Like most of you, I’ve gone through the public school system and learned English, Math, Social Studies, Science, P.E. and conformity. That in itself wasn’t a bad thing during the industrial age when industry required many workers that demonstrated conformity and careful following of instructions. The work was monotonous, but people were able to earn a comfortable living mass-producing widgets. Thus the educational system was tailored to produce pre-programmed ‘cogs’ ready to follow a set of instructions input by management.
“Sit down, shut up and conform with the rules.”
As is with most large systems burdened by bureaucracy, our educational system has been slow to evolve and has fallen behind in understanding what is currently in demand by society. Unfortunately, the idea of conformity and ‘going with the flow’ has become a de facto rule in making a living for oneself. Parents encourage us to stay in school, graduate and find a stable, well paying job. Peers calculate your success depending on the size your employer.
Seth Godin challenges this idea in his new book ‘Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?‘ Are you only doing the things your boss tells you, following instructions and keeping below the radar? Then you’re easy to replace, just as a cog in a machine. In Linchpin, Godin instead challenges you to become indispensable, be generous and create ‘art’. The ‘art’ Godin refers to is ‘something that creates change in another’ and can be applied to anything from products to services to that sincere smile that brightens your day from the cashier at the local coffee shop. This form of ‘art’ requires creativity and boldness to take your work from the mundane to the edge of the box. (Outside of the box may not produce the results you’re looking for).
Godin also sheds light on ‘resistance’ created by the genes passed down by our ancestors. The same fear that helped our ancestors survive has gotten a grip on our best ideas and hampered us with fear. But this fear keeps us from taking risks, standing out, or doing remarkable things because it feels safe to stay put. Staying put means you do ordinary work, and that increases your risk of being replaced.
If you’ve ever felt that you have more to offer the world, something better, something worth talking about, get the inspiration you need by getting a hold of Linchpin. This book is for anyone doing indispensable work, wants to do indispensable work and people who need to do indispensable work. Go, get out there and become a Linchpin.
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