Book ReviewsYouth strength and conditioning

Linchpin – Book Review

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Title: Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future
Author: Seth Godin
Topic: Self help, Business, Psychology
Appropriate for: All coaches, but particularly those trying to make a place in the world!
Overall rating: 5/5
I think all coaches aspiring to coach fulltime/professionally should give it a read, as it will undoubtedly help you on your quest to make a living doing what you love!

The primary premise of the book is that the laws of work and employment have changed. Whilst our current method of “education” was created to support the demand for factory workers during the industrial revolution, times have changed and the education system hasn’t adapted to suit the changed work landscape. The premise of working for one company for life, in return for that company looking after you is not longer true. Many of today’s jobs didn’t exist when the workers were being schooled. In fact, what schools should be teaching now is the ability to solve problems and lead. In a world where everyone’s CV looks similar (think degree, masters, UKSCA, internships) what is to differentiate you from anyone else vying for the same job? The answer lies in becoming a “linchpin”.

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With so much technology with rapid feedback, are we making ourselves redundant unless we upskill?

Essentially, a linchpin is indispensable. The world of professional sport is looking for indispensable coaches. If you are easily replaceable, then what is to stop the search for someone to do the labour cheaper? In the current world of automation and “online coaching”, you aren’t necessarily unique. Instead you want to create so much value that you become invaluable and stand out. What creates a linchpin is the combination of passion + art.
The gift of what you give (your art) is as much for the giver as for the recipient, not to get leverage. I think this is particularly true of sport coaching – after all, why would so many people coach voluntarily in their local club or community? The words “It’s not my job” aren’t part of the vocabulary of linchpins. This isn’t to say you get trampled on, but you desire to serve over and above. To give, without expecting in return. To engage in what Seth Godin describes in “emotional labour” that is rewarding but exhausting: making “art”, producing generosity and exposing creativity. “Art” can refer to great human interaction, good resources, great service… it doesn’t just mean physical art as we know it. This describes so many great coaches I know, who are real artists at what they do.
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Seth Godin then describes that “Real Artists Ship” – that is to say, they produce, not just daydreaming or talking about ideas. But what stops us producing our art? He terms it “the resistance”, that is our amygdala or “lizard brain” that wants us safe from judgement, safe from the risks of both failure and success. He encourages the reader to lean in to the fear and go out of your way to embrace discomfort and make your own map. Linchpins don’t wait for someone else to tell them what to do or where to go, they take initiative and draw the map.
I actually think that to succeed in S&C long term you pretty much have to be a linchpin, as you need to be innovating, going above and beyond the call of duty for your art, whether it’s producing a great GPS report, an engaging nutrition workshop, fun warm ups, great working relationships with players or easy to use excel sheets. If you want to get a fulltime role, you need to stand above so many others!
So the questions are then:

  • What art are you sitting on?
  • What’s stopping you from “shipping”?
  • Are you acting in spite of your fears?
  • How can you become a linchpin, going over and above the call of duty?
  • How can you become an indispensable asset, rather than just showing up and doing the required work?

You can find the book here:Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future
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