A Poem for All of Us Bloggers


My main man Steve Nipper pointed out this poem to me.

There Is No Indispensable Man
by Saxon N. White Kessinger, Copyright 1959

Sometime when you’re feeling important;
Sometime when your ego’s in bloom
Sometime when you take it for granted
You’re the best qualified in the room,

Sometime when you feel that your going
Would leave an unfillable hole,
Just follow these simple instructions
And see how they humble your soul;

Take a bucket and fill it with water,
Put your hand in it up to the wrist,
Pull it out and the hole that’s remaining
Is a measure of how you will be missed.

You can splash all you wish when you enter,
You may stir up the water galore,
But stop and you’ll find that in no time
It looks quite the same as before.

The moral of this quaint example
Is do just the best that you can,
Be proud of yourself but remember,
There’s no indispensable man.

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By | 2016-10-24T14:27:35+00:00 April 25th, 2006|Categories: Blogging|31 Comments

About the Author:

Guy Kawasaki is the chief evangelist of Canva, an online graphic design tool. Formerly, he was an advisor to the Motorola business unit of Google and chief evangelist of Apple. He is also the author of The Art of Social Media, The Art of the Start, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur, Enchantment, and nine other books. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College.


  1. Phil Wheat April 25, 2006 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Or as a wise boss of mine used to say – “If you can’t be replaced, you can’t be promoted.”

  2. Michael Rolph April 25, 2006 at 10:42 am - Reply

    Humility? Gimmie a break– it’s sooo 1959.
    Gotta run, my Hummer is double-parked.

  3. Guy Kawasaki April 25, 2006 at 10:46 am - Reply

    You did leave it running with the air conditioning on, right?

  4. Scott Young April 25, 2006 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Great entry!

  5. Heidi Swift April 25, 2006 at 11:24 am - Reply

    I know a lot of art directors who should read this…

  6. Igor April 25, 2006 at 12:46 pm - Reply

    Your boss quoted wisely enough 🙂

  7. David Glue April 25, 2006 at 1:00 pm - Reply

    A great reminder, Thanks. It is a poem that has governed my life

  8. Off The Island April 25, 2006 at 1:57 pm - Reply

    Are you Indespensible?

    I thought this was a cool poem that Guy Kawasaki posted.  Doesnt really apply to me though!
    Yes, Natalie, I agree, it should be titled Indespensible Person, not Man.

  9. notgartner.com: Mitch Denny's Blog April 25, 2006 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Guy Kawasaki: There Is No Indispensible Man

  10. Vlad T April 25, 2006 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Will have to stick that somewhere… I read it fast (end of day RSS feeds reading) and thought that the end of what started with ‘Sometime when you’re feeling important’ and mentioned buckets filled with water, would be a big splash!

  11. Vicki Davis April 25, 2006 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    My dad has always said that the graveyard is full of folks who thought they were indispensible.
    This is great for addicted bloggers to read when they go on vacation — GO ON VACATION!
    You’re a great blogger, Guy!

  12. Pierre April 25, 2006 at 6:49 pm - Reply

    Steven does have a nicer bucket of water.

  13. Guy Kawasaki April 25, 2006 at 7:27 pm - Reply

    Indeed, Steven does. He’s a more experienced blogger than I am…

  14. A View from the Isle April 25, 2006 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    Exaggerated sense of self-importance

    Ads by AdGenta.com

    Jeremy Hanks April 25, 2006 at 8:23 pm - Reply

    Good to remember for all of us that might get big heads once in a while. Especially with blogging being a great big head inflator.

  15. Alex April 25, 2006 at 11:22 pm - Reply

    Although I like the poem and I will agree that it is well written, I am afraid that I must completely disagree with its message.
    A person does not need to be indispensable in order to make a lasting impression on the lives of those around them, and just because something can be replaced does not mean that when it is gone it will be forever forgotten as if it had never existed. I think this can be true for objects (will you ever forget your first guitar?) but it is especially true for human beings.

