My friends at Coaching on Call email out regular book summaries. They don’t have their own blog yet, so I thought I’d post a few on here.

Linchpin – Are You Indispensible? by Seth Godin
In this book Godin argues that now it’s more important than ever to become indispensible – to become a linchpin in your organisation. Linchpins are the essential building blocks that make an organisation successful. They are the ones who create the real difference, lead change and generally make things happen.
And it’s not about your job title – linchpins can show up anywhere within an organisation.

Linchpin versus cog
Godin’s premise is that today’s organisational structure is a throwback to the days of factories, with interchangeable parts and interchangeable workers. In this model, if you just do what you’re told then you’re effectively just another cog, indistinguishable from others. What Godin encourages you to ‘become indispensible’ instead, not through what you do so much as through the difference you make.
But how?

Elements of being a linchpin
  1. Make a choice – wake up and stop being a sheep!
  2. Do your work as a gift – not to please your boss but because it makes you happier. Godin calls this ‘art’, which in this context is an act of personal courage, something that one human does that creates change in another.
  3. You need to overcome the resistance of your reptilian brain – the part of you that wants to stay safe by conforming and avoiding anything that might make you stand out. The paradox is that the more you hide, the riskier it actually is.
  4. Complete tasks – a real linchpin doesn’t just have ideas or start projects, they also see them right through to the end and deliver on the details.
Wisdom and passion
Godin identifies two axes that show where the realm of the linchpin lies. The X axis goes from passive to passionate. The Y axis goes from attachment (being inflexibly dedicated to your own world view) to discernment or wisdom. The linchpin inhabits the top right segment of this model – where high passion is matched with high levels of wisdom.

Emotional labour

Seth Godin

Godin powerfully argues that the future of an organisation depends on motivated human beings selflessly contributing unasked-for gifts of emotional labour. By this he means doing the difficult work of bringing your best self to any interaction, even when it would be much easier just to avoid or placate or dissemble. Having the courage to decide to show up and make a difference is a massive differentiator between those who are cogs and those who are linchpins in any organisation.

“We all have ability. The difference is how we use it.
Stevie Wonder