7 Steps to Become a Linchpin [Video]

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Seth Godin, Author of Linchpin:  Are You Indispensable? (Photo via MrsHomeSchoolBookClub)

A linchpin is someone who is so important to making things happen that an employer or client just can’t live without them.  (Well they could though they might never feel the same again.)

In Seth Godin’s words, “a linchpin is the essential element, the person who holds part of the operation together. Without the linchpin, the thing falls apart.”

The most important thing you can do to keep your job (whether in a company or as an entrepreneur) is to be invaluable.  Most people were (and are still being) taught that being a cog in the machine (the so-called team player at its most basic) is what you needed to get the job or get ahead.  These days however businesses and customers are loyal only to those who are “indispensable“.

This arrangement, Godin explains, leverages talent and creativity more than it rewards obedience. (Seth Godin)

You want to be the the one that everyone turns to for advice, help, expertise or whatever your passionate subject happens to be.  Here are 7 steps you can take to become a linchpin.


1.  Live Without a Map

Well it’s more like “don’t let others give you a map to follow.”  You’ll still need to plan.  You just don’t want to do what everyone else is doing – you don’t want to be just another cog in the machine.


If you can think, act, live and do without a map – guided by your own compass and guide others than you’re more valuable than someone who just follows orders (that’s why I said it’s not enough to be a “simple” team player).  It’s about scarcity too – how many people in the world have been trained to think like that?

The question is whether you can break your old brainwashing and learn to live without a map.  Can you learn to live with uncertainty?

People who need a map, are going to get paid less and less and work harder and harder every day, because there’s plenty of those people, and I can find them with a click of the mouse.  (Seth Godin)

2.  Do The Things You’re Truly Passionate About

Have you created a mind map of your desires, passions and marketable skills?  Do you passionately believe in your work, the company you’re in or the job you’re doing?  If you are you will go 1000 miles to make things happen.  If you aren’t then you won’t last long and you won’t do very much that matters (to you or anyone else).

3.  Make Everything You Do Exceptional

Here’s what Seth Godin had to say about James Cameron the famous movie maker who is known for Aliens, Titanic, Avatar and Terminator 2:  Judgement Day:

… James Cameron has figured out [that] he doesn’t need to dig ditches for a living. He doesn’t need to be stronger than other people for a living.  He doesn’t need to put on more hours as a telemarketer to make a living. All he needs to do is fight the resistance [inside his mind]. That every time someone says, “Well why don’t we just make this part a little more average. If he can just stand up and say no I’m going to make it exceptionaleven if it’s not better, just exceptional — that’s what he does for a living. That’s his job.  (Seth Godin)

Never let anyone else (your boss, your client) tell you that you should just make it average.  If that’s the case then it’s time to leave them in the dust.  Live up to your own standards of ‘the exceptional’ and find the people who are open minded enough to see that, appreciate that and want that.


Repeat:  It just has to be exceptional, it doesn’t always have to be better.

4.  Finish the Important Things to You Even if You’re Uncomfortable

The lizard brain in your head – the voice that tells you to play it safe (run), give in to your fears and self doubts has literally taken over society.  I remember a friend of mine back in university who once said that humans are just Naked Apes.  Well it seems that most people have given into the lizard brain and naked ape syndrome.


If you’re going to be a linchpin you challenge yourself to be more than that – every minute of every hour of every day.  You have to force yourself to finish things or “ship it” as Seth would say even when it feels uncomfortable, like you’re going to die or be embarrassed as hell or you think it may never work (remember uncertainty and maps?).  You hit the Send button and you keep moving.

5.  Fight Your Fear of Failure

Linchpins have to turn the big smoky mass called fear into a tiny little black rock that they can smash.  You have to name it, know it and then cut it down to size – repeat for all of your fears.


If you need help, join the mailing list and you’ll get a copy of “9 Steps on How to Beat Your Fear of Failure” that’s 1 of 14 work sheets in the upcoming ebook How to Find Your Job in 3 Powerful Ways: A Shinobi Guide to Job Searching.  It’ll outline a step by step method to see, grab and then defeat each of your fears.

6.  Beat Your Self Doubts and Insecurities into Dust

Linchpins have to fight the lizard brain as I said before and that means beating those self doubts and insecurities that we all have.  You have to destroy the resistance to action or as I would say, “Cut the mountain down to size so you step over a speed bump.”  Recognize your “I can’t do ____”, “I’m no good at _____” and “If I do ____ people will laugh at me.”  Then look hard at them and realize how silly those thoughts are.


If you need help, join the mailing list to get a copy of “How to Turn Your Insecurity into Smoke” that’s 1 of 14 work sheets in the upcoming ebook How to Find Your Job in 3 Powerful Ways: A Shinobi Guide to Job Searching.  It’ll outline a step by step method (just like the fear worksheet) to make you destroy those self-doubts.

7.  Never Let Others Take You Down

Never let anyone else tell you that something will never work.  Never let other people put you down, devalue you, cheapen you or feed your self doubts.  Never let them smash your confidence.


If they say, “It’ll never work.”  Then what do you say?

Have you ever tried?

You may fail 9 times out of 10 however that 1 time that you do succeed will be the most amazing thing you’ve ever done – it could be the clincher.  The only way to reach the amazing is to do it all 10 times.  I harp practice over and over again in many of my posts for a reason.  And think about all the great inventors who had to screw up thousands of times to get the 1 golden egg:  Thomas Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci and Edward Graham Bell to name a few.

A linchpin has to stand their ground and question, experiment and then re-focus.

You’ve now learned 7 powerful steps to turning yourself into a linchpin.  So what are you going to do:

  • To be exceptional and not be average?
  • To fight your fears of failure?
  • To fight your self-doubts?
  • To find what you’re passionate about?
  • To live without a road map?

Leave your thoughts below in the comments so that others know they’re not alone in becoming a linchpin.


PS.  You’ll learn that even your job search needs you to become exceptional (and a linchpin).  The upcoming ebook on How to Find Your Job in 3 Powerful Ways: A Shinobi Guide to Job Searching has over 369 tips, tricks and tactics to help you get a jump on doing that (in fact it’d apply to the rest of your life too).

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  1. Elaine Spitz says

    Sunny, this is a terrific “in a nutshell” review of Godin’s “Linchpin” tenets. Thanks for the reminder – I read the book a while ago – I will now go and make my own map and stand up to the lizard!

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