Seth Godin's new book, Linchpin, is about doing what matters: Finding something within yourself that ignites... wait a sec, no: something that you ignite.
Unlike Seth's other books, this one feels very personal. It challenges each of us to create, invent and lead. It reminds us that we have options—now more than ever. It tells us to make art: not necessarily with the obvious tools of clay or paint or paper (or cake frosting or boiled wool or whatever your artistic medium of choice).
Rather, "art" is what we're doing when we do our best work. In essence, Linchpin urges us to matter, and to make a difference, in whatever we choose to do.
It's one thing to say I liked the book, but it's another to say that it stayed with me. After I finished it, I would find myself turning over in my mind something I read in it, like you might turn an interesting beach stone around in your hand.
It would happen unexpectedly, too: when I was in the carpool lane picking up my kids or sitting at a traffic light—and there it was. I can't think of higher praise than that, really: It mattered to me.
So what, exactly, is a "linchpin"? Seth Godin is well known for coining a trove of words in the marketer's lexis—most famously: permission marketing, ideaviruses, purple cows, sneezers, and meatball sundae. And now, of course, "linchpin."
The book title is only one of several key words or phrases (or new definitions for words we already know) that are worth remembering from the book.
These definitions are not just words alone, of course: Together they underscore some of the major themes of the book: Don’t be a cog in the wheel of any sort of factory. Lead your own destiny. Fight against your inner voice of resistance to create work that matters. Make sure you “ship” what you create (don’t just create it). And in doing so, become indispensable.
TGIF Laborer (noun): Compliant, replaceable employees able to follow simple instructions, but who can't wait for the 5 o'clock whistle to blow. Also known as note takers, literalists, manual readers, and map followers.
The PERL (noun): The Percentage of Easily Replaced Laborers. A measure of how easily an organization can replace most of its workers.
Factory (noun): An organization or business where employees do what they are told in a prescribed manner and (in exchange) earn a paycheck. Not necessarily only a place where goods are made: the Department of Motor Vehicles is a factory.
Artist (noun): Someone with a genius for finding an original approach, a fresh answer or connection, or a new way of getting things done. "An artist…uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to change the status quo. And an artist takes it personally."*
Mediocreman (noun): A kind of anti-superhero with a self-limiting view of his or her capabilities.
Emotional Labor (noun): Work that you put your heart and soul into.
Asymptotic (adjective): Refers to an asymptote (a line that gets increasingly closer to perfection, but never quite touches it). It's difficult to truly innovate in an asymptotic environment, because improvements are measured in such tiny procedures. In other words, it's difficult to wow.
Ship (verb): The act of delivering or producing the thing that makes you indispensible. In other words, setting a goal and meeting its deadline (rather than make excuses for why you missed it, which often revolve around insisting that the thing be perfect).
Resistance (noun): The inner part of us all that is fearful, lazy or easily distracted. "It will invent stories, illnesses, emergencies, and distractions in order to keep the genius bottled up. The resistance is afraid."
Lizard brain (noun): The source of resistance: The reason we are fearful or too lazy or too easily distracted to create our art. (Its enemy is the "daemon," below.)
Daemon (noun): A Greek term that refers to an inner genius or muse: A source of great ideas, groundbreaking insights, generosity, and connection. (Its enemy is the "lizard brain.")
The Internet (noun): An awesome place, but also "crack cocaine" for the resistance because it's always on, it's fun, and it can soak up vats of otherwise productive time. (A particularly addictive form: Twitter.)
Gift (noun): What an artist creates and gives freely, earning respect and attention. Gifts are a "signal to the world that we have plenty more to share."
Prajna (noun): The ability to view things with discernment, wisdom, and a broader view. Those who posses it are assets to an organization.
The Candyland Decree (Proper noun): Based on the children's board game Candyland; a kind of early training kids receive in following a specific and unwavering agenda.
"If only" (conjunction): A way to effectively eliminate excuses or roadblocks to doing your best work. ("I could find the path to be more brave if only….")
Linchpin (noun): Someone key to an organization; the indispensable person who is difficult to live without.
Most importantly, a linchpin is an original thinker who leads with his or her heart and soul. Are you one?
- Possibly my favorite two sentences in the entire book.
BIO: Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs.com (www.marketingprofs.com), which provides strategic and tactical marketing know-how. She also blogs at her acclaimed personal web log (www.annhandley.com]. Follow her on Twitter @marketingprofs (twitter.com/marketingprofs)
Photo credit: Horia Varlan [http://www.flickr.com/photos/horiavarlan]