I recentlyfinished Seth Godin’s book Linchpin, which suggests that being a ‘linchpin’ is critical in the new world for success – and satisfaction. Seth describes a linchpin as an artist, someone who gives the extra, discretionary effort in getting things done. The point is not for everyone to start picking up paintbrushes and clay and putting on berets (tho’ I think that could be beneficial, too) The point is that, whatever your job or vocation or hobby, you can invest yourself in it in a manner that distinguishes you from other people doing the same thing.
If you stop to think, you can identify the linchpins at your job, in your club, at your place of worship. They may invest extra time in their efforts, but really, the distinguishing feature (per my interpretation of SethG) is a level of energy and focus and LOVE that they show when doing what needs to be done. They put themselves into their effort so much that the leave their own mark, their signature, so to speak, on their work product. One interesting irony of the linchpin/artist concept is that the artist would produce their art for free (so great is their passion and energy for their art), and, at the same time, a wise manager or decision maker would pay a premium for work done by a linchpin (because the impact the linchpin has extends beyond the individual to the entire institution).
One of the great benefits of the internet is that you can find linchpin/artists and follow them. You can learn from their example. And your sense that someone is a linchpin will be validated when you see how much they share – and how much value they provide. These are the people whose work you describe as a labor of love – and for whom you cheer when they succeed.
Here are some that I like:
- Tim Flach. His photos of dogs and horses look like high art, just gorgeous. No poker playing dogs here. I want to know how he got these animals so clean for the photo shoots (and what happens when a horse does its business in studio?) Another amazing photographer: Jasmine Starr, who shoots weddings as if the pics will be displayed in a gallery.
- The people behind Ravelry.com. This is the Emerald City of websites if you are a knitter. I mean WOW. In one central location, you can find out if the yarn you’re looking at will itch, whether there’s a trick to the pattern you’re knitting and how the finished product looks. You can get ideas for gifts and connect with other knitters (the community aspect is mind bogglingly useful). You can keep track of your own projects. Amazing – and it’s free. Other good knitting linchpins: Jared Flood (the photographer/knitter behind Brooklyn Tweed) and Eunny Jang (who is now the Editor of Knits magazine and has discontinued posting in her blog but left behind a treasure of information and tutorials)
- Jules Clancy at Stonesoup. Jules has produced a wonderful blog with mouth-watering pics, promising to get you cooking delicious meals from 5 ingredients and within 10 minutes. The recipes are wholesome and delicious. Also love: 101 Cookbooks and The Kitchen for great recipes, cooking hints and strong community connection.
- J.D. Roth at Get Rich Slowly. You can learn so much about personal finance, frugality, spending money the right way, and money choices from reading his blog. J.D. spends a lot of time researching personal finance – as does his team of staff writers, and, as a result of creating a high quality blog, he has built a community that provides as much value in comments and forums as the original posts.
- Chris Guillebeau at the Art of Non-Conformity. Chris writes quite a bit about travel – his objective is to visit every country in the world, and he has picked up some incredible travel hacks along the way. However, I find his philosophical musings to be more valuable (for me) than his travel tips. Chris spent some time in the Peace Corps, and he has some thoughtful views about HOW (and why) to live an amazing life that could benefit anyone.
There are so many more artists and linchpins out there, my list is really the tip of the iceberg. Who are YOUR linchpins? Does anyone else follow their linchpins (via RSS or otherwise?)
If you know a linchpin/artist, please share in the comments!