In his book Linchpin, Seth Godin talked about what a linchpin is and why it is so important to be a linchpin. The main concept is about mastering a craft and putting all your energy and soul into it that makes you so valuable in an organization and almost indispensable. In the book, he argues that a good company should be filled with linchpins. That is almost like an opposite view of Michael Gerber's take in his book E-Myth Revisited where he said that the business owner should design a very concrete and detailed system for his staff to follow. Both of them can be right, and indeed both theories may even co-exist where you have a well-designed company that is executed by a group of capable linchpins, performing their best within the designed system. And let's assume the two views are indeed totally opposite views, you should test it for yourself and see which extreme works better for you.
In his book, Godin went as far as saying that a linchpin is someone who is indispensable. A linchpin is the Steve Jobs of an organization that there are things that only he or she could do so well.
We are no longer in an era where your next station after graduating from school is to work in a factory, you can only have an average career if you can only do what many other people can do.
A very obvious characteristic that linchpins have is that they put almost all their energy and soul into their work. They really care about mastering the craft they have.
While it's obvious that a successful CEO or business founder is usually a linchpin. Without putting a lot of heart in his or her work, the chance of making the business succeed is very slim, almost none. Meanwhile, you don't need to be the boss to be a linchpin, you can be a bartender and put all your focus into designing and making the best cocktail in the city and still be a linchpin.
In the book, Godin talks about what he calls the lizard brain, the part of the brain that produces fear or resistance that used to be useful for protecting us from things like getting killed by animals many many years ago when human are hunters. But while our lifestyle and technology evolve, our brains don't. So the fear that is produced by the brain while we want to do something challenging isn't all that useful anymore. That fear may still contain some useful information so you don't want to ignore it all together, but to more effectively achieve your goals, you should just let your fear fly by in your mind most of the time and don't let it stop you from doing what you are supposed to do.
Linchpins are basically artists who care about their work so much that they are very committed to their craft, without putting too much focus on what they are going to receive in return for their effort. An artistic can be a painter, a computer programmer, a scientist, an entrepreneur, a bartender or anything.
One of the biggest problems that stop many people from producing work is that they think their work has to be perfect in order to be published or launched. Look around you and you can hear a lot of people saying that they want to build this business and that business. Try ask them why they don't start. Answers like I need to save a certain amount of money to start or I want to gain another few years of related work experience are some of the most typical answers. Imagine what happen when you ask them the same question years later. I think you should already know their answers. The truth is that they will never start or their effort will only last for weeks, if not days. They are either self-claimed-perfectionists or simply lazy people.
If you never do things, or more accurately challenging things, when no one asks you or forces you to do, there is a good chance that you are no linchpin. You only live once, so try do things that actually move you towards your goal, not somebody else's.
In his book, Godin kinds of give his definition of how to be contribute to the world. The answer is a very simple Math formula. Just give more than you take. It is painfully simple yet very true. Think about it. If everyone gives more than takes, the overall output is larger than the overall input and the world moves forward.
One very interesting thing Godin talked about in his book is his comments on the current school system. He commented that the current school system is seriously outdated. School was designed at a time when really rich people need more people to work in their factories in order to produce more money. As a result, school was designed in such a way that following instruction without much creativity is the main thing to be taught.
But having said that, going to school is still the best default option for kids to learn. While putting focus on following instruction is no longer a good strategy for the students. There are still two things that a child can and should try to learn in school that are valuable. The two things are to develop the ability and mindset to solve difficult problems and to practice how to lead a group of people. Although this book is mostly about the importance of mastering a craft and becoming a linchpin, my favorite idea from the book is actually Godin's strong opinion about school. As someone who had both time periods of doing well and struggling in school, I do think that many of the stuff that I have learnt in school are really irrelevant and somewhat useless but getting the opportunity to learn how to approach and solve difficult problems is priceless. Plus, it is a controlled environment where kids can fail and learn.