Today, I want to discuss Seth Godin’s Linchpin and the lessons it can teach individuals about how to become indispensable in their professional and personal lives.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?
Linchpin is a superb book by Seth Godin that will help you understand whether or not you are indispensable at your job. Those who are indispensable are a necessity, less likely to get laid off, and will advance quickly in the ranks.
However, becoming a linchpin in your company requires hard work, compassion, and raw knowledge. Similarly to becoming an individual, becoming a linchpin will demand the best of you. You will need to improve your behaviors, burn off the unnecessary, destructive parts of your character, and develop a desire to learn as much as possible.
Today, I want to cover the idea of being a linchpin, how to achieve such a status, and what possibilities open when you become a linchpin.
How Do You Become Indispensable At Your Job?
Seth Godin does an excellent job of pointing to a falsehood that persists in our society. In the past, it was possible to learn a single skill and remain in an industry for life. However, technology is always changing, industries are continuously innovating, and the economy is constantly in flux. The radical, uncertain times lead to layoffs and downsizings as companies try to survive. While there is a larger conversation about what we should and shouldn’t do about the changing economy, today we are going to focus on what you as an individual can do to thrive in uncertain times.
When you become a linchpin, you’ll be able to survive layoffs because of your job, skillset, and attitudes are too crucial to the survival of your company. When you’re a linchpin, you’ll develop a set of skills that can be easily transferred to other industries if you lose your job or want a new one. Lastly, when you’re a linchpin, you can ask for raises, more benefits, and other perks that meet the increased value you bring to your business.
Being a linchpin is about “being able to invent, connect, create, and make things happen.” By adjusting your mindset, developing your skills, growing your emotional stability, building your willpower, and staying motivated, you can establish the behaviors you need to become a linchpin.
1. Accept That There Are No Maps Or Easy Solutions
Firstly, you need to accept that becoming a linchpin in your company will not be easy. Linchpins are individuals who create new solutions and innovations. Thus, there are no set paths to go on. Your company has its unique problems that are individualized by location, industry, and other factors. Therefore, you need to take stock of what solutions are required to help your company thrive. By creating a plan of action, you’ll be able to help your company and coworkers perform better and solidify yourself as a crucial member of the team.
Does the printer always seem to break? List that. Is your supervisor kind of an ass? List it. Is HR not adequately listening to complaints? List that. Although you can’t solve all problems, having a tally of significant gripes can give you a sense of purpose.
Lastly, solving issues won’t be easy. You’ll be going up against poor behavior, egomaniacs, lack of funding, and much more. However, having to face this challenge is why you need to develop the skills, traits, and influence necessary to become the linchpin your company needs. Once you create better habits, you can leverage your power to help others and improve everything.
2. Develop Your Talent Stack
Every job worth doing requires a set of skills. You no doubt have an impressive collection of skills, but it’s important to make that list larger, more comprehensive, and more substantial. Therefore, you should create a talent stack by listing the skills you have and “stacking” them based on the depth of your knowledge. With this list in hand, you can compare what you know to what you need to know to improve your job performance.
Let’s say you’re a web designer. You’re good at making beautiful layouts. However, by looking at your talent stack, you can see that your HTML and CSS knowledge could use improvement. Now, you can set goals to study your coding and deepen your understanding. With a deeper comprehension of HTML and CSS, you’ll be able to work faster, produce better work, and solidify your importance in the work environment.
How Do You Develop Interconnected Skills?
It’s important to remember that the talents you’re developing should interconnect. For example, if you’re a web designer, learning more about proper plumbing techniques will not aid you in a corporate office. However, your best course of action should be learning web development, and content writing as these topics will supplement your web design knowledge.
The more interconnected your skills are, the more you can lean on them to strengthen your core talents. Let’s say you’re designing a web site and you notice a few misspelled words. With your knowledge of content writing, you can make the corrections yourself, without having to bother anyone. Additionally, if your comprehension is impressive enough, you can provide suggestions to the content writing team, which will show your talent, willingness to work with others, and attention to detail.
The more knowledge you have, the more doors you can open within your professional life.
3. How To Stay Motivated And Give Work Everything You Have
“Success isn’t owned. It’s leased, and rent is due every day.” – J. J. Watts
Many of us (myself included) find themselves working jobs that we’re not passionate about. Bills need to be paid, professional stability is essential, insurance is hard to come by, etc. However, no matter how much we love or hate our jobs, we should always remain motivated to excel.
Motivation is essential to becoming a linchpin. When we’re not motivated, we perform poorly and destroy our chances to thrive in our work environment. Although motivation can be hard to come by, we can find ways to be hyped for our jobs by keeping the following in mind:
Focus On Being As Grateful
You drive in constructs of metal that travel ridiculously fast while being powered by dinosaur juice.
On top of that, most diseases that would have killed your ancestors can be overcome by modern medicine.
Additionally, you have access to clean water, food, and shelter, and so on and so on. Unless you’re going through life-changing horrors, quit complaining and remember the extensive, nearly inexhaustible list of things to be grateful for. The more grateful you are, the less you’re complaining, and the less you’re complaining, the more motivated you can be.
