Linchpin

Linchpin – by Seth Godin

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Linchpin – Seth Godin

Linchpin shows our world is filled with factories. Factories that make widgets, insurance, websites, movies, take care of sick people and answer the phone. You can become a great factory worker if you pay attention in school, follow instructions, show up on time and try hard and in return they would take care of you. You won’t have to be brilliant, creative or to take big risks. The factories would pay you a lot of money, give you health insurance and offer you job security. It’s a pretty seductive bargain, so seductive for that century, we embraced it. We set up our school and our systems and our government to support that bargain.

For a long time it worked, but in the face of competition and technology, the bargain has fallen apart: job growth is flat at best, wages in many industries are on a negative cycle, the middle class is under siege like never before, and the future appears dismal. People are no longer being taken care of: pensions are gone, 401ks have been sliced in half and it’s hard to see where to go from here.

Suddenly, in the scheme of things, it seems like the obedient worker bought into a suckers deal. You weren’t born to be a cog in the giant industrial machine, you were trained to become a cog. The bargain is gone and it’s not worth whining about and it’s not effective to complain. There’s a new bargain now, one that leverages talent and creativity and art more than it rewards obedience

A linchpin is an unassuming piece of hardware, something you can buy for 69 cents at the local hardware store. It’s not glamorous, but it’s essential. It holds the wheel onto the wagon, the thingamajig onto the widget. Every successful organization has at least one linchpin, some have dozens or even thousands. The linchpin is the essential element, the personal who holds part of the operation together. Without the linchpin, things fall apart.

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The Deal Your Parents Signed You Up For

Linchpin by Seth Godin shows us that our world is filled with factories. Factories that make widgets, insurance, websites, movies, take care of sick people and answer the phone. You can become a great factory worker if you pay attention in school, follow instructions, show up on time and try hard and in return they would take care of you. You won’t have to be brilliant, creative or to take big risks. The factories would pay you a lot of money, give you health insurance and offer you job security. It’s a pretty seductive bargain, so seductive for that century, we embraced it. We set up our school and our systems and our government to support that bargain.

For a long time it worked, but in the face of competition and technology, the bargain has fallen apart: job growth is flat at best, wages in many industries are on a negative cycle, the middle class is under siege like never before, and the future appears dismal. People are no longer being taken care of: pensions are gone, 401ks have been sliced in half and it’s hard to see where to go from here.

Most white-collar workers wear white collars, but they are still working in the factory. They push a pencil or process an application or type on a keyboard instead of operating a drill press. The only grease is from their take out food at lunch. But it’s factory work. The white collar job was supposed to have saved the middle class because it was machine proof. A machine could replace the guy hauling widgets, but never replace someone answering the phone. Worse, most organisations have replaced those workers.

Suddenly, in the scheme of things, it seems like the obedient worker bought into a suckers deal. You might be a hardworking secretary the one with institutional knowledge, the personal who has given so much that deserves security and respect. And whilst you deserve them, there is no guarantee you’ll get them.  The educated hardworking masses are still doing what they are told, but they are no longer getting what they deserve. It’s futile to work hard at restoring the ‘take care of you’ bargain.

You weren’t born to be a cog in the giant industrial machine, you were trained to become a cog. The bargain is gone and it’s not worth whining about and it’s not effective to complain. There’s a new bargain now, one that leverages talent and creativity and art more than it rewards obedience

 

The Linchpin

 

A linchpin is an unassuming piece of hardware, something you can buy for 69 cents at the local hardware store. It’s not glamorous, but it’s essential. It holds the wheel onto the wagon, the thingamajig onto the widget. Every successful organization has at least one linchpin, some have dozens or even thousands. The linchpin is the essential element, the personal who holds part of the operation together. Without the linchpin, things fall apart.

 

The easiest linchpin examples to find are CEOs and entrepreneurs because they get all the press, Steve Jobs at Apple, Jeoff Bezos, etc. But what about that great guy down at the vegetable stand? The one who makes it worth a special trip past the cheaper and more convenient super market. If he left, the place would go downhill and you’d stop going. All the rent, all the inventory, all the investment – they’re worthless if he leaves. As far as you, the customer are concerned, he is indispensable.  Or have you purchased consulting services, or a house, because the person you worked with made a powerful connection with you? If so, then she was the linchpin in the entire process

So how do you become the indispensable Linchpin and thrive in the modern economy?

 

Short bursts of brilliance

The more value you create in your job, the fewer clock minutes of labour you actually spend creating that value. In other words, most of the time you’re not being brilliant. Most of the time you do stuff that ordinary people do. A brilliant author, businesswoman or senator or software engineer is brilliant in tiny bursts, the rest of the time they’re doing work that most any trained person can do. It might take a lot of tinkering or low level work or domain knowledge for that brilliance to be evoked, but from the outside, it appears art is created in the moment not in tiny increments.

 

Becoming a trouble shooter

Your restaurant has four waiters, and tough times require you to lay someone off: 3 of them work hard. The other is good, but a master at solving problems. He can placate an angry customer, finesse the balky computer system, and mollify the chef when he’s had too much to drink. Any idea who has the most secure job?

 

Dealing with the fear

What separates a linchpin from an ordinary person is how they would handle the fear. Most of us feel the fear and react to it. We stop doing what is making us afraid, then the fear goes away. The linchpin feels the fear, acknowledges it, then proceeds. We can’t tell you how to do this, it’s different for everyone. What we can tell you is that in today’s economy, doing it is a prerequisite for success.

 

Becoming remarkable

You don’t become indispensable merely because you are different. But the only way to be indispensable is to be different. That’s because if you’re the same, so are plenty of other people. The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce the interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.

 

Becoming more human

Think about this, if your organization wanted to replace you with someone far better at your job than you, what would they look for? It is unlikely that they’d seek someone willing to work more hours, more industry experience or who could score slightly better on the standardized test. No, the competitive advantage the marketplace demands is someone more human, connected and mature. Someone with passion and energy, capable of seeing things as they are and negotiating multiple priorities as she makes useful decisions without angst. Flexible in the face of change, resilient in the face of confusion. All of these attributes are choices, not talents, and all of them are available to you.

 

Seeking failure

Successful people are successful for one simple reason: they think about failure differently. They learn from failure, but the lesson they learn is a different one. They don’t learn that they shouldn’t have tried in the first place, they don’t learn that they are always right and the world is wrong , and they don’t learn that they are losers. They learn that the tactics they used didn’t work or that the person they used them on didn’t respond. You become a winner because you’re good at losing.

 

Seeking discomfort

Going out of your way to find uncomfortable situations isn’t natural, but it’s essential. The road to comfort is crowded, and it rarely gets you there. Ironically, it’s those who seek out discomfort that are able to make a difference and find their footing. Discomfort brings engagement and change. Discomfort means you’re doing something that others were unlikely to do, because they’re busy hiding out in the comfortable zone. When your uncomfortable actions lead to success, the organization rewards you and bring s you back for more

Sounds like the kind of person you want to hire?

 

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