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Seth Godin's Linchpin WILL Stay With You
on January 26, 2010
While reading Linchpin I looked around a few times to see if author Seth Godin was perhaps peering through my living room window to see my reaction. It really felt like he was talking to me, singling me out. How could he know how I rationalize things?
"There are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you precisely what to do."
Linchpin is a most unusual, well-organized, concise book about what it takes to become indispensable in the workplace - whether you work for someone else (at any level) or are self-employed. It's about how business has rapidly changed and how treating employees like factory workers (or doing your job like one) doesn't work any longer. We must make choices and take action to "chart our own paths" and add value that others do not. We cannot wait for a boss or a job description to tell us what to do, rather we must just take the initiative ourselves. Only then can we become indispensable "linchpins," rather than replaceable "cogs." There are so many fantastic quotes in the book too.
"You don't become indispensable merely because you are different. But the only way to become indispensable is to be different. That's because if you're the same, so are plenty of other people."
The 14 chapters in this book are each broken down into short segments with great headlines that summarize them. Godin uses special vocabulary words to describe the many factors that go into becoming a linchpin. These words have unique meanings in the context in which they are used. You'll learn interpretations for terms such as art, thrashing, gifts, resistance, pranja, ship, lizard brain, shenpa, emotional labor and others.
"Art is unique, new and challenging to the status quo. It's not decoration. It's something that causes change. Art cannot be merely commerce. It must also be a gift."
You'll never be bewildered or bored while reading Linchpin. It will awaken a part of your brain that you may have never used before. It will make you take a deep look inside your thoughts, patterns and habits and oblige you to realize there are things you can change right now to become more of a success, a true "artist." In fact, you may find yourself sliding down in your chair a bit while reading, like I did. But that's okay; it's part of the learning process.
"If all you can do is the task and you're not in a league of your own at doing the task, you're not indispensable."
This is particularly true in the chapter on page 101 entitled The Resistance. Just this chapter alone is worth the price of the book. You've got to read it twice to really capture all it offers. Here you'll be faced with all the reasons why you're currently not as indispensable as you could be - as you should be. Have you ever delayed a project and not delivered (Seth calls this shipping) on deadline just because you were trying to achieve perfection? That's resistance. It is the "lizard brain" way-of-thinking that causes us to resist. Do you find yourself doing a lot of busy work (obsessive email checking, Tweeting, etc.) rather than taking action that really adds value? That's resistance too.
"The lizard brain is the reason you're afraid, the reason you don't ship when you can. The lizard brain is the source of the resistance."
Godin will educate you on what it truly means to be a valuable gift giver. He'll tell you that there's no map in existence to help you become an indispensable artist. He'll tell you that you have a choice to either "Fit in or stand out. Not both." He'll even tell you that there are times when your art will not work, and for whatever reason, you may not be able to get paid for your particular talent.
"Maybe you can't make money doing what you love (at least what you love right now) But I bet you can figure out what you can do to make money (if you choose wisely)."
"There is no map. No map to be a leader, no map to be an artist. I've read hundreds of books about art (in all its forms) and how to do it, and not one has a clue about the map, because there isn't one."
The only thing Seth Godin left out of his well-researched Linchpin book is that his principles can be applied not only to business but also to other aspects of a person's life. Linchpins can be better spouses, friends and community members at large. They can be truly indispensable in many ways.
"Nothing about becoming indispensable is easy. If it's easy, it's already been done and it's no longer valuable."
Ever read a business or marketing book that is interesting while you're reading it, but two days after you have finished it, you cannot really remember the gist of what you read? Linchpin is not one of those books. This one will stay with you. There is nothing else like it; it can change your future. That is, if you set your lizard brain aside and replace it with the true linchpin artist in you.