Are You An Artist? A Review of Seth Godin’s LINCHPIN

Over last couple of weeks, I was reading and re-reading Seth Godin’s remarkable book “Linchpin”. I have been following Seth’s blog and books since last 4 years. This book has brilliant ideas that can change the way you work, how you work and most importantly, why you work.

Linchpin urges us all to be artists – to be the best we can, to take our work to such a level that it is viewed as an art. Seth says that manufacturing world required cogs – people who follow the instructions, were compliant, low-paid and replaceable. New world of work needs people who care, who are original thinkers, risk-takers, provocateurs – Linchpins, who are difficult to replace.

Linchpin is about being remarkable – being different and being original.

On being an artist – Seth says:

‘You can be an artist who works with oil paints or marble, sure. But there are artists who work with numbers, business models, and customer conversations. Art is about intent and communication, not substances.”

This book also introduces us to “Lizard Brain” – a little voice inside our head that prevents us from being different. This voice convinces us to stick to old ways of doing work – because doing it differently is a risk, of failure and embarrassment. Lizard brain thrives on our strongest emotion – fear.

Organizations need more linchpins to deliver more value – and for people, their jobs are a platform to deliver value, to be generous, to express their unique skills and be an artist.

The book also made me realize that doing “emotional labor” is extremely important to be a linchpin. Emotional labor is the task of doing an important work, even when it is not easy. It is about walking that extra mile, when you don’t feel like doing it. A larger part of work involves doing things we don’t particularly love doing. But unless that is done, art cannot happen.

The book is a GREAT read (also a NY Times bestseller), because it drives important points home with brilliant examples and stories along the way. I specially liked the diagrammatic representation of ideas – making it simple and easy.  A blog post is way too short to express the profoundness of messages this book encapsulates.

Most people don’t know about their unique gifts – their art. It sometimes takes a lifetime to discover what their art really is. This prompted me to ask a question to Seth. Here is the question and Seth Godin’s response:

Tanmay: Being a Linchpin is impossible without actualizing with one’s gifts (that we are all born with). How does one discover these gifts and unwrap them for the world?

Seth Godin: To use your analogy, if you want to find gifts, you have to look under the tree. And if you don’t know which tree, look under all of them. Too many people want a promise that the effort will be instantly rewarded. It won’t. Fail frequently. That’s the only way I know.

Tanmay: Thank you so much. “Fail Frequently. Ship Early. Ship Often. Realign” that is my takeaway and probably the only way to discover your gifts.

Seth Godin: Thanks Tanmay! Keep Shipping.

Thanks Seth, for that insightful conversation through your book and your response.

Linchpin is a wake-up call – to stop being ordinary and compliant and start being remarkable. Life – as Seth says – is too short not to do something that matters!

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P.S: Check out Carnival of Management Improvement at Curious Cat Management Improvement Blog by John Hunter – fantastic collection of posts on leadership, improvement, lean and quality. Carnival includes my post “Building a Culture To Promote Differential Thinking