
1. A Functional relationship: The employee gets work that pushes their
limits to the next level and helps the business grow.
2. A Learner relationship: The boss and colleagues, takes personal interest
in the learning of the employee and goes out of the way to teach them from their lifetime experience things that may or may not be related to the job.
3. A Consultant relationship: The boss listens to the employee and takes
feedback and values that person’s field experience and opinions to make critical business decisions.
4. A Recreational relationship: The boss and the employee play Golf or some form of sport together and strengthen the connection in many different layers.
And several more.
For most people, 2 and 3 above can’t co-exist. And for some, 1 and 4 cannot co-exist. A layered relationship is the opposite of that where not only do they coexist but also they deepen each other. I believe that such layered relationships within families and businesses can change how the world functions. Being irreplaceable is a relationship and not a ‘right’, ‘position’ or ‘hierarchy’.
And to my community members who have taken on the journey with me to launch a legacy in compressed time, a good measurement for you on your progress towards legacy would be to assess for yourself, to whom have you become ‘Irreplaceable’ in the way you relate. And include both your family and business in your evaluation.
This article is written as a dedication to my friend, consultant and team member who pushed us to look in newer directions while he joined our business as a very junior team member and quickly rose within a year to senior ranks, the late Anirban.
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