Linchpin Reaction, What is your worth?

linchpin-coverSeth Godin’s book Linchpin introduces a different way of looking at the workplace. A linchpin is an unassuming piece of hardware, it’s not glamorous but it is an essential piece of a machine. Godin suggests successful workers, or more specifically artists are in a way linchpins. They are people that hold their organizations together, without them everything falls apart, the linchpin is an essential individual who is worth holding onto and by contrast all of their peers are expendable, dead weight that can be removed or replaced on a whim. Throughout the book Godin gives us hints as to how we can attain this status of linchpin, and he forces us to question ourselves; Are you indespensable? What is your worth?

For me some of the most interesting points in the book are how he describes our society, how he sets the stage for his theory to work. One of the points that stuck out to me the most is his take on school. Schools teach students just enough to behave; meldable minds go in and processed drones, workers without individuality come out. Students are taught “listen,” “behave,” “don’t question authority.” These statements were alarming for me to hear, but at the same time felt unquestionably true. This pessimistic view on our school system, seemed like something everyone knows but no one really says out loud. Godin continues with what he believes should be taught in school instead: leadership and problem solving. Leadership is a skill, not just a gift given only to charismatic individuals, it can be taught as easily as compliance.

So how do we break out and become linchpins? Surely dedication and hard work at honing a skill will make us invaluable in our fields? Nope. To become an essential asset based purely on skill, you would have to be the absolute best at the skill, more than the best you would have to be in “a league of your own.” Godin uses a famous cricket player to explain how skilled workers are skilled workers, there will always be others and there will always be someone better than you. How much of a bummer is that? While reading a book meant to motivate and inspire, I come to the realization that no matter how hard I work at drawing, and animating, I will never be the best. Godin goes on to say that even a depth of knowledge isn’t enough anymore. What good is an expertise in Flash, when my boss can simply “Google” the answer to any question he has?

Godin doesn’t seek to give us all the answers, there is no clear “Hey this is how to be successful” task you can complete. My take away from the book was clearly not as optimistic as my classmates, but Godin’s words did force me to face that question: What is my worth? Is it how well I can draw? Is it how well I can work in a group? Maybe it’s my skill in relation to my peers’ skill in a particular area? After reading Linchpin, and listening to the critiques and advice of my teachers and friends over the past couple years I think I know the answer. My worth lies in my potential. Maybe some day I’ll solve problems people haven’t predicted, or hone my leadership skills enough to launch the next big successful cartoon, but right now I need to keep my eyes on the prize. Keep working, keep drawing. Godin may be right about me never being the best, but I’m sure as hell going to get close.

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