Becoming A LinchpinLinchpin is about personal leadership and is the most leadership oriented book Godin has written to date. He makes a good case for developing yourself to reach your potential against the backdrop of the changing workplace. Changing workplace or not, it is the thing to do.
In the industrial workplace it was easier, even expected that you could hide behind your job in exchange for job security. “You weren’t born to be cog in the giant industrial machine. You were trained to become cog.” (His assessment of our educational system is spot on.) Today successful companies are looking for people who make a difference—linchpins.
“Linchpins are the essential building blocks of tomorrow’s high-value organizations. They don’t bring capital or expensive machinery, nor do they blindly follow instructions and merely contribute labor.” Linchpins don’t worry about what’s in it for them, but instead focus on giving gifts that change people. They can see the reality of today and describe a better tomorrow. That is, if they can ignore that voice inside that tells them to keep their head down, don’t make waves, don’t stand out. Godin identifies that voice as your lizard brain.
Overcoming the lizard brain takes training. “In the face of greed or fear from the amygdala [a-MIG-da-la or lizard brain], an untrained person surrenders.” “The goal,” says Godin, “is to quit the tasks you’re doing because you’re hiding on behalf of the lizard brain and to push through the very tasks the lizard fears.” He notes, “Ironically, it’s those who seek out discomfort that are able to make a difference and find their footing.”
The good news is that this doesn’t necessarily mean you need to change your job, your boss or your co-workers. That wouldn’t solve your problem anyway. The problem rests with you—your attitude. The difference between a cog and a linchpin really comes down to attitude. It requires a change of attitude. It means choosing to do your old job in a new way.
A choice to not hide your best work. A choice to find your opportunities to make something happen. A choice to overcome the resistance you face in doing your work because what you have to offer is important enough to make the effort.
The subtitle of the book asks, “Are you indispensable?” When talking about being indispensable, we need to distinguish between your value and your attitude. By developing your unique gifts—becoming more of who you are—you are increasing your value, exposing your gifts, and making yourself indispensable in a “there is no one like you” sense. That’s different than thinking you are indispensable. That’s an attitude that will lead you to self-destruction. (Mike Myatt expresses well the pitfalls of that kind of thinking.) I don’t think Godin is advocating arrogance or parading a “you can’t do without me" attitude. Instead, he is advocating that we make the choice to develop our unique combination of gifts and give them to the world in a way that makes a difference—to change people’s lives with what is the indispensable contribution that every human being can make if they will but choose to overcome the resistance to play it safe and aim for average.
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