  16. Candy Minx April 26, 2006 at 9:45 am - Reply

    Many bloggers came from the world of hackers and the disenfranchised or alienated or classic “outsider” world. We are hardly the people who need to be reminded that we are just a small part or cog in mother natures universe. We felt alienated and replaceable our whole lives and were not often the kids who ran for class pres or worked their way in a corporation. Early bloggers were counter-culture, rebels and critical of the mentality that would compose such a poem about disposable humans.
    Sure, now we have people of economic and social stature in blogland….and that is all good, its all good, theres room for everybody, NO? All of mother natures children? But your poem is probably very good for anybody who gets a swelled head at whatever they do.
    Blogs had humble beginnings, its a sign of change when we find an anti-spiritual poem like this being used to associate with a once humble alternative cultural activity.
    Thats okay, if the people with heart and imagination or spirit have to move to another locale…or we are reminded YET again that we are nothing, so be it. We know art and social criticism and alternative views are rarely popular with business or status quo.
    Us regular folks know we are simple and a small part of existence. I find that slogans and self help business pep talks are needed for the mighty. The meek, well, we already know we are meek and not valuable financially to society.
    We shall continue to write poetry, and make art and literature about the heart and spirit and love while we struggle with the zen and karma and poetics of how to live in a world that also writes poems about replacable humans and corporate mindgames.
    I believe this poem was probably inteneded to humble that worker who thought they could get away with anything, but it symbolizes to me that the society we work in has thrived on hanging a threat of removal over what could have been an incredible revolution in work environments…the idea that one must be self challenging yet knew they could provide a living for their family. This poem is a reminder of the cutthroat operations of cutbacks lack of job security and devaluation of the human spirit.
    I find inspiration in your blog Mr. Kawasaki, but not today with this poem.
    Different strokes for different folks.
    Much love and best wishes,

  17. Bill April 26, 2006 at 10:22 am - Reply

    Reminds me of my favorite Bruce Lee quote “you put water in a cup it becomes the cup, you put it in a pot it becomes the pot, now water can flow or it can crash-be like water my friend”.

  18. Jon Cantin April 26, 2006 at 11:15 am - Reply

    Humility is a virtue, sadly forgotten by most within our society.
    There is NO difference between Bill Gates and a homeless guy on the street, they both occupy the same mortal shell we all share.
    As soon as we think we are “above” others, life will kick us back down one way or another.
    Founder of Legendarylife.com
    Life: http://jon.legendarylife.com

  19. mtv200流行音乐网站 April 26, 2006 at 8:22 pm - Reply

    Is thus, really quite good.

  20. Ken Keller April 27, 2006 at 1:05 am - Reply

    Just recently, I watched a clip of Donald Rumsfeld stating that the graveyards of the world are filled with indispensable men.

  21. Michael McKinney April 27, 2006 at 3:46 pm - Reply

    Thanks. I remember getting a reproduction of this poem on “parchment” at one of my first jobs.
    Og Mandino said, “Today, and every day, deliver more than you are getting paid to do. The victory of success will be half won when you learn the secret of putting out more than is expected in all that you do. Make yourself so valuable in your work that eventually you will become indispensable. Exercise your privilege to go the extra mile, and enjoy all the rewards you receive. You deserve them!”
    Unfortunately, the attitude you often get is “give me more money and then I’ll give you more effort.”
    Michael McKinney

  22. Nina Meiers April 28, 2006 at 12:43 am - Reply

    My father used to say about all the people who think they are indispensable….. Nina put your hand in a bucket of water, and take it out, and the space you leave will show how much they can be done without…..
    I confess, not much space was left when I took my hand out of water!! I was only young at the time, but got the message since dad did also follow it up with……And if you forget, go visit the cemetery. It’s full of people who thought the world would stop if they weren’t around……
    Cool poem, hard father though.

  23. Cafe del Marketing April 28, 2006 at 1:43 pm - Reply

    There Is No Indispensable Man

    There Is No Indispensable Man
    by Saxon N. White Kessinger, Copyright 1959
    Sometime when youre feeling important;
    Sometime when your egos in bloom
    Sometime when you take it for granted
    Youre the best qualified in the room,

  24. Cameron April 29, 2006 at 5:53 am - Reply

    Unless of course your name is Steve Jobs. You’re the bucket.

  25. Jocelyn Milici May 1, 2006 at 12:49 pm - Reply

    Thank God for family and friends… without them, would we all be dispensible? This thought-provoking poem made me stop and think, so I wrote more about it on my blog:

  26. Group Trip Advisor May 1, 2006 at 5:36 pm - Reply

    We’re Not Completely Dispensible

    I read a poem on Guy Kawasaki’s blog today that caught my attention. The theme was our dispensible nature in life. Sad, but often true, when it comes to the functions/roles we play in a companies, organizations, and the like.

  27. deannie May 3, 2006 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    I just had to link to your site since I enjoyed this poem so very much.
    Really appreciate your writings.

  28. Alex Sirota May 5, 2006 at 4:57 am - Reply

    This poem can be sung to the tune of James Taylor “You’ve got a Friend”
    When you’re down and lonely
    And you need a helping hand
    Try it… It’s magic.

  29. debbie November 19, 2006 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    Hate to rain on your parade, but this poem was published as anonymous. My father actually wrote it, and had a short story that went along with it.

  30. Chris Ceppi February 16, 2007 at 12:29 pm - Reply

    Hi Guy-
    I thought about this poem and I think it sucks.
    Here’s why:

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