“Nobody’s irreplaceable”, they say.
And one sense, of course, it’s true because we’ve made it that way. Most organisations are set up to minimise the differences between people. Job descriptions, competency frameworks, ‘behaviours’ all attempt to smooth out quirks, individuality, weirdness so that someone else can slot right in.
It’s (apparently) much easier to manage things that way. But how much it diminishes people, calls on them to hold back what only they can offer.
You, replaceable? People might say so. But it’s only really true if you’re showing up as part of the machine, a cog like any other, no rough edges, no surprises.
We’ve set up a world which obscures the unique contribution that each person has to make. A world that encourages you to avoid truly showing up because it’s unpredictable. But we need you. If you don’t bring what only you have to bring, it doesn’t get brought.
Here’s a wonderful poem by Mary Oliver that has another way of saying all this.