Don’t fear fear itself. Be creative and original, embrace self-discipline and, perennial bestseller Seth Godin asserts, you can become a linchpin.
Seth Godin, the founder and former CEO of the Squidoo publishing platform, is the almost unbelievably prolific, successful and influential author of the bestsellers Tribes, All Marketers Are Liars and We Are All Weird, among others.
If you absorb Godin’s unceasingly enthusiastic advice to excel on all fronts, you may end up as a star – or, conversely, as overworked and underappreciated. His antidote to mediocrity and conformity is so convincing it may foment the unintended consequence of making you the go-to person for your entire organization. Godin stipulates that everyone faces a choice: You can live day after day, year after year, going through the motions, doing work devoid of excitement and imagination. Or you can choose uniqueness and ingenuity by becoming a linchpin – an invaluable, indispensable employee, the center of your company’s activities.
The problem is that our culture has engaged in a Faustian bargain, in which we trade our genius and artistry for apparent stability.Seth Godin
Nobody, it seems, doesn’t like Seth Godin. Tony Hsieh, the late founding CEO of Zappos.com, said of this book, “This is what the future of work (and the world) looks like. Actually, it’s already happening around you.” And Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company, said, “You hold in your hands a compelling, accessible and purpose-filled book…Your future will thank you!”
Godin’s other popular manuals – which each have a similar attitude but a different focus or emphasis – include The Practice: Shipping Creative Work; This is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See; What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and It’s Always Your Turn) and Purple Cow. Another writer plowing somewhat similar fields is Dan Roam, author of The Back of the Napkin, Show and Tell, and The Pop-Up Pitch, among others.
No Job Security
Godin recalls that for more than 100 years, companies promised decent wages, benefits and job security in exchange for the obedience of workers who were terrified of self-expression, innovation or risk. The author recognizes that this employer-employee system has now shattered into smithereens. Unmotivated employees don’t believe they can make a difference, so, Godin says, they no longer try. He makes the case that you can bemoan your fate and embrace hopelessness, or you can climb out of the rubble and create a bright, new future.
Wisdom and Shrewdness
Godin’s perform-or-perish rules demand that you become extraordinary, and create something new and innovative. He promises that you can stand out in the crowd by becoming a linchpin, that is, an invaluable, indispensable employee who inspires everyone else.
It turns out that what we need are gifts and connection and humanity – and the artists who create them.Seth Godin
His core contention is that when your colleagues depend on you, your firm will pay you accordingly and you will be the last person dismissed.
To be a linchpin, Godin says, you must be smart, crafty and hard-working. Linchpins, he argues, surpass their peers by combining wisdom with shrewdness. He posits that every interaction with a colleague or client gives you an opportunity to be a linchpin – which means performing at your best because you simply can’t do otherwise.
Comfort Is Dangerous
Godin explains that your lizard brain is wired for survival and fight or flight; it fears risk and sows self-doubt and mistrust. But, he says, creative, optimistic, successful people have to learn to tune out their lizard brain and gain strength from setbacks.
When you’re uncertain about making a change, Godin says, go for it. Of course, it’s not his mortgage at stake, but he encourages you to not succumb to fear. He does warn that as breakthroughs draw near, you will tend to embrace distraction. That tenuous, last-minute backward step keeps most people from committing to self-discipline, which he identifies as the key to productivity.
Godin preaches that you can settle for mediocrity, since change is intimidating. Or you can persevere, ignore your lizard-brain’s self-doubt messages and get out of your own way. And when Godin preaches it, somehow, you believe.
Unlike fear, which alerts you to legitimate threats, Godin explains that you manufacture anxiety. It springs from imaginary worst-case scenarios you create in your head. Godin recommends that instead of trying to escape anxiety, you get used to it, and then its power will dissipate.
Now, the thriving organization consists of well-organized linchpins doing their thing in concert, creating more value than any factory ever could.Seth Godin
Godin holds that generous, committed people recognize the value of supporting others – with their time, money or talent. He laments that altruism gains little admiration and that society emphasizes consolidating power, accumulating possessions and soliciting praise. As a linchpin, Godin suggests, donate your art, efforts, inspiration and energy.
Up to You
Godin’s absorbing business manual – all short, punchy sentences that suggest more dictating than writing but that have an undeniable stickiness – offers advice that extends beyond work to embrace all of your life. The author does have a tendency to ramble, which you may find distracting, and he’s an unabashed endorsement for generous self-regard. But bestseller ego aside, his lively, charismatic text has solid counsel to offer and should appeal to students and anyone seeking a path to an imaginative, satisfying career.