Linchpin: Are you Indispensable? (Book Review)

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Since last August, I’ve been reading a lot. Like, way (yeah, italicized and underlined) more than I’ve ever read before. Given that I am a recent college grad, I chose to start reading a lot more in areas that interested me to help myself continue to learn and grow intentionally. Consequently, I have read 11 books since August of 2017. Welcome to a new series of blog posts dedicated to reviewing books.

The first I’m going to write about is Linchpin by Seth Godin. The premise is that if you are a linchpin, you hold important things together, specifically at work but applicable in other areas of life. If you are a linchpin, you are indispensable. He starts the book by discussing the current conditions of work. Work used to have more meaning to it. Everyone was an artist until factories were developed. At that point, people became “a cog in a machine,” doing meaningless and replaceable work. Since then, work has become increasingly automated.

“The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.” (p. 27)

How? Emotional labor. That is why working at a fast food restaurant is so replaceable. It doesn’t require emotional labor. You show up, make fries and leave.

“It’s called work because it’s difficult, and emotional labor is the work most of us are best suited to do. It may be exhausting, but it’s valuable.” (p. 63)

His first suggestions involve choosing something that requires emotional labor and is not asymptotic in nature. When something is “asymptotic,” it means that there is only so good you can get at it. Take bowling for instance. The best you can get is 300 points. That’s it. So by choosing something you can always get better at and in which you can grow more, it expands  your ability to become a linchpin.

This is where being an artist comes in. He doesn’t talk about artists in the sense of those who can paint, draw and sculpt. In fact, he has a section specifically labeled Artists Who Can’t Draw. Godin’s argument is that literally anyone can become an artist. The reason is because the word “art” is intrinsically deeper than what is conventionally understood. Because art is anything that require emotional labor.

What do you put your heart into? That is what require emotional labor.

And it doesn’t have to be “artistic” in nature. Recently, a coworker of mine told me that he isn’t a creative individual because he is an engineer. Having read this book, I countered.

“Don’t give me that. You are an engineer which means that you are creative. You have to develop creative ways to solve problems and make designs more efficient and effective!”

In the section titled, Do You Need to Be an Artist to Market Tofu?, Godin thinks you can. He says,

“I think art is the ability to change people with your work, to see things as they are and then create stories, images, and interactions that change the marketplace.” (p. 91)

However, it goes deeper than that. Godin argues that being a linchpin stems from generosity.

“Becoming a linchpin is not an act of selfishness. I see it as an act of generosity, because it gives you a platform for expending emotional labor and giving gifts.” (p. 153)

Essentially, you are an artist and a linchpin when you are giving what you put your heart into as a gift. That gift may come with monetary compensation, but it can still be a gift. He used the beginning of the Linux operating system as an example. When Linus Torvalds developed the system, he gave it as a gift to his friends. But when the popularity spread, he became a linchpin because his gift turned into something that helped people domestically and internationally. When you are generous, you become a linchpin. When you go an extra mile for a customer, you are a linchpin.

I liked this book. What it did for me was it expanded my view of art and creativity. It helped me understand more about the creativity of all individuals and how it isn’t confined to just those who are right-brained. He gives a very detailed perspective of how artistry creates indispensability. It helped me understand more about how I can apply those principles to my own work.

This book will help motivate you to change up things in your workplace, challenge the status quo and grow personally and professionally. You can find it on Amazon here.

-Caleb

3 Simple Ways to Read Your Way to Leadership Everyday

pexels-photo-324129.jpegReading is considered an absolute must in most successful circles. Reading opens you up to new ideas, concepts, and strategies that can help you in your personal, spiritual, and business growth.

At the beginning of this year, I made a goal to read 4500 pages of books. That’s about twenty-two 200-page books in a year. Only twelve pages a day. Growing up, I didn’t read much. I was too busy exploring the pasture field or having supersoaker battles with the cousins. Up until I was 20, I had read probably fewer than ten full-length books. So this goal of 4500 pages was significant. But I decided it was worth it because as Harry Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.”

As of today (August 13th), I am one day ahead of schedule on my reading goal. I have read over 2700 pages and am working through my thirteenth book right now. It’s a habit by now so I want to share with you three ways to get your reading in everyday so that you can work towards being a leader.

First, if you don’t consider yourself a reader or you don’t think you’re fast at reading, reading gets easier the more you read. I sincerely believe I have gotten faster at reading since the beginning of the year. Also, fiction certainly has its place in your reading schedule (great for mental breaks) but ensure that you read mostly non-fiction to spur growth. Books on personal growth (Intentional Living by John Maxwell), business growth (Good to Great by Jim Collins), and spiritual growth (The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn) are great for spurring you to leadership. So are historical biographies.

Alright, let us look at the three steps. These are shockingly simple and will get you to twelve pages daily, too.

1. Read four pages before work in the morning

This isn’t for everyone. Some people barely make it to work on time. But if you can get up just a little earlier, you can fit a few pages in before you get to work. Do you eat breakfast before work? Pound out your four pages while you chow down your cereal. Four pages, that’s it. Or you can do it when you get to the office!

2. Read four pages on your lunch break

I have an hour lunch break so this isn’t hard for me. I know some people (even many at my company) only have a half-hour lunch break. You can still do it! Based on average reading speeds, you should be able to knock this out in about four minutes. Four pages, that’s it.

3. Read four pages before going to bed

Think you can stay up another four minutes before your bedtime or get in bed four minutes early? I know you can.

I know, unbelievable how simple those are. But think for a second, how might this simple habit get you to your goals and dreams? It’ll open up your mind to new perspectives, ideas, knowledge, and processes. Might a book motivate you to actually start a business? Or maybe it will help you solve relational issues at work. It’s almost unimaginable the direction that simply picking up a book can take you.

Let me know in the comments how reading affects you and what your goals are!

Mastering the Simple Starts Here

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Mastering the Simple is where it all starts. If you are here, you probably want to become the expert in your field. What that field is, I don’t know, but in order to get there, we need to master the basics in order to become the leaders others want to follow.

The basics are the things with which we frequently get impatient. Like public speaking. Who wants to become immediately astounding at communicating to a lot of people? Or writing. Or habits and your use of time. Or your health and how it relates to success. These are the basics we need to master in order to become the expert that others will look to for guidance. Now, of course, we’ll never completely master these things, but if you work on them daily, it’ll make a big difference on the direction of your life and will help you become an expert.

That’s what I’m here for. I’m learning right along side you and that’s why I write this blog.

Here’s what you can expect from me in my blog posts:

My actions

I’m going to tell you about what I am actively doing to help myself grow everyday.

My insights

I’m going to tell you about what I’m learning that directly benefits my growth and how it’s applicable for you.

My resources

I’m going to give you tons of resources. These are resources that I’ve found helpful in many realms including personal, business, financial, career and relational growth. They may be books (probably a lot of these), podcasts or other blog posts.

My attention

I want to communicate with you. What are you doing to grow? In what areas do you want to grow the most? When you put effort into communicating with me, I will do the same with you. If you comment, I will respond because I want us to benefit from each other.

This blog is to help you become who you were made to be: an influencer. An influencer is someone who helps change people’s minds and impacts their actions. That’s how you change the world. And you have significant potential to do that. It’s just it takes intentionality. I’m certainly not an expert. I’m learning just like you are. Let’s be intentional about the direction of our lives together!

-Caleb