Take Care Of Your Physical Health
Health is important. The more you’re willing to cut sleep, eat crappy food, and refuse to exercise, the more your body will pay you back with decreased energy. However, getting more sleep will give you access to more energy. Eating better foods will help you focus. Exercise will enable you to engage your body and develop pride in your abilities.
By taking care of your body, you will be motivated to become a linchpin.
Keep Your Eye On The Goals You Want To Achieve
Every action you take can push you toward success or away from it. Therefore, you need to set goals and commit to them constantly. The more goals you accomplished, the more inspired you are to keep going. Additionally, you’ll want to understand the “why” behind your goals. Are you trying to become a linchpin to earn more money or master a skill? By understanding your “why” you’ll be able to focus even when you feel unmotivated because your present actions are leading to something better.
It’s easy to become unmotivated if we believe we are spinning our wheels in the mud and are stuck in a daily grind with no end. But if you know that your job will lead you to escape financial instability, then you can continue to march forward when you’re feeling low.
Live A Noble And Magnanimous Life
Every action you take should challenge you to overcome your internal weaknesses. When you set clear, challenging goals that help you grow and improve, then you’ll be more inspired to push yourself forward. If you have low expectations for yourself, then don’t get mad when you have very little motivation for your life and your success.
4. Develop Emotional Control And Extreme Ownership
Emotional control involves respecting your emotions and using them to propel you forward. Did a situation anger you? Good, use that anger to produce a solution. Are you disappointed because you were overlooked for a promotion? Then use that disappointment to inspire you to try harder and create a game plan to earn the next promotion.
Always keep your emotions in check. Never express negative feelings. If you lack control over your feelings, then a simple outburst will destroy all credibility that you’ve spent months or even years building.
Lastly, it’s crucial to practice extreme ownership. You are personally responsible for everything, and you need to own all mistakes. It’s not your boss, your coworkers, or the circumstances: you are the decider of your destiny and the more responsibility you take, the better you will perform.
5. Look For Ways To Serve Your Coworkers
A key proponent of becoming a linchpin is to understand every aspect of your job. Of course, you need to comprehend your responsibilities, as well as the skills needed to excel at those responsibilities. However, you also need to grasp how your job fits into the grander scheme of the company. Lastly, you’ll want to develop a shallow understanding of what other people do and how their labor contributes to the success of the company as well.
Developing this knowledge is not easy, but it is imperative. Additionally, very few people will stand in your way. All coworkers love it when their peers take an interest in the importance of their labor. Therefore, never be afraid to ask others what they do and more importantly, what you can do to make their job easier.
Being a linchpin is about developing skills but also about building relationships by focusing on the needs of others and meeting those needs. For example, if you’re a web designer, you should ask the web development team what you could do differently to make it easier to build the websites you are designing. Not only will the developers appreciate your concern, but they’ll also be more willing to help you in the future.
How To Understand The Needs Of Your Coworkers
Now to be clear: not everyone is directly affected by your job, but you do want to understand how they do their work. This ties back into developing your talent stack – have a grasp of topics related to your job. My favorite technique is to take a team out to lunch, say the SEO team, and ask them what they do. I’ll also ask if they have any documentation, so I can review it and get a better understanding of their job. I’m not aiming to be an expert, only a novice who expresses genuine interest in the passions of others. Such an investment will help me build friendships and mutual respect throughout the company which will solidify my position as a linchpin.
You need to build friendships and respect by being engaging and honest with others. Even if you’re not naturally gregarious, asking people what you can do to make their easier is a practical and direct means of building friendships with others. Always look for opportunities to serve the needs of your coworkers.
Be A Linchpin In And Out Of The Office
I’ve tried to distill Seth Godin’s Linchpin into a few key points that I’ve learned while reading the book. However, I sincerely suggest reading this book, so you can have a better understanding of becoming indispensable.
Lastly, I want to say that these techniques work in a corporate environment, but can work nearly anywhere you’re employed. Becoming a linchpin should be everyone’s goal because the more power, influence, and skills you have, the more capable you are to deal with upsets, layoffs, and other unfortunate realities. It pays to learn new skills, control your emotions, take ownership of your actions, help others, and develop humility.
And all of these skills will help you remain memorable to a potential date, earn the respect of your children, or develop a close friendship with a stranger. Being indispensable in the lives of others is about strengthening yourself, so you can be a rock that people depend on when their lives are good or bad.
So, go forth and develop the character necessary to impress and change the world.
- Of the five steps, which is the hardest for you to implement? Why do you think this is?
- Of the five steps, which is the easiest for you to implement? Why do you think this is?
- How do you believe your life will improve if you became a linchpin? How do you believe your company would change if you became a linchpin?
- How long do you think it’d take you to become a linchpin?
Please remember that it’s important to do the actionables. You’re not on this earth to simply read but to do. To become an individual, you must act more than you consume.
*Image credit to Unsplash. Quotes from Seth Godin’s Linchpin.