Last Night with the Linchpins

On 6-14, Linchpins gathered in local cafes, bars, and bookstores across the globe. Inspired by Seth Godin and his latest book of the same name, the gatherings were a way to connect with like-minded people ready to make things happen — things that matter.

The Linchpin Meet-Up was billed as “… the first ever unofficial official Seth Godin Linchpin worldwide Meetup.  A completely non-commercial chance to find and connect with other members of Seth’s tribe, an opportunity to talk, challenge, and inspire your fellow travelers.”

Read the write-up from Sandra Walker about the Linchpin event in Chicago on 6-14. (There were others happening locally too. Suburbs split off. The Chicagoland metro area covers quite a bit of territory.)

When I find people on Facebook or Linked-In or some flavor of a Ning site, I usually comment that there are so many ways to connect.  There are membership sites growing like crazy. I awoke this morning in a panic about all the circles that I have chosen to belong to, all the classes that I’m still committed to completing. The overwhelm is palpable.

With so many ways to connect, online conversations and tribes can be in some ways easier to manage. You can draw from the entire world to attract your people who resonate at the same frequency.  I was pleasantly surprised by the Linchpins event. People self-selected, people who like Seth Godin’s work, who think like Linchpins, who are determined to do work that matters. It was nice to connect face to face for a change.

Even Seth Godin Revises

“Perhaps we need people to sweep the floor or clean the deep fryer. But it doesn’t have to be you…”

Surely not everyone” was the subject on the email. I read Seth Godin’s latest post via Feedburner subscription that landed in my inbox. I loved what he had to say — Except for that sentence above. I was all ready to take exception, to do a post that points out another way of looking at the floor sweepers and deep-fryer cleaners.

There was a bit of the same attitude in Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, his most recent book, and I still take exception.

Why? Because everyone, no matter what job, can bring to it a sense of purpose, dignity, and commitment to shining their inner light. No matter what job. It’s the inner light that counts. So I was all set to start my rant, then clicked over to Seth Godin’s blog post for today, what is now online.

Lo and behold. That sentence (above) was gone. It was replaced with this: “Perhaps some people will insist that there are jobs where no humanity is possible. But you don’t have to work for them.”

Well, true enough. But people need the jobs. And they can still bring their light and their humanity to the process of their work. It’s not ideal. It’s an uphill battle. But even a tiny candle in the darkness creates more light than was there before.

Visualize lighting birthday candles. If you’re like me, you light one candle, then ignite the rest of the candles on the cake using the first candle you lighted. One candle can light many others.

And what of the assumption that “we” don’t want those types of jobs? Who is this “we?” I take it to mean people making a commitment to making a difference. Ultimately doesn’t everyone want to own their greatness? Isn’t making a contribution the reason that we’re here?

Ultimately I agree with Seth Godin: Potential Linchpins lurk inside nearly everyone. And I’d say an important part of stepping into that Linchpin role is to uncover whatever it is that makes us shine, that lights our fire and helps us come alive.

Bringing that light and aliveness into the workplace or the endeavor or the creation — that’s the starting point. Then you’re keeping the light alive, coaxing and cajoling the flame, stirring the embers, so that you ultimately get the fire to a point that it helps you cook up whatever is important and will make the difference — the connection. The connection within. The connection with your perfect people, your tribe. The connection with your creation, the gift you give.

He knows how to end strong, Seth does. “We make a difference to other people when we give gifts to them, when we bring emotional labor to the table and do work that matters… your ability to create and contribute isn’t determined at birth. It’s a choice.”

Agreed.  Thanks for revising, Seth.

Add Accountability–Blog Challenge Post 19

On the Write Synergies Path to Owning Your Greatness, the first step, awakening awareness, is an  inner movement. To balance that, the second step is an outer movement, add accountability.

Adding accountability is the step where we make promises (like dates and deadlines and word counts) and then develop the systems and support to help us meet the deadlines and keep the promises. By meeting the deadlines and keeping the promises, we are more likely to complete the project, what Seth Godin, in his book,  Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, likes to call “shipping.”  It means getting it done well enough and out the door. Without adding accountability, without a firm commitment along with a system of supports to hold us to our commitments, very little actually gets done.

Seven Ways to Add Accountability and Own Your Greatness

To add accountability, you’ll want to write out your milestones and trail markers. Then you need to share those markers in a public sphere, even if it’s just a one-on-one support system. Here are seven possibilities —  some of the proven ways you can write your list of commitments and grab some accountability. Use one or a combination, or  all seven.

1 Hire a coach.

2 Set up a one-to-one accountability peer partner.

3 Join or create a Mastermind group and then make your commitments within that framework.

4 Sign  up for a course — and do the homework if that will lead you to completing your commitment.

5 Gather a community around your commitment and make it a group challenge. (like our 30-day blogging challenge)

6 Have a deadline and someone expecting your work or project.

7 Make a promise in a public sphere. (to your client list, on your blog, on a radio  interview).

Adding accountability is a crucial step to Owning Your Greatness. Why? Because the promises to ourselves are the ones most often broken. What lies closest to the heart of the matter, what is dearest to your heart, is somehow the thing that is most often overlooked. Promises and intentions to create from our deepest gifts are too often forgotten or overlooked, and our brainchildren become like orphans.

