A Morbid Take on Meaningful Work


Laura Simms


Back in my temp work days (shoot me now), I had a recurring daydream.

I imagined being hit by a bus, or meeting some other unceremonious end, and my desk being populated by a new temp the very next day.

How replaceable are you in your job?

I was a human-shaped cog and I knew it. I dreamed of having a job where, if I were to die, it would take them a long time to find a replacement for me because the work I did was so tailored to me that not just any monkey could do it.

And at the risk of sounding morbid, that’s my wish for you: that you’ll find a career home where you’re truly irreplaceable.

Sure, someone could fill in for you in terms of getting tasks done. You could even leave a legacy that others are able to carry on. But no could ever do it with your intention, style, or commitment. Losing you would be a true loss, and there could never be another you.

I think of Jane Goodall.

Steve Jobs.

Andy Goldsworthy.

Will the legacy of their work endure? Certainly. Will it be the same without them? Certainly not.

So much of their work works because of who they are.

I hope you create a career home so that when you die, your desk stays empty for a long, long time.

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