13 March 2010

Godin's Linchpin

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
Just finished reading Seth Godin's Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?.  Quick read, some great points, and it got me thinking more intentionally about how I approach my professional life.

Seth's main point is every action needs to center around how you can become indispensable.  The linchpin, if you will.  A seemingly small piece that is critical to the daily operation of the greater machine.

Here are my key takeaways:
  1. Shoot for 5 minutes of brilliance.  

    No one is brilliant every moment of the day.  It's impossible, yet we all strive to do so.  We as humans need to focus on our 5 minutes of brilliance each day that justifies our existence on this planet.

    I tend to be a bit of a perfectionist, so I get down on myself when I don't live up to my own absurdly high expectations.  The goal here is not to settle on a lesser goal, but have more realistic expectations on how quickly you can achieve it and in what segments.  As mom always used to say, "Peel one potato at a time."

  2. The lizard brain.

    This is the term Seth coined for the portion of our brains that controls our survival instincts.  It's the same 'brain' we share with lizards, and he argues that its existence in everyday life inhibits our ability to succeed.  It's the voice you hear in the back of your head that says things like "you can't do this" or "you're not smart enough."  It's the part of you that desires to stay comfortable, to stick with what you know, to survive.

    I realized I am extremely guilty of listening to the lizard brain too many times in my life.  I hear it when I run.  I hear it when I work.  I hear it in social settings with people I don't know.

  3. Successful businesses are composed of linchpins.
    Organizations that consistently hire complacency kill any momentum they might have been gaining.  While it might be 'safe' to hire just another cog (he compares the modern-day workplace to an extension of the early assembly line - easily replaceable workers doing a single specialized task), ultimately you're going to slowly kill your company.  We need new thinkers, innovators, risk takers.

    I've been doing better in this area, but I need to focus my efforts further and define a niche area.  In tough times, good businesses hang on to the linchpins because they're critical to success.  Linchpins think with a forward perspective, and are prepared for and excited by the unknown.
I'd definitely pick up the book if you're looking for something to read.  Godin could have done a slightly better job with the length (some parts were pretty repetitive), but I understand his rationale (what's the key to learning? repetition, repetition, repetition).

Are you a linchpin?  Do you listen to your lizard brain too much?  

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