And in the interest of full disclosure, this is one of my weakest links. I help other people and my clients with this all the time. It’s part of the process, but it is the part that I have the most challenges with. My own creative projects have been the ones that regularly get moved to the back burner. That’s what has been so delicious for me with the 30 Day Blogging Challenge. It has been a chance to create my own work within a framework of a community.

Adding accountability is how we can be there for each other.

As we move into the final third of the 30 day blog challenge, it’s a special time to thank all the fellow travelers in #blog30. The accountability of having this group, of making the commitment to play together, of carrying through together and cheering each other on, has been spectacular.  And it also seems an ideal venue for reiterating the importance of adding accountability. In our case, it’s been a process of writing to add accountability.

Follow the blogging challenge on Twitter at #blog30 and #mini7.

Linchpin’s Message: Own Your Genius and Live It

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

So asks Seth Godin in his latest bestseller, Linchpin. I could go on and on about it. In fact, I have pages of notes, quotes, and inspirations. His latest is an impassioned plea for all of us to recognize our genius and use it — specifically in the workplace.  There’s a lot in here that dovetails with the message of “The Write Synergies Path to Owning Your Greatness,” of living your legacy and sharing your gifts with the world.

Seth Godin is speaking directly to the hearts of millions of dispirited working folk who walk around half alive most of the time because they thought their whole self was not welcome at work.

But stirring things up the way he does can be scary when so much in the work world is becoming commodified. (That old race to the bottom, lowest-cost goods and services achieved by finding the cheapest labor.) But some people and businesses manage to sidestep that commodification.

The story we’ve all assumed is that customers want the cheapest stuff. But maybe there’s a crack in that facade.  Don’t we see at least a few who are wanting something extraordinary in their customer experience as well? Some customers even seem willing to pay for that something “extra,” the unique and human, the creative, the “art.”

Seth Godin highlights that something extra as “emotional labor,” (from the work of Arlie Hochschild) and points out that this “emotional labor” may be the one thing that we are most suited to  provide. We are potentially geniuses, due in no small part to the emotional labor, the connections we make, the tenor of our interchanges when we allow our brilliant selves to shine. Yes, we have to come out of hiding and invisibility.

The “emotional labor” that we put into what we create becomes the basis of the art of our lives and work, the basis of the new maps of the territory that are so needed, the much-needed emotional connection in the exchanges of our work lives. Sounds good.

BUT for the Resistance. The heart of the book, the longest chapter, and the one Seth Godin actually “begs” his readers to read, is “The Resistance,” running 49 pages. Why do we regularly and systematically fall back to the old, seemingly “safe” habits of invisibility, of not standing out? He attributes this problem to what he terms “the lizard brain,” that has seen to our survival as a species for hundreds of thousands of years.

And this is exactly what we don’t need to do now. The lizard brain is leading people down the wrong path — the path of busywork, of doing what doesn’t matter, and not producing much of anything that does matter because we are so intent on keeping our heads down and staying invisible.

Seth Godin has trained himself to ignore the “lizard brain” and “ship.”  “Shipping,” in this context, is getting the work out there. I’ve been in business for myself for a decade now.  It’s moderately easier to “ship” as a solo — Getting the client work done and out there. It’s also somewhat easier to stand out as a solo and harder to hide. It’s much easier to take Seth Godin’s message to heart, because as solos, we are our own team. We have to create the gifts and the art, the indispensability as we serve our people, our “Tribes,” a term I’ve embraced from Seth Godin’s previous book of the same name.

Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us

The publisher I worked for (before my foray into the entrepreneurial life) published some books from Seth Godin’s original book packaging company, eventually some by Seth Godin himself.  This decade-old connection reminds me that we in corporate businesses and entrepreneurial ventures alike have been holding our collective breaths, waiting for permission to show up fully.  We’ve been hiding out. Someone has pulled back the curtain on Oz. And it’s time to stop hiding.

Revel in the gifts of insight, the art, the perspectives that Seth Godin shares in his most personal book to date. The message ties back beautifully to one of his blog posts, “You Matter.”  Read it. It’s powerful. I mentioned this post in my blog earlier too.

The sign of a great book: Like a jazz combo, lots of improv and riffs flow from the central starting point.  That’s a big part of the gift that Seth Godin has made to us at the beginning of this new decade.  In his own blog and those of his circle and tribe, the ideas continue to flow, to be refined, discussed. We experience the concepts in motion, with people taking action, mobilizing around the insights to bring them off the page and into the office, taking things further.  It’s his gift, and it’s a big one. Get the artifact  — the book Linchpin — and enjoy the gifts. Don’t forget to continue the conversation.

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?

( If you click, you will be taken to the book’s Amazon page where I, as an affiliate, will get a small referral percentage if you purchase.)

More full disclosure: I was among the early recipients of the book to review in exchange for a donation to the Acumen fund.  Admittedly,  I’m late in “shipping” this commentary/riff/review.  But I hope that won’t stop you from exploring the gift that Seth Godin is offering. It’s high time we bring our whole selves to our work, and truly give our gifts and own our greatness.