You Can Be Indispensable – Book Review of Linchpin by Seth Godin

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We need you to be you more than ever!

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? is the newest book by author, big thinker, and provocateur Seth Godin. In this book he calls us to recognize that we all have capabilities as artists, to fight our basic instincts to blend in and go with the flow, and to give gifts. I think you can do it and so does Seth. In the summary he describes his intent for the book:

“All I wanted to do in this book was sell you on being the artist you already are. To make a difference. To stand for something. To get the respect and security you deserve.”

This is attainable because we get to choose to do art and share our art as gifts.

Let’s Do Art

My kids are always asking to do art. “Daddy, can we do an art project?” Or “Daddy, can we paint?” They also ask to color, write, sing, and dance. Everyday they practice being artists.

At some point in elementary school or junior high many of us got selected out of art. I can’t recall when I stopped doing art, but fortunately I stayed active in music – primarily because of my ineptitude with the trumpet.

One of the watershed moments of my life was the sixth grade music teacher asking me – the last chair trumpet player – if I would like to try out the tuba because my lip and mouth structure would be better suited for the larger mouth piece. Maybe she thought I might actually have some talent or maybe she thought I would do less damage. I like to think the former. I made the switch and began wheeling home my tuba with a luggage cart-not a good way for a 6th grader to blend in. I don’t think I was ever very good with the tuba but I stuck with it. Eventually my mediocre tuba skills landed me a spot in the¬†University of Wisconsin Marching Band and a trip to the 1994 Rose Bowl. It was an amazing ride. One of the joys of being a tuba player is standing out. A sousaphone is an odd contraption and most of the people that play it are different.

I am an artist

Seth Godin explains that art is anything we can create that has value and meaning to others and can be given as a gift to others. As a band member I was given an amazing gift by a teacher that opened a door for me. I just stepped through it and plowed ahead making a map of what I wanted to accomplish.

Gifts are given to people in different circles of influence. As a paramedic when I am an artist a gift I might give to a patient is choice. “This is what I know about your injury. These are things I can do. Which would you like me to do?” In a moment of pain, fear, and helplessness an opportunity to choose can ease all of those emotions.

A patient that has had opportunities to choose what happens next arrives at the hospital with a different level of engagement and apprehension. The gift impacts the emergency department staff next.

Look for Linchpins

Linchpins are the people that are indispensable. They combine dignity, humanity, and generosity. Do you know some linchpins?

You don’t need to be a sculptor or composer to be a linchpin. Instead you need to be willing to take some risks. In the chain of command don’t look to impress the people above you like the supervisors and owners. Instead focus on giving gifts to the people with and beneath you. Good things, time and time again, happen to good people.

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