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:
- Listen to your friends without interrupting nor being hurry.
- Send them your warm greetings via e-cards.
- Tell them how you miss them.
- Send them special messages at their birthday
- Comfort them in times of trouble.
- Introduce them to your other friends to expand their networks.
- Buy them gifts when you are traveling. Even small gifts matter.
- Ask them how they are doing.
- Praise them for the good jobs they have done.
- Talk with them about their achievements.
- Talk about how good they are in front of your other friends.
- Be the first person to tell them about good news involving them.
- Send them your favorite quotes.
- Take the time to do small research to answer their questions.
- Lend them your favorite books.
- Spark their curiosity by asking them smart questions.
- Tell them your favorite web sites to learn from.
- Send them the articles you find that might help them.
- Passionately share your learning experiences; it’s contagious.
- Lend them your favorite CDs or DVDs.
- Tell them where they can learn to play music.
- Tell them where they can learn to draw (Drawspace is a good start by the way).
- Share your favorite wallpapers and pictures.
- Let them know of interesting cultural events you hear about.
- Encourage them to find their life purpose.
- Encourage them to follow their heart more than the expectations of others.
- 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.
- Tell them about how joyful it is to help others by sharing your experiences.
- Let them know about your favorite charities and why you like them.
- When you are involved in a social activity to help others, ask them to join you.