Seth Godin, Linchpin

I just finished reading Seth Godin’s latest opus with the “calling all weasels” title Linchpin – Are You Indispensable?

Life is short, so I usually steer clear of so-called business books, but I’d heard much about Godin and watched some of his videos and was intrigued.  So I held my nose and started reading.  It turns out, this was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time.  It’s a book about karma (though that word doesn’t appear).  And it may just turn weasels into artists, which is what Godin is entreating his readers to become.  He’s not suggesting that we drag Excel into the trash and use only Photoshop, but rather that we approach our work as art.  Do what you love, or failing that, love what you do.

So what is art?  According to Godin, art is something that challenges the status quo, that demonstrates insight.  It is doing not just labor, but emotional labor, at work.  It is being generous with your domain knowledge.  It is connecting with and touching people.  All of this sounds like an obvious good idea, at least for us sentimentalists.  But it’s difficult, and as Godin points out, we’re hard-wired not to be artists, but to be compliant and play it safe.  Near the end of the book are a couple of Venn diagrams that show these intersections:

dignity & generosity & humanity = Indispensable

conformity & compliance & obedience = Surrender

Told you it was a book about karma.  And as a bonus, there’s a great bibliography, too, listing lots of interesting books and grouped by topics such as “Gifts and Art”, “Sociology and Economics”, “Education”, “Programming and Productivity”, “Science and the Brain”, “Wisdom”.

For a business book, Linchpin is pretty damn great.  Recommended.

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