Posted by: Phil | April 1, 2010

Are you a linchpin?

Cover of Linchpin

What is a linchpin? The definition of that is a small piece of hardware that keeps a wheel from falling off its axle. Applied to people, a linchpin is someone who is indispensable in a company or in the lives of people. That is the question the author Seth Godin asks, are you one of them, indispensable?

I loved this book, especially after reading it three times. I still discover new ideas. The book is like a mirror, often revealing to us some disturbing truths about the work that we do and how it affects our lives. More importantly, Seth is asking us to see that the old model of work is crumbling, and a new one is slowly but surely taking its place.

It is hard to summarize such a book, but I can say that the author tries to show that to be a linchpin is really to be an artist, in more ways than one. Being an artist is not reserved only for painters,  sculptors or dancers. If you find a way to smooth over bumps at work, and you make it look easy, then you are an artist.

Linchpins are rare; they are inclined to stick their necks out when nobody else will. They know that they can fail, but that will not stop them. Seth Godin argues that anybody can be a linchpin, and that the only thing that we need is the desire to be one. Because after all, we all have had the experience of solving a problem that no one would touch, or being the go-to person in a company or an event. He is saying we should be more of that, and less of the little soldier that soldiers on, obeying orders and regulations. His message can be resumed as follows; stop being a cog in the machine. It’s game over for the  model that we have followed for the past 200 years since the Industrial Revolution.

The book is brilliant, full of examples that illustrate his thesis, and hits hard those who have followed the old model. Time to change…if you want to. Because you can!



  1. Well you know what happens to indispensable people; yep they are filling our graveyards. I am a linchpin not because I am indispensable, but rather because I do speak out when wrong is wrong. In the workforce, that means often being labeled as borderline insubordination. Or, if you are a woman (of Spanish decent even worse!) your hormones are acting out! At least that’s what your supervisor will say. To that I say humbug! Speak out, be true to yourself, but remember, no one is indispensable in this world…

    • No, I disagree. Some people might think that they are indispensable in life or at work, but they are not. Linchpins are a precious commodity. Very few people are willing to stick they necks out. Having a big mouth is not always a sign of a linchpin…Yes, often management will label a linchpin as insubordinate; since they want to upset the status quo, no wonder! You are far too cynical for my taste this morning Ren.

  2. I’m trying to think if anyone in my area of work is a linchpin and I can think maybe of one or two people, but honestly the world keeps turning when you are gone. I do not think I’m a linchpin and I don’t think anyone close to me is.

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