Linchpin (Part 1)

I just finished reaching Linchpin by Seth Godin. I found this book fascinating since I’m already interested in a lot of topics he touched upon. I’ll try to give a brief summary but in no way does it do justice to what this book is about.

Seth Godin’s main point is that in order to succeed and flourish in today’s economy you have to strive for “art”. He doesn’t mean “art” in the way most people think about it, he basically uses art to mean two things. The first meaning – you have to pursue a career of artistry, pursue a career that you are really passionate and excited about. The second meaning is that you may not know what you are passionate about, but you have the opportunity each day to bring art into your work in your interactions, in the way you lead, in your attitude etc.

Ultimately, in today’s economy you can’t simply be a worker at your job because that is the fast track to becoming the first person laid off when things go sour. In the 21st century, the old factory worker mentality of doing the 8-5 in a soul sucking job doesn’t work. Workers are easily replaceable with technology and outsourcing so the only way to thrive is to become indispensable.

This is where it gets interesting, because how do you become indispensable? Seth Godin attempts to give a multi-faceted answer to this question. In a nutshell there is no map or rule book to follow in order to become indispensable, because if there was then it wouldn’t be art and it wouldn’t be special. However, there are things you can do such as going above and beyond your responsibilities, focusing on relationship development, or becoming a master in your domain such that it is impossible for the company to function without you. Becoming indispensable is as simple as bringing a positive attitude to the workplace and as complex as learning a new skill set.

I feel that most people deep down know how they could become indispensable. Everyone knows what they have to do in their work environment to get to the point of becoming invaluable. There are 2 reasons why we don’t take the steps. The first reason is that we are truly not excited about doing the type of “art” required in our current job. If that is the case it’s time to find the profession that aligns with the “art” we want to give to the world.

The second reason which is true for me is what Seth refers to as the “lizard brain”. The lizard brain is essentially that voice in your head that continually discourages you from expressing who you really are. The lizard brain is rooted in fear and anxiety, which ultimately holds us back. We basically have to get over this internal resistance in order to truly express who we are.

This resistance manifests when we think we aren’t good enough to speak up in a meeting, or meet a certain person, or accomplish a certain task. The lizard brain prevents us from being brave and courageous. By overcoming this resistance we will have the courage to express our art to the world.

I totally relate with what he is saying here. Up until a few years ago I was basically my resistance’s slave. I lacked the courage to really do much out of my comfort zone because it scared me. I stuck to the pre-ordained path since that is all I knew how to do. However, each time I do something that scares me or pushes me out of my comfort zone I grow an insane amount.

To be honest the easiest way to overcome this resistance is by becoming super aware. We are so used to reacting without thinking that we listen to this internal voice without thinking about it. However, if we cultivate awareness we’ll have that opportunity to choose our reaction. The way to react is by doing the exact opposite of what that internal voice is telling you. When the internal voice says not to express your authentic self to your co-worker you, have to do the exact opposite. When the internal voice says don’t do squats at the gym because people will know you are weak, you have to get up in front of everyone and do squats. When the internal voice says you lack rhythm don’t dance in front of people, you have to work up the courage to do the exact opposite.

This is the only way to grow and in my opinion this is the only way to truly become the Linchpin in your community the way Seth Godin describes. It is a hard road and it is scary but it is worth it. There is no end to this journey, I don’t want to feel totally comfortable all the time because that is when growth stops. To be honest, tackling these fears and overcome these resistances makes life truly exciting. Every time I overcome some lame fear I really do feel like I can do anything.

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