August 12, 2010


Just finished Seth Godin's Linchpin. I think it's a really a good book about the changing nature of our work.

Seth encourages everyone to be a linchpin, which he defines as “the person who is indispensable.” Someone who can't easily be replaced because they bring skills to the table that are hard to come by. He goes on to expound on the qualities necessary to be a linchpin and why those qualities are valuable in our society.

One of those qualities is the concept of “emotional labor”. Seth argues that the things that are truly valued in today's society aren't goods or commodities. People today place the highest value on things that can't be easily quantified or reproduced. The soothing manner of a pediatrician or the resourcefulness of a secretary. Things that don't necessarily come through on a resume, but can make a huge difference when someone is determining who to hire or what business to patronize.

Here is a quote regarding emotional labor that I thought was insightful: “Why is there writer's block but no chemical engineering block? Artistry, it seems, always leads to anguish.”

His point is that things like writing, or speaking, or being courteous when you've had 2hrs of sleep require a great deal of emotional effort (especially when you're asked to do them on a consistent basis) that most other activities don't. The people who are willing to exert this “emotional labor” become vital to their employers, customers and communities. These people consistently overcome “the resistance” that keeps most of us from expressing the gifts that we know are inside of us.

Nobody benefits when we simply follow a manual and do our jobs like robots. Being a linchpin doesn't mean that you have to best in the world at your job. It means that you bring qualities (possibly something as simple as the way you interact with people) that most people do not. Whatever our “thing” is, we've gotta make sure we're willing to do the emotional labor that's necessary to make us (virtually) indispensable.

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LaNeshe said...

That is totally how I try to be in my various places of work, whether professional or personal. My task now is to not be frustrated by the fact that for many things I am the only person who can do them, and therefore must do them without help, and when needed, even if not at a convenient time.

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