A linchpin is an unassuming piece of hardware, something you can buy very cheaply at the local hardware store. It’s not glamourous, but it’s essential. It holds the wheel onto the wagon, the thinger onto the the widget.
His advice: in a world of cold, commercial systems, you must make transactions personal and human. Emotional labor sets you apart. You can’t compete simply on your ability to complete the task. Interact and connect with people, and give gifts by by going beyond what your job requires.
If you are insecure, the obvious response to my call to become a linchpin is, “I am not good enough at anything to be indispensable.” The typical indoctrinated response is that great work and great art and remarkable output are the domain of someone else. You think that your job is to do the work that needs doing, anonymously.
Of course, this isn’t true, but it’s what you’ve been taught to believe.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet with thousands of remarkable linchpins. It appears to me that the only way they differ from a mediocre rule-follower is that they never bought into this self-limiting line of thought. That’s it.
Perhaps they had a great teacher who lit a lamp for them. Perhaps a parent or a friend pushed them to refuse to settle. Regardless, the distinction between cogs and linchpins is largely one of attitude, not learning.
“Wait! Are you Saying that I have to stop following instructions and start being an artist? Someone who dreams up new ideas and makes them real?
Someone who finds new ways to intereact, new pathways to deliver emotion, new ways to connect? Someone who acts like a human, not a cog? Me?”