Linchpin

Are you indispensable?
by Seth Godin
ISBN: 9781591843160

Is this a business book? Marketing? Should it be in the (cringe) self help section? It’s tempting to say all of the above. I wrote a blog post about this book last week, describing the main ideas with this venn diagram:

So the book is about asking yourself tough questions: What the fuck am I doing? Why? What am I not doing? Why not? It’s entertaining, if unsettling reading:

The freedom of the new kind of work (which most of us do, most of the time) is that the tasks are vague and difficult to measure. We can waste an hour surfing the ‘Net because no one knows if surfing the ‘Net is going to help us make progress or connections.

This freedom is great, because it means no one is looking over your shoulder; no one is using a stopwatch on you.

This freedom is a pox, because it’s an opening for the resistance. Freedom like this makes it easy to hide, easy to find excuses, easy to do very little.

I read that and… ouch.

Godin is on a mission to get each reader to believe it’s up to you — your work is up to you, not your employer, not anyone else. An important part of the message is that security isn’t what you think, not any more. Keeping your head down, following the rules, putting in your time; today that behaviour doesn’t come with guarantees. Being emotionally invested in what you are doing, working for a mission not a job description, and shipping — that’s what counts now. That’s your work; that’s art.

Some of these ideas may sound familiar to readers of Dan Pink’s A Whole New Mind — and certainly if you liked that book, you’ll probably find this more pointed take on work today worth your time. Speaking of other books, if Godin’s criticisms of education resonate, I’d recommend Walking on Water by Derrick Jensen. And it seems all thought-provoking nonfiction I read I can connect to Thomas King’s The Truth About Stories, so I’m going to suggest you read that, too.

The stories we tell ourselves, the education we get or fight to get or fight to undo, the willingness to stop drawing a bright line between personal and professional — they are all part of becoming a linchin.

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