Tips to make yourself Indispensable to others

The key to success is making yourself as useful as possible to others. You should make yourself so useful that you are indispensable to them. But how do you do that? How do you make yourself indispensable?

First of all we need to define what is meant by useful, since only by being useful can we become indispensable. Being useful means meeting people’s needs and desires. It is solving people’s problems. Consequently, there is actually just one rule to make yourself indispensable:

The more you can do it, the more you will become indispensable. The next question is: how do you find what people need? Of course, there are a lot of needs people can possibly have. Fortunately, people’s needs and desires can be grouped into eight categories based on Abraham Maslow’s work. Here they are (quoted from Made to Stick):

  • Physical: hunger, thirst, bodily comfort
  • Security: protection, safety, stability
  • Belonging: love, family, friends, affection
  • Esteem: achieve, be competent, gain approval, independence, status
  • Learning: know, understand, mentally connect
  • Aesthetic: symmetry, order, beauty, balance
  • Self-actualization: realize our own potential, self-fulfillment, peak experiences
  • Transcendence: help others realize their potential

These categories allow you to see the full spectrum of human needs. In order to make yourself indispensable, all you need to do is focusing on meeting the needs in these categories. Of course, you should emphasize different categories in different circumstances. In some circumstances, you may be most helpful in Belonging, while in some other circumstances you may be most helpful in Learning. You should always be aware of where you can be most helpful.

In this post, I’d like to share 30 practical tips on how to do that for all of the categories except Security and Physical. These two categories comprise very basic needs which are usually well met in the modern world.

Here they are:


  1. Listen to your friends without interrupting nor being hurry.
  2. Send them your warm greetings via e-cards.
  3. Tell them how you miss them.
  4. Send them special messages at their birthday
  5. Comfort them in times of trouble.
  6. Introduce them to your other friends to expand their networks.
  7. Buy them gifts when you are traveling. Even small gifts matter.


  1. Ask them how they are doing.
  2. Praise them for the good jobs they have done.
  3. Talk with them about their achievements.
  4. Talk about how good they are in front of your other friends.
  5. Be the first person to tell them about good news involving them.


  1. Send them your favorite quotes.
  2. Take the time to do small research to answer their questions.
  3. Lend them your favorite books.
  4. Spark their curiosity by asking them smart questions.
  5. Tell them your favorite web sites to learn from.
  6. Send them the articles you find that might help them.
  7. Passionately share your learning experiences; it’s contagious.


  1. Lend them your favorite CDs or DVDs.
  2. Tell them where they can learn to play music.
  3. Tell them where they can learn to draw (Drawspace  is a good start by the way).
  4. Share your favorite wallpapers and pictures.
  5. Let them know of interesting cultural events you hear about.


  1. Encourage them to find their life purpose.
  2. Encourage them to follow their heart more than the expectations of others.
  3. Share with them inspirational stories about men and women who are willing to pay the price to do what matters to them (e.g. Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa).

Note: You might find the materials in 37 Lessons to Help You a Live that Matters useful here.


  1. Tell them about how joyful it is to help others by sharing your experiences.
  2. Let them know about your favorite charities and why you like them.
  3. When you are involved in a social activity to help others, ask them to join you.




There’s a big myth in our culture: that passion can only be spontaneous. You either love your job or you don’t. You either enjoy exercising or hate it. You are interested in reading books or you find them boring. That passion can’t be forced or created.

I disagree. Passion can be created. Even for things you don’t currently enjoy.

By tweaking the activities and pursuits you engage in, you can find a passion for anything. All it takes is a bit of patience and an open mind.

The benefit is that you end up loving the things you have to do anyways. Exercising, learning, studying, working and almost any pursuit can be made into a passion. And if you know how to do it, existing passions can be turned from mildly interesting to exciting. The skill of finding your passion is like turning up the dial for the amount of color you experience in life.Here are some ways to find your passion:

1. Get Curious – Curiosity is the basis of passion. Shake off your current understandings and begin from the view that you are almost completely ignorant on the subject. Then look for novelty to boost your interest.

2. Make it a Game – Give yourself rules, objectives and strategic constraints. The more creative thinking required, the better.

3. Set a Goal – Create a specific goal along with a deadline. This can infuse mundane activities with a sense of direction and purpose. Writing a report goes from being just another task, to a creative challenge that pushes you.

4. Express Yourself – Find hidden opportunities for self-expression. This could mean inventing a style for folding clothes. Changing the format you write code in or altering the style of your presentation. View each activity as an act of expression and originality.

5. Focus – Cut distractions and eliminate noise. The more you focus on an activity the better you can notice interesting qualities about it. The only truly boring activity is the one you can’t pay attention to.

6. Jigsaw Piecing – A jigsaw puzzle has hundreds of uniquely shaped pieces of a picture. View your activities as pieces of a larger image. This can turn dull activities into individual snippets of a more fascinating whole.

7. Dial Down Cravings – Have you ever noticed how the hungrier you are, the less able you are to enjoy the taste of food? This works the same way with passion. The more you crave a goal (instead of the process containing the goal) the less likely you are to develop a passion for it. Goal-setting is good. Goal-obsession is not.

8. Connect with Talents – How can you apply your existing talents to an activity? Find ways to use skills you already have in a new endeavor. An artistic person could draw pictures to help himself study. An athletic person might be able to use her strength and endurance as a speaker.

9. Overcome the Frustration Barrier – If an activity is too difficult for you to become enthusiastic about it, slow down. Worry less about results and more about experimenting until you build up skill. Whenever I try a new hobby, I strive to just try things out before building skills. This keeps me from getting frustrated and ensures the process is fun.

10. Leech Enthusiasm – Energy is contagious. If you spend time with someone who exudes passion about a subject, some of it will rub off on you. Seek out people who have the energy you want and get them to describe their motivation. Often it will point you to key information you had no idea could be so interesting.

11. Remove the Chains – Feeling forced into an activity is a sure way to kill any passion. Instead of flowing with the task, you rebel against it, making you miserable. Be aware of the consequences for not acting, but remove the feeling that you don’t have a choice. You always have a choice.

12. Tune the Challenge – For boring tasks, make them more difficult. For frustrating tasks, make them easier. This can be done by varying the speed or constraints you need to complete a task. Boring chores can be made more interesting by setting a time-limit. Frustrating assignments can be made easier by allowing yourself an awful first-draft instead of perfection.

13. Get instruction – Finding a teacher can give you the basic level of understanding necessary to enjoy an activity. Sometimes passion can be drained just by not knowing the basics.

14. Humble confidence – Confidence is necessary for passion, but arrogance can destroy it. Build a humble confidence where you believe in your abilities to handle the unknown, but you also have a great respect for it.

15. Focus Immediately – Look at the next immediate step. Don’t concern yourself over what needs to be done next month or next year if it overwhelms you. Focus on each step of the marathon, not how many miles you have left.

16. Play – If the process confuses or bothers you, just play with it. Don’t have a purpose until you can define one.

17. Eliminate – This one might not apply, but it is always good to use. If you really can’t enjoy something, find a way to eliminate it from your life. Don’t waste your time doing things you don’t enjoy. Either cultivate a passion or get rid of it.