The book Linchpin, by Seth Godin, challenges you to become indispensable, share your art with the world, and do your best work. According to Seth, “…the best future available to us is a future where you contribute your true self and your best work.”
It’s a book I’ve been recommending for years to caregivers struggling to put their best selves into their work. I especially like how Seth describes art and artists in the book:
- “An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.”
- “Art is a personal gift that changes the recipient. The medium doesn’t matter. The intent does.”
- “Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.”
- “Art is the product of emotional labor. If it’s easy and risk free, it’s unlikely that it’s art.”
I also love how he challenges people to face their fears and share their best work, their art, with the world:
- “We need you to stand up and be remarkable. Be human. Contribute. Interact. Take the risk that you might make someone upset with your initiative, innovation, and insight—it turns out that you’ll probably delight them instead.”
- “When you give something away, you benefit more than the recipient does. The act of being generous makes you rich beyond measure, and as the goods or services spread through the community, everyone benefits.”
- “You weren’t born to be a cog in the giant industrial machine. You were trained to become a cog. There’s an alternative available to you. Becoming a linchpin is a stepwise process, a path in which you develop the attributes that make you indispensable. You can train yourself to matter. The first step is the most difficult, the step where you acknowledge that this is a skill, and like all skills, you can (and will) get better at it. Every day, if you focus on the gifts, art, and connections that characterize the linchpin, you’ll become a little more indispensable.”
This is an important book for early learning professionals. It’s easy to feel like a cog instead of an artist in this profession. I’ve experienced it personally and, in my writing and speaking about caregiver stress and burnout, I’ve heard hundreds of stories of people feeling lost, or undervalued, or worn down by the work.
Linchpin is passionately written, fun to read, and full of ideas that’ll help you be better at your art. You might also enjoy Seth’s blog.