Linchpin Book Review: The Pursuit of Indispensable

Seth Godin’s latest book, Linchpin, gets right to the heart of the matter with this question: Are You Indispensable?

The essence is this: Within each of us is a brilliant and generous artist, but fear and social conditioning stops us from realizing it. Linchpin challenges us to identify and overcome this resistance by pursuing the virtue of being indispensable.

Rather than serving as yet another guidebook on how-to-succeed-in-life-and-business, Linchpin constantly strives to empathize. Seth’s quirky, potent style serves as the catalyst that urges us to rethink our daily slouching and self-distractions.

I found myself relieved to know that I’m not the only one who’s deeply frustrated by:

  • so many people who settle for ‘mediocre obedience’: cheap, ordinary and easy to replicate
  • 4-Hour Work Week business models that “scale fast, without regard for finding, nurturing and retaining linchpin talent”
  • products, programs and attitudes made merely for money, without consideration to human connectivity

And encouraged to hear:

  • that “the market for truly exceptional is better than ever”
  • “If the rules are the only thing between me and becoming indispensable, I don’t need the rules.”
  • that the easier something is to quantify, the less it’s worth.

Linchpin delivers some much-needed optimism in world of con games, factory mentality and turning cheetahs into house pets. It also serves an excellent treatise on art. Seth says the definition of art is a personal gift that changes the recipient.

Art isn’t just about paintings or museums. It’s anything that’s creative, passionate, personal and takes emotional labor. Art has no value unless it ships, which means at some point your art must collide with the outside world. Herein lies the challenge.

The reason we have so much trouble creating and shipping art is because we have something Seth calls the “lizard brain.” This lizard brain is essentially our survival mechanism, wanting nothing more than for us to be safe, average and predictable.

The problem we encounter when trying to connect with our inner artist  is that we rely too much on being told what to do and how to do it. This self-defeating behavior describes why so many people feel stuck and miserable in their lives and work, constantly pursuing what appears to be the quick and easy answer to their problems, the magic formulas, the so-called roadmaps to success. (“There is no map,” notes Seth.)

Linchpins recognize the lizard and work tirelessly to bring about meaningful change through gifting their art to others. This line from the book sums it up:

It’s far more useful to be able to answer the kind of question for which using Google won’t help.

Linchpin is awesome and Seth Godin is an ally. Never before have I read a book that so brazenly yet gracefully articulates the artistic and intellectual shortcomings of our time while working earnestly to help us overcome them.

And it couldn’t have been published at a better time.

My advice to you: buy Linchpin now and read it immediately — under $20 and worth every penny (affiliate link). You should be able to pick it up and understand it at any stage of your personal evolution.