MBR: Linchpin by Seth Godin

Monday, March 19, 2012
I decided I was going to read a book a week for a year, here's a quick review of this weeks book.  You can see the ongoing list here. 

Basic Info

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Why I bought it

I like the way Seth Godin thinks.  I first saw Godin talk about Leadership on TED.  The talk not only prompted me Tribes (an earlier Godin book) but also subsequently write about it here.  His ideas on leadership and standing out generally appeal to the artist (Godin's term) in me.  All in all, I figured it would be a good purchase.

How it connects to the public sector

The book has many disparaging remarks about bureaucrats, namely that they are:

[C]ertainly not attached to the outcome of events, and [they] definitely won't be exerting any additional effort.  The bureaucrat is a passionless rules follower, indifferent to external events and gliding through the day. 
It even goes on to use a visual that likens bureaucracies to zombies (eats brains, turns friends into monsters, and you must escape it).

But it also dangles hope - that life doesn't need to be like that - but restricts that hope to the concious choice of individuals.  He essentially splits people into two camps, those who reinforce the status quo, and those who challenge it; then puts the decision of where to stand squarely on the reader.

What I got out of reading it

To be honest I was a bit underwhelmed with the first half of the book.  It felt repetitive and slow moving.  It's here where Godin builds a case for people to challenge the status quo, meaning that there is little in it for those of us who have already made that decision (or perhaps, more aptly, bought in to his point of view).

That said, I was far more satisfied with the latter half of the book.  It spoke more directly to what I think I was hoping to get out of reading it, namely, the qualities that make people indispensable, things to aspire to, and traits to work on.  

To be honest, if you are like me, you probably don't need to be convinced that your work (Godin calls it art) is important, or that investing yourself emotionally into your work ultimately pays dividends.  But if are someone who does need that kick in the arse, unless someone hits you over the head with  Linchpin, you are probably too busy keeping your head down to notice that this book is right there waiting for you.  Meaning that while the book could lead to greater change, it is probably more likely that it adds more echo in the already cacophonous the chamber.

Originally published by Nick Charney at cpsrenewal.ca
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