August 25, 2010 in Book reviews

Linchpin – Are you Indispensable?

I’ve recently read Seth Godin’s latest book, Linchpin (Amazon affiliate link), and it is certainly an impactful book.

This book has a manifesto feel to it; Godin starts with stark warnings about the future of employment, developing a very strong argument that our future employment could be at risk unless we do something radical. Godin looks at how the industrial revolution has got us to where we are today, and argues that our education system is geared towards producing people that fit into that system. However, Godin argues that the approach doesn’t work any more; that competing as a commodity just involves a race to the bottom; in a world where the internet allows the institution of Encyclopaedia Britannica to be overtaken by Wikipedia (with people doing things for free), anything could happen and is happening on a daily basis.

This fits with my own observations as I look around; job security and good pension provision may have been a reality just 20 or 30 years ago, but they are long gone. Many companies seem to be in a state of constant reorganisation with people regularly re-applying for their jobs. The state of the jobs market seems to be encouraging more people to apply for universities but the jobs situation for many graduates today is not good and shows no immediate prospect of improving.

Godin argues that we’ve indoctrinated people to fit into a system that is now broken and that the only way to succeed is by being remarkable – by becoming a Linchpin – and by going against the grain of so much that we’ve learned.

The book then goes into detail about how to become a Linchpin and doesn’t read like a typical business book as a lot of the focus is on passion, artistry, and generosity. One of my initial reactions was that the book is great if you work for yourself, but has limited appeal if you work for a large organisation. Godin, however, argues that (almost) any job can be a platform for generosity, expression, and art. So, we all have the ability to do remarkable things.

Whilst the book does have a lot of material about becoming a Linchpin, it doesn’t always just jump off the page and it does take quite a bit of effort to get at the application. However, nobody said that being remarkable was easy! I’ve read the book three times now and I’m finding more ideas on each re-read.

The practical application focuses on overcoming what holds us back (fear and what Godin calls the lizard brain), on seeing ourselves as artists, and on being generous.

This is most definitely a call for change, with plenty of material about how to become a Linchpin; I wasn’t massively enthusiastic about this on the first read but it is now in my top 10 and is influencing some of the things I’m doing. Well worth a read to disturb, inspire, and direct!

Note: I originally wrote this book review for the Leadership and Personal Development Virtual Book Club on LinkedIn.

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