(#167) Standout or Get Left Behind

What can you do this week to become the go-to person, the linchpin—
the difference maker—in the lives of others, and by so doing,
make a huge difference in your life?

linchpinLast week I read (devoured) Seth Godin’s provocative book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?   The basic gist: If you report to work each day and do everything you can to fit in, blend in, and play it safe—it’s not very safe.  In fact, Godin argues, the cogs of society make themselves more expendable each day they choose to do nothing than what is expected.   We’ve been brainwashed by “a system where people are terrified to step outside of their lives.” So they do everything to play it safe and “meet spec.” The problem is that when we “meet spec” there is no way to be remarkable and standout. The best we can hope for is to be standardized–just like everyone else. And when we are standardized, why would an organization need to keep us around?

Image: sheelamohan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: sheelamohan/

Over the course of the last four decades I (like many others) have had to endure drones, cogs and automatons of the work world. You know, these are the people who have never found a rule they do not like. The more boxes they can check off on a clipboard, the happier they are.  They lack curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking skills. Nothing is gray. Everything is black or white (can never be both in their minds.)  They are doing everything by the book. Corporate-speak is all important. Faceless and emotionless people remaining “on point” at all costs.  Hardly, if ever, an individual thought.  Meeting spec., playing it safe, and making themselves dispensable.

Image: digitalart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: digitalart/

Godin believes the rules have changed in the new economy. The cogs are the ones who are easily replaced.  He urges that you (me) develop skills that make us indispensable.  True, everyone can be replaced. The indispensable ones, though, become tougher to replicate.  They have chosen to stand out for the good of those they serve. They know how to establish and maintain meaningful relationships. Their work becomes art! They have passion and they make things happen for themselves and the people they work with each day.

Godin asks us to imagine a school with the following sign hanging over the front door:

 We train factory workers of tomorrow.
Our graduates are very good at following instructions.
And we teach the power of consumption as an aid for social approval.
(p. 42)

Oh, my!  Are we doing that?  Am I doing that?  Good time for a gut check.

Video recommendation for the week:

The people who break out and look at work as an opportunity (instead of an obligation) are the linchpins of the world.  That is what we need to mentor and encourage, says Godin. And we all have gifts that will help us rise above the “play-it-safe” setting.  There are seven contributions (gifts) that all linchpins make to their surroundings.  As you read this list, who comes to your mind? Do YOU come to your mind?  The linchpins of our world:

  • Provide a unique experience/connection between your organization and those you serve
  • Deliver their service/product with creativity
  • Manage, juggle and effectively pull together complex projects
  • Lead the people they serve
  • Inspire their colleagues
  • Have a deep knowledge/understanding about their areas
  • Possess a unique talent.   (p. 218)

Many times what holds us back is little more than our own unsubstantiated fears.  Godin refers to it as the Lizard Brain that constantly throws obstacles in our way. We believe the lizard and then “mortgage an entire irreplaceable day of our life for a few bucks.”

What can you do this week in your life to become the go-to person, the linchpin, the difference maker, in the lives of others, and by so doing, making a huge difference in your life?

 “Every day is a new chance to choose.” Ishita Gupta.

 Choose well. Live well. Be well—and H.T.R.B. as needed!

Tomorrow, August 5, I will offer my next webinar. The topic: “It Takes More than Academics to Succeed in College.”   Take advantage of this complementary offering.  Click here to register now for the webinar.  Or go to my website for registration information. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog post. Please share it (and any of the archived posts on this site) with friends and colleagues. You also can follow me on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you get a chance, visit my Facebook page and join in–or start–a conversation (www.facebook.com/stevepiscitelli).  If you have suggestions for future posts, leave a comment. Make it a wonderful week!

 ©2013. Steve Piscitelli

About stevepiscitelli

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This entry was posted in Being REMARKABLE, Choice, customer service, Goals, influence, Integrity, leadership, Making a Difference, Passion, Personal growth, Personal Wellbeing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to (#167) Standout or Get Left Behind

  1. Mimi Folk says:

    Thanks for the important reminder to know oneself and to BE oneself!! (After, in the last many years, having come close to being fired more than once for daring to question authority, you are right on!). Being true to beliefs and values, and being willing to think outside the box, IS what counts.


  2. Nick J says:

    Excellent post professor P! This reminds me of a piece of advice I heard a year ago that goes something along the lines of “be the hero of your own story.” It means to live your life as if everything you do is being written into your book/movie of your life. Live in a way that if you were watching your story play out, you would be watching a story in which the main character (you!) acts in a way that is admirable and in a way where everything you do is striving towards the ending you want (your dream/goal). So in any situation in life you can ask yourself, “is this how the hero of my story would act?” Take responsible risks, give it your all, and avoid ordinary. Anybody can be ordinary but excellence requires and unordinary amount of effort and action. Sometimes, like you always say, you might have to hit the reset button. But it is never too late to chase a dream and I have certainly learned that over the past 2 years. I really enjoyed the post, professor!


    • Nick, thanks for the shout out. You are correct–we are the heroes of our own stories. I think too many people wait to be defined by others (what does my boss think? my teacher? my [you fill in the blank]?) I believe it is important to understand how we package and present ourselves. Take in the feedback–but maintain control over who we are. From what you have displayed–you are the hero of your story. You are creating a great legacy. Read the blog post I will put up on Sunday. It will take a look at how we brand ourselves. Stay in touch…you are an inspiration, Nick!


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