Channeling the Inner Linchpin

I finished reading Seth Godin’s Linchpin close to two weeks ago, and though I knew that I would really enjoy the book, I had no idea how necessary it was that I read it when I had.

Linchpin made me an active student reader once again Photo credit: nishaksquared
Linchpin made me an active student reader once again.
Photo credit: nishaksquared

The cover of the book really says it all: are you indispensable? The question piques your interest and challenges you to think about work in a different way.

In what he calls our “new world of work,” Godin defines a linchpin as “the one person” who “own[s] their own means of production, who can make a difference, lead us and connect us.” Long gone is the factory, mass production mindset; the Internet has changed that. In its stead is a more human, customizable approach that we can all bring not only to the workplace, but into any arena of our lives.

I read Linchpin just as I was planning the launch of my new venture. After over a year of debating whether or not I should just do it, I finally realized that it was time that I put my ideas to work. Thoughts and solutions were flowing out of me steadily. It was refreshing, and I felt like my best, most motivated self as I laid out my plans.

But as I jotted them down and fleshed them out further, I was also needled by the questions and doubts of all entrepreneurs, writers, artists and freelancers. How can I make this work? Will I make any money? Am I any good at this? Will anyone pay attention to me? Will people get it? Can this brainchild of mine really be something?…

And the list goes on and on.

Needless to say, you can get stuck in a real rut if you give too much power to those questions. Yes, they are important to ask, but it’s just as important to note when you’re paralyzed into inaction by fear. Godin has 1,001 good points to make, but this one  felt like he was speaking directly to me:

The linchpin feels the fear, acknowledges it, the proceeds… What I can tell you is that in today’s economy, doing [that] is a prerequisite for success.


This statement is one I’ve heard many times in many different ways, but it really resonated in the moment that I read it. I reflected on the numerous people I’ve met over the years who had an idea and the courage of their convictions to give it a real go and see what could happen. I have always admired those people, especially the ones who are able to balance doing the work that they love with the kind of life they want to live. I love the possibility and optimism of seeing what can be done rather than what cannot.

Reading Godin’s book made me think a lot about my inner linchpin, about the leader, connector and artist within me. The values he presents in his book, particularly in redefining what is an artist and a genius, and how we can be the best version of ourselves, echo the values I’ve held close to my heart for years. I just didn’t articulate  those values  the same way  Godin has.

So, yes: I do highly suggest you read his book. I am a fan of Godin’s work, so you make think me unbiased, but there is real value to what he says because it forces you think differently than the (social and personal) status quo.

And I think it’s good to think differently about how you can make your work matter because that’s the road to more lasting professional — and personal — satisfaction.


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