30 Practical 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:

Find what people need and meet those needs.

streamingThe 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.

Note: You can find more tips in 33 Tips to Become a Well Liked Person.


  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.

If you liked this post, please give it a thumb up in StumbleUpon. Thanks!


  1. Dear Donald –

    I happened on your site and I want to tell you how valuable the work you are doing in personal growth.

    I am doing the same – and we are worlds apart as I am in Chicago Illinois. The world is truly a global village.

    After reading your post on how to make yourself indespensible, I could not resist sending you one I wrote. It is part of a sales course I am developing – eventually to be an E book.


    It almost sums up your post in a few words.

    If you like it, you have my permission to put it on your site with the usual links to mine.

    It is an absolutely true story.

    All the best –

    Corinne Edwards

  2. Saw your blog via StumbleUpon. Thought you’d be interested in how people end up here.

  3. Corinne:
    Thanks for telling me about your personal growth resources! I’m always glad to learn about new resources.

    Welcome, Josh! I’m a fan of StumbleUpon myself. I hope you enjoy your visit here.

  4. This is one of your best articles! Well done. Practical and useful, and easy to understand! Thanks for sharing it!

  5. Thanks for the encouraging words, Phil! I’m glad you find it useful.

  6. hmm nice article memento more

  7. Hey Donald,

    Recently I have been writing about self improvement articles for employees and one of my key point was to find out what your boss need and then satisfy him. Relating that to your article, it would make that employee indispensables to his boss.

    Great article and I like it!


  8. […] Donald Latumahina is an avid learner who blogs about personal growth and effectiveness at Life Optimizer. Read his articles on 30 Practical Tips to Make Yourself Indispensable to Others and The Art of Arbitrage: The Key to Living Smart. digg_url = ‘http://www.lifehack.org/articles/productivity/nine-ways-to-live-the-lifestyle-of-a-champion.html’; ( function() { var ds=typeof digg_skin==’string’?digg_skin:”; var h=80; var w=52; if(ds==’compact’) { h=18; w=120; } var u=typeof digg_url==’string’?digg_url:(typeof DIGG_URL==’string’?DIGG_URL:window.location.href); document.write(“”); } )() Author: Donald Latumahina Posted: Tuesday, September 4th, 2007 at 10:50 am Tags: achievement, attitude, lifestyle, performance, success Bookmark or Share this with a friend! […]

  9. That’s a good idea, James! Workplace is among the most important places to be indispensable in. Well, maybe the most important from financial point of view 🙂

  10. […] If the key to success is getting paid based on value, not time – then a critical part of success is increasing the value you provide to others. Donald Latumahina of Life Optimizer offers 30 Practical Tips to Make Yourself Indispensable to Others that is packed with practical ideas. […]

  11. I’m a student, and I help my Supervisor out a lot. In fact, I sometimes help her run her personal errands such as renewing her driver’s license or vehicle insurance (so you have an idea what other official or work-related things I do).

    But she always tells her students that “nobody is indispensable”.

  12. Pelf,
    It’s definitely not easy to become indispensable. The bottom line is we should try to be as useful as possible to others. At the end of the day we may or may not be indispensable, but as long as we’ve done our best there’s nothing to regret.

  13. Donald:

    What an exciting list you have here! Everyone wants to know how to make themselves more indispensable to others and you nailed it right on the head with this. Very enjoyable read. Thanks!

    I’m going to stumble you right now and hope to add you as a friend if I can find you at SU. 🙂

  14. Stephen,
    Welcome! I’m glad you enjoy it. Let’s learn together to put it into practice 🙂
    By the way, thanks for adding me in StumbleUpon; I’ve added you as well.

  15. Donald:

    Yup, let’s see if we can combine forces and see how we can make ourselves indispensable! Let’s stay in touch. Glad we stumbled each other.

    A quick question: I noticed you are able to list pingbacks at the very bottom of the comment section so that it doesn’t mix with the regular comments and clutter things. What plug-in did you use for that? I’m interested in having that on my site. I think it’d be quite helpful.


  16. Stephen,
    I do not use any plug-in for that, it is automatically done by the theme (Binary Blue). You can follow the link to Binary Blue page at the footer of this page if you want to.

  17. […] we all know it’s easier said than done. We all want to be liked and accepted for who we are. Yet sometimes letting other’s see our authentic self is scary. We are timid and afraid that we are not good enough or may offend someone, instead of relaxed and […]

  18. […] Give something to others. Find needs and fulfill them. By doing so you brighten someone else’s day and chance is your day will also be brightened. You can read some practical ways to do it in 30 Practical Tips to Make Yourself Indispensable to Others. […]

  19. No what your saying is kissing up, what you really mean is.
    Learn some of your bosses jobs and make him/her dependent on you by knowing quick answers and knowing company policy, make yourself likable by understanding the boss is always the boss, allow them that but know your words are as if the boss was speaking, always take the bosses side unless you know it will get them in trouble, then you warn them so they can make the correction. Its not easy and you will have to work hard to become knowledgeable.
    Good Luck and you would be surprised how much you will learn

  20. […] past. People hoping and wishing to make some money from home, wanting to be with their children, needing to be independent, desiring more freedom, etc. And yet, they sit on their laurels and continue wishing and […]

  21. Excuse me…

    A very useful link, but.. if you permit express myself.

    Be careful not to be extremely indispensable.

    Maybe you can be called in the middle of the night, or interrupted at a meal, .. or something else.

    There is a thin line between be useful and be abused.

    Good luck.

  22. Carlos,
    Thanks for the reminder. Being useful is always good, but being abused is no fun at at all.

  23. […] You may click to see:->30 Practical Tips to Make Yourself Indispensable […]

  24. […] 30 Practical Tips to Make Yourself Indispensable to Others […]

  25. […] like to see motivation through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There are eight levels of needs there (from the lowest to the highest): physical, security, […]

  26. […] the lower goal of making money sits on level 1 (Physical) or 4 (Esteem) of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the higher goal sits on level 8 (Transcendence). Consequently, the higher goal is more fulfilling. […]

  27. […] So it’s the start of a new year and I want to share a piece of advice that works for me…be indispensable. […]

  28. I would like to know where you have been hiding?? 🙂
    This is a great blog and I really like what you say in this article.

  29. […] 30 Practical Tips to Make Yourself Indispensable to Others (tags: SelfHelp self-improvement lifehack lifehacks) […]

  30. Excellent tips here. In today’s world, people need good leadership and heroes to set good examples for them. So I would add that it would be great to show good leadership for others. Also by setting good examples to others especially in health habits, financial habits and common courtesy on how to treat other people. These are areas that really do need improving in society in general so a leader in these areas will be of much value to others.

  31. Thanks for your tips to become indispensible for others, which are very helpful for me.

  32. I really like this list. It may seem a little touchy-feely, but I’ve found that it’s beneficial and rewarding to help others follow their passions, and be a resource for encouragement and learning.

    It comes back to you like you wouldn’t believe.

  33. I agree with everything you say here. One thing I have realised by applying some of these qualities, before I read your article is, that it can lead to those you are trying to help, inspire and support becoming jealous of you.

  34. Thanks for sharing. Very well done and straight forward. We all can learn.

  35. This is really good, I love it. All it takes now is to put it to practice…

  36. hey!this will hepl me very much.i can not imagin how can this help me but i can surely say that ths things help me to be a best then others

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