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Work yourself out of your job? Yes, Really!

I've been thinking of one of my college profs who decades ago encouraged us to 'work ourselves out of a job.' I’ve never forgotten the words, although I have forgotten the name of the course and of the prof.

Why did she give the advice to work yourself out of your job?

You do your work well. You contribute to your employer’s mission and bottom line. So why work yourself out of that job? It doesn’t make sense. Or does it?

The prof was suggesting that we needn’t hoard knowledge which can be passed on to others. Knowledge is power, and powerful. It permits us to take initiative, informed about process and possible outcomes. It elevates us and our spirit. We feel empowered (there’s that word again) and confident rather than helpless and clueless.

What I did to work myself out of a job

In hindsight, I see that I took my prof's advice to heart. Through the years and across numerous platforms, I distilled technical information into usable, understandable pieces; knowledge which anyone might use to their benefit or through them, to benefit others.

As a lawyer, I wrote and led sessions of community education, geared to working myself out of part of my job. How? By offering strategies to handle difficulties, hopefully being resolved without resource to an attorney. I also worked on legislation and informed stakeholders of the implications.

Today I am a Champion associated with The Conversation Project. As such, I speak to groups—not about what’s the matter with you, but rather about what matters most to you based on your values for a satisfying and fulfilling life, however long or short that may be. And I offer valuable tips and action steps.

Inquire now about virtual or in-person presentations as we approach National Health Care Decisions Day on April 16. (

I also work myself out of a job by writing. My award-winning book, The Courage to Care: Being Fully Present with the Dying, was described as “a must-read for even the most seasoned professionals,” by an internationally acclaimed reviewer. ( After all, dying is not a matter of if, but when—for each of us.

I’ve been a long-time educator—as well as a parent—engaging across the decades with passing on knowledge. In various ways I continue to work myself out of a job.


Do you work yourself out of your job?

Not everyone has this mindset of working together and sharing information for the benefit of all, whether inside or outside the place of employment. Some—for varied reasons of spite or fear their position will be phased out or superiority at knowing what others do not know—prefer to hold on to every bit of valuable information and hide it from co-workers and management.

When we collaborate and educate, we improve the wellbeing of those receiving our information. We also can feel pride at knowing our field well, thereby aiding another who lacks the background to successfully address the problem before them.

What are your thoughts about this notion of working yourself out of your job? I welcome learning about you and your work.

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