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Can You Be Replaced?

One of the most intriguing tidbits of entertainment news to come across the ticker this weekend was the announcement that Ashton Kutcher would be taking Charlie Sheen’s place on the hit CBS comedy, “Two and a Half Men.” Sheen, with his, ah, highly-fueled personality, was fired from the show after incidents of drug use and nasty public wordplay about his employers.

Full disclosure–I’ve never seen a whole episode of the show (except one on a United flight from Chicago when I watched without the sound,  making up the dialogue in my head). And while I’m no stranger to trash TV, this type of sitcom has never appealed to me. But 15.2 million other people do watch. Plus, hundreds of people actually bought tickets to Sheen’s live standup show around the nation, where he reportedly has claimed that he’d be willing to go back to the show.

But his bosses had other ideas. And other options. Plus, other talent was willing to step in–John Stamos, Donny Osmond, and Hugh Grant reportedly expressed interest. Plus, even with his celeb status and TV experience, Kutcher is reportedly making half of Sheen’s salary–so the show goes on, at a lower cost.

So what’s the lesson for Red Cape Revolutionaries, who I constantly encourage to be bold, be their superselves, and challenge workplaces that don’t work? How do you stand up for yourself and your professional and personal value, and not lose everything?

The lesson here (in addition to “don’t do drugs” and “don’t be an a-hole in public”) is to ask yourself honestly “can I be replaced?

  • If you can–but don’t want to be–it’s time to think differently about the value you’re bringing or even how you’re communicating that value.
  • If you think you can’t be replaced, that’s great–and dangerous. Stop every so often to check that assumption. How would the current landscape at your workplace change if you were gone? Would the stuff you’re obsessed with right now continue–or go away because no one else is as passionate as you? Would your absence matter after a few weeks?

There’s an Ashton Kutcher out there for each of us. Keep bringing your superpowers to work and you won’t get punked.