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On Becoming A Linchpin

by | Process

We’re very excited about our recent interview with Seth Godin about his book Linchpin [amazon link]. There are few people who consistently bring the kind of energy and insight that Seth routinely delivers as a matter of course. I think that this book is destined to be considered one of his best, and it was a privilege to hear his perspective on it on the podcast.

It’s become popular these days to stir up visions of uniqueness, expression and individualism in all of its forms, but my encouragement to all of us is that the greatest (and most mature) expression of creativity will happen not as the result of eliminating boundaries, but when we are comfortable within them. We each need a container to fill, and as we grow comfortable within these limitations we can begin to stretch beyond them and expand our platform for expression. But first, we must grow comfortable with our skills and develop the right mindset. We must establish our practices (Time, Energy, Stimulus, Focus, Relationships.) And most of all, we must learn to bring ourselves fully to what’s in front of us. If we can’t be content creating in our current role, a change of scenery will not bring us freedom, it will only magnify our dissatisfaction.

Do something unique this week. Don’t be a cover band. Become a linchpin. And do it from wherever you are. Bring yourself to what you’re doing and make a difference.

Todd Henry

Todd Henry

Positioning himself as an “arms dealer for the creative revolution”, Todd Henry teaches leaders and organizations how to establish practices that lead to everyday brilliance. He is the author of five books (The Accidental Creative, Die Empty, Louder Than Words, Herding Tigers, The Motivation Code) which have been translated into more than a dozen languages, and he speaks and consults across dozens of industries on creativity, leadership, and passion for work.

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  1. Nigel

    Nice piece Todd, Seth Godin has in my mind become a must have. However you comment about not eliminating boundaries but being comfortable within is a key. Creativity thrives on boundaries. By the way I was in a cover band when I was at school and never became a rockstar. There’s a lesson there I think.

  2. Todd

    Agree, Nigel. I was in a cover band as well – I used the $$ I made to support the other music I wanted to play. We can do the same with our current job/art. Your occupation doesn’t have to perfectly contain your vocation.

  3. Paul

    Todd you make a great point “Your occupation doesn’t have to perfectly contain your vocation.” In reality your vocation (or calling) is much broader than your occupation. In a perfect world your occupation will be your vocation, but until a person gets to that point they have to understand that excellence where you now are creates the opportunities for you to work in your vocation in the future.

  4. Todd

    Agree that what you do and how you do your work now is expanding your capacity to engage later, and also that you might miss opportunities if you keep your head down and pout because you don’t have what you want.

  5. Rick

    Once you’re comfortable in your given boundaries, there’s an opportunity to not only move past them but to redefine them for others. It’s about setting the creative standard and making everyone around you work to fit your boundaries.

    • Todd Henry

      This is an important point, Rick. It seems like one person deciding to be a Linchpin challenges everyone else to raise their game. That has certainly been my experience within organizations.

      • Bernhard

        Hi Rick and Todd,

        Is it that everyone raises their game or would it be better described as drafting.

        With a linchpin in front everyone is swept along.

        If this is the case is would definitely make the linchpin significantly more valuable because once they leave resistance will build again.

  6. Bernhard

    It was a great interview.

    I walked through the rain at lunch to buy the book and read it through in just 2 days.

    I think it has to be acknowledged that some people just don’t want to the hassle of thinking.

    • Todd Henry

      Wow – that’s dedication. :) I had the same response – read it pretty much straight through. (Well…listened to it as an audiobook.) I agree that the hassle of thought is a barrier. A small amount of effort and dedicated effort can create exponential value, but the difficult part is choosing to get started.

      • Bernhard

        Thanks Todd.

        One interesting thing Seth said that I couldn’t put my finger on was that you have to be on the edge of the curve. If you create exponential thought it might have value but because you are outside the box it requires too much thought on the part of the receiver.

        It is an interesting challenge to break the paradigm and make the big jump. So many leaders promise to and “fail”.

        As the saying goes history repeats and failure to break the paradigm will lead to technology advances enabling history to repeat faster rather than plot a new course.

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