Business Advice

Why you should become useless in business

- November 28, 2023 3 MIN READ
Most people try to make themselves useful in business. They want to prove they have value. That’s their hierarchy of value: ‘Whoever is useful is valuable.’. But is that really the case? asks Gary Douglas.I have a different point of view. I’ve done everything I can to get all the people I work with to the point where they don’t need my input at all. Once I’d done that, I said, “Wow, they don’t ask me things any more. They used to ask me about stuff. Now I am totally useless. I must be old. I’d better retire.” Just kidding – Retiring is not for me. But I do know that becoming useless in business, as counter-intuitive as it may sound, is key to expansion and growth.

These are my top 3 tips on how to create a thriving business by becoming useless.

1. Stop being the source. Start being the catalyst

Do you have to take care of everything and everyone in your business? If so, you are making yourself the source. If you make yourself the source, everybody has to turn to you, and you have to take care of them. Are you good at taking care of everybody? Do you like taking care of them?

Being a source is a conclusion, and it’s also an awareness. You are source. That’s true. But when you conclude that you are the source or must be the source, you create limitations and your people and your business will not function effectively when you are not around.

When working with people in your business, you want to be a catalyst, a possibility, or a choice for change, not the source for change. If you’re the source for change, you have to make all the decisions. That’s not what you want. You want people to be able to contribute to you and they can’t do that if you’re the source for all answers. You have to be the catalyst for getting people to look at possibilities instead of getting them to look to you as the source. You have to be able to create a catalytic response in people.


How do you create a catalytic response? By asking questions rather than giving answers. When someone comes to you for assistance, ask, “What else is possible here? What do you know about this? What action can you take?”

Questions empower. Answers disempower. Ask questions, become useless, and create change.

2. Be a possibility seeker, not a problem solver

One of the ways in which people try to prove their value is by solving problems. If you have an ability to solve any problem and that is how you feel useful, guess what you have to create in order to maintain that sense of value? Problems! Probably not your best choice.

A common point of view about creating business is that it has to be hard and there have to be problems to overcome. What if that is not true? What if creating your business could be as easy as breathing air? No struggle. Simply receiving.


The question you have to ask yourself is, “Would I rather create my business through solving problems or through exploring possibilities?” If you answered with possibilities, ask this question all the time, “What else is possible here that I have never considered?” Ask and discover a whole new world open up.

3. Create and generate something greater

If you truly want your business to grow, you’ve got to get to the point where you’re useless; however, you may be unwilling to lose your usefulness. If you work yourself out of a job, what do you do? Get bored? Stop creating? Or do you create and generate something greater? I chose the latter!

When I recognised that I had succeeded at being useless, I considered retiring and then decided, “No way! I’m out-creating all of this.” That choice opened the door for more businesses, more creations, more possibilities. I continue to out-create everything in business and this requires the people I work with to step up to a bigger game as a result. It is also an invitation for them to be as great as they can be.

Becoming useless in business is critical to continuous growth. Ask questions rather than offering answers. Empower people to know what they know and make choices based on that.

Look for possibilities rather than trying to solve problems. Be willing to be so different and to choose what has never been done before. This is where business becomes fun and as easy as breathing air, and it is how you create and generate something greater.

This article first appeared on Flying Solo. You can read the original here.


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