Indispensable You: Seth Godin’s Linchpin

Linchpin by Seth Godin

Linchpin:  Are You Indispensable?

Seth Godin

Penguin.  2010.  244 pgs.

I follow and enjoy Seth Godin’s blog, so I thought it was time to check out one of his books.   In Linchpin, Godin  throws down some really interesting ideas.  I’ve tried to capture a few:

  • Workers used to be classified as two types:  management and labor, but Godin talks about a new type:  the linchpin.  These are the people who make a difference, stand out from the pack, and take responsibility for their own (and their organization’s) success.
  • The death of the industrial age means that the entire system we are all familiar with — bosses and workers, teachers and students, the factory and cogs/widgets,  — are gone forever.  This is scary but it also creates huge opportunities.
  • Charting a path is a choice, and what everything is about.
  • The linchpin is the person who can invent, create, connect, and see farther than today.  This is the person who is totally present and also has their fingertip on the future.  This could be you!
  • Becoming a linchpin is about recognizing your gift, and seeing yourself as an artist.
  • Art is anything that changes someone for the better.  It could be an interaction with someone.  It is focused on gift giving.
  • Linchpins must be brave and must stand up and stand for something.   They must give their gift.  They are the individuals who can point the organization toward the future.  Linchpins do not wait for instructions.
  • It’s hard to be a linchpin because it’s scary.  We all have a “lizard brain” that tell us to keep our head down, go with the flow, wait for instructions, and stay the course.  Part of this tendency hearkens back to patterns found in the educational system where it is a whole lot easier dealing with 30 kids filling out worksheet than it is with 30 kids with lots of ideas and questions.  As products of that system, many of us are afraid to discern our true gifts and become linchpins.
  • Linchpins have the following super powers:  leading customers, inspiring staff, providing deep domain knowledge, possessing a unique talent, delivering unique creativity, managing situations of great complexity, and providing unique interface between members of the organization.

This was a fun, thought-inspiring read.  At first I was a bit annoyed by Godin’s tendency to repeat himself — I chafed a bit thinking, this could all just be a shorter blog piece, not a full-length book.  But when I analyzed it, Godin doesn’t repeat himself as much as he weaves back and forth, connecting and re-connecting his ideas.  Godin provides lots of great examples of linchpins and this helps a great deal to enliven his concepts.

My main takeaway was, how can I be a linchpin?  How can I be the one who sees the future, connects others generously, and gives my gift without fear?  I work in a fairly traditional, hierarchical organization; Godin’s advice will be a challenge — but not an impossible one.

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