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.