Recently, I had two flights (eight hours total) and a two-hour drive on an unfamiliar route to travel to my client. It's Monday morning, and while I took three hours to prepare the night before packing my suitcase and briefcase, I got to the airport with a frightful realization.
I left my cell phone at home! At first, I was angry with myself for leaving it. Then, fear over took me. I had clients to call. And, what happens if I get lost along the route Google Maps created for me? It has happened before. Could my day and week have started out any worse?
I immediately wrote an email to my wife who dropped me off at the airport, so that she would know when she got home. But, there wasn't a signal and my emails weren't going out. My day just got worse. I have no means of communicating with anyone important to me.
It is 30 minutes before my flight and there was only one option left that I could think of -- purchase a disposable phone. I did and began to feel calmer until I received a "NO NETWORK" error message on my new phone. "Are you kidding me?" I said to myself, but loud enough for the person next to me to give me a look.
Willingness and God's grace saved the day. Willingness is the value you provide others and others provide you when support is needed. And, you generally don't know just how important, meaningful and powerful it is for the people around you.
In my case, when my wife arrived home, she heard my phone buzzing as my assistant was calling me to tell me he was sick and wouldn't be coming into work. If she had walked in a minute either side of that call, she may not have noticed the phone until much later. She immediately grabbed the phone and headed back to the airport not knowing if she would be able to find me. She asked for spiritual assistance on the way to help her get to me somehow. Willingness in action!
When she got to the airport, she went to security to find a "courtesy phone" to page me, but one didn't exist. However, the person at security was willing to redirect her to the ticket counter that might be able to help. Willingness again.
When she arrived at the ticket counter she mentioned my name, flight number and destination to the person behind the counter and asked (gently pleading) to have me paged. The agent was reluctant to do so... it would be a hassle and she was handling the baggage tickets for other travelers. But, her willingness took over and another agent stepped in to support her. She called my gate but no one answered for quite some time as they were closing the flight to prepare for boarding. After a few minutes, the gate agent answered and delivered the message over the loudspeaker. Again, major willingness in action, even through resistance.
I was directed to go back to security and if I run, I might have enough time to make the plane. I ran and met my wife at Security. She wasn't allowed to give me the phone directly so I had to leave and get back in the security line. Oh well, sometimes willingness can't break the security rules. Everyone helped me to get through the line as quickly as possible. Super willingness was demonstrated by so many people.
Being indispensable is determined by the value you provide others. It requires purpose, playing big, being adaptable and being we-centered -- willing to include and support others. These attributes are further explained in the book, Making Yourself Indispensable: The Power of Personal Accountability. When you demonstrate willingness to support another person, to support your team or to support your family, you are indispensable. And, many times, it requires stepping beyond our discomfort, resistance and embarrassment to do the "right thing" to help someone out. In my case, I was supported by my family and by strangers who went out of their way in a great act of kindness. And, to me, they were all indispensable.
Being Indispensable Through Increasing Your Willingness
There are several steps anyone can take to increase their willingness.
1. Be Present and Stay Alert - When you are caught in your head worrying about your life, planning your day or simply daydreaming, you may miss the call for help that someone is giving in that moment. Be present with what you are currently doing and stay alert in your surroundings.
2. Move Through Your Resistance - When you are being "called" to act, there may be an inner resistance that surfaces. It can come in many forms:
a. It might be the inner "complainer" who says, "You shouldn't have to do this, it is such a hassle, and besides, this isn't your problem or your job."
b. It could be the righteous or judgmental "part of you" that says, "They should suffer for leaving their phone at home by mistake -- this will teach them."
c. It could also be the "doubter" or the one part of you that is afraid to make a mistake. "What happens if they don't really want my help or I fail in coming through for them?" Or in my case, "What if I can't find him or connect with him before his flight?"
3. Take Action - Do your part by doing something to be helpful. Maybe you can't take it "across the finish line," but you can do your part. Many people in my example took it a step forward until I had a phone in my hand and was sitting in my seat on the plane. It required everyone doing his/her part, big or small, to achieve a successful outcome.
Willingness is the muscle that allows you to help others, to adapt to change around you, to communicate with others, to take risks for continual improvement, and to support a friend, teammate or stranger. Willingness is an act of service that gets paid back to you in a multitude of ways -- least of which is becoming indispensable at work, at home and in your life.
If you would like to learn more about making yourself indispensable, I invite you to visit http://www.MarkSamuel.com to download two FREE chapters of my new book recently awarded, "Best New Business Book" by the 2012 International Book Awards.