It’s almost time. Just a few more clicks on that dusty keyboard. It’s missing an E. But your typing is superb, you don’t even notice. You’re getting to that point in the day where coffee is more valuable than air. There is so much to do and so little time to do it. Your team is depending on you. Your boss is counting on you. Your company is relying on you. That corporate ladder is yours for the climbing. So you stay, again. There will be other dance recitals, baseball games and parent teacher conferences. There will be other firsts. You just don’t have the time to make this one, or the last one, or the one before that. Who are you kidding? You won’t make the next one either. The work you do is too important! Is “ASAP” really a word?
When you see him, your son looks taller and your daughter has a new boyfriend. Is that a new couch? You are indispensable. Or so you think. You have been brainwashed to believe that your success can only be delivered by those who critique your reports. You are convinced that your worth is measured by those who approve your timecard. You believe that who you are is defined by your manager and your manager’s manager. You introduce yourself as director or vice president. The letters of your degree become part of your signature. Essentially, you are defined by what you do. But, what happens when you can’t do it?
On October 5th 2011, Steve jobs died from complications of pancreatic cancer. Steve jobs was the founder and CEO of arguably the greatest tech company in history. You would assume that after his untimely death, the company would have crumbled to the ground. However, the opposite is true. The two highest net income quarters in the history of Apple occurred after Steve Job’s unfortunate death. There is no question that Steve Jobs had an unmistakable impact on the company he built. That said, the company survived without him. He is gone and the company is stronger than ever. This is the Steve Jobs Syndrome.
What about you? What will happen to your company if you leave? What would happen if that report, assignment or project did not emergently get completed? The coldhearted but true answer would be: absolutely nothing. As individually important as you are, you may be replaced. After the speeches and toasts, you can be replaced. Although no one else can do the job quite as well as you can, you will be replaced. If you are lucky enough, your company’s two greatest quarters will be after you’re gone.
It’s not all doom and gloom. There are those who will miss you. There are those whose lives are changed forever by your presence or the lack of it. Your company may not miss you. Your manager may not miss you. Your CEO may not miss you. Do you know who will miss you? Your family. Your son wants you to measure his height. He’s going to be taller than you. Your daughter wants you to approve her new suitor. She pretends to avoid your questions. You should be there to choose that new couch. The old one was so comfortable. You will be missed, by your family. The net happiness of your family will plummet if you were gone.
I’m not saying that you should quit your job. I’m not saying you should ignore your responsibility. After all, we all want to be successful. I’m just saying, don’t lose who you are along the way. Don’t forget where your true value is assessed. Don’t forget who will miss you when you’re gone. It’s almost 5 o’clock. Put down that computer. Pour out that coffee. Get in the car. Hug your family and don’t let them go. The work will be waiting for you when you get back.