Marketing author Seth Godin has just released his twelfth book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, in which he describes his theory that taking risks, being different, and generally being “indispensable” is now a requirement for getting ahead.
Our new work culture rewards uniqueness and innovation. Godin says that everyone should be pushing themselves to consider ideas and learn about things that are not familiar — “confronting these edges in our culture is bound to create sparks, and sparks turn into fires.”
In Linchpin you seem to be suggesting that people succeed at work by doing things that don’t appear on their job descriptions.
Exactly. And Spike Lee never got told that what he got paid to do was make movies that would make people profoundly uncomfortable and then transform them. Bach never got told that he was supposed to compose music of a certain style, because you can’t tell people what you want if you’re asking them to do something that you don’t know you need.
And that is the magic part of the equation of what’s just occurred. It’s a giant transformation that happened just in the last five or 10 years. As we have an economy that used to make money by leveraging a factory, a system, a process, to an economy now where the people who win are the ones who do stuff we didn’t expect and we didn’t ask for.
How do we balance life and this new way to work you talk about in Linchpin?
Seth: There are two things that I’ve done. The first thing is, I think you should seek out to do work that you like to do, which seems pretty obvious but is missed by a lot of people. If you’re going to put your heart and soul into it, it had better be something you’re proud of…
And the second thing, I think, that at least works for me is, if you’re really serious about balance, it’s not an ad‑hoc, back‑and‑forth decision. All of us go to sleep every night. All of us eat three meals a day. Make the decision to be home for dinner every night, make the decision to not turn on the Internet from seven to 11 every night, or whatever it is that makes you happy, and then don’t break the rules. There are lots of other rules you don’t break. If you’re serious about this balance thing, then be serious about it.
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