Be Essential Like Air

None of us get out of bed and ask, is there any air available today?

Air is always there, so we don’t value it. We give less thought to the mixture of gases that keep us alive than what we’ll watch on Netflix tonight.

Try to function without air though and see how you feel. I try to do without air when I explore the coastal waters around Sydney, Australia. Holding my breath underwater* is inexpensive when compared to purchasing SCUBA gear, but bloody difficult to do.

If we choose not to breathe, carbon dioxide builds up in our blood and triggers a response known as the urge to breathe. This signal for our respiratory muscles to get to work is literally impossible to ignore. Only experienced individuals can push through that signal.

Time to experiment on yourself

You do not need to find a body of water to experience the urge to breathe. Get comfortable on your couch with a stopwatch and see how long you can hold your breath for.

Go on, try it. I’ll wait…




How long did you last without air?

How about that urge to breathe? Unpleasant, right?

I’m sure your first gulp of the invisible thing you took for granted after that experiment tasted sweeter than your favourite dessert.

How valuable is what you do?

No doubt about it, air is valuable, but it is the absence of air that determines its value. We would exchange anything for air if we’re deprived of it.

If what you do is scarce, people will want it because they can’t get it anywhere else. Ask yourself – If I was not working on this project, making this thing or providing this service, would anyone care? Would my absence be felt?

If what you do is readily available in the marketplace, you can be outbid and easily replaced. Don’t do that thing. Be unique. Be essential like air.

*Please do not hold your breath underwater (freediving) without an experienced dive buddy watching over you. Try it on the couch instead.

2 Replies to “Be Essential Like Air”

  1. Absolutely love this post. I have never thought of it that way – if I stopped doing what I do would anyone notice or care? Much of my life the answer would have been no, but I am very pleased so say, now it’s a yes.

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