[Advice] Listening to the Linchpins

There are all of these stories out there.

A woman works in the billing department of a major company. She is passionate about her work, but she is also knowledgeable about tax laws. She sells vitamin supplements as a side hustle, and owns a piece of rental property. Her kids help her with the work on the rental property and she is able to buy them new Nikes.

A women owned her own business for ten years because she went to business school because her father wanted her to. She was always passionate about working with people. After ten years of operating and owning a business, she put that project aside to work in a company with people.

A man works to feed vulnerable populations at scale on a daily basis. He believes in the work so much, that he is running for political office as well.

A man knows more about food safety than you and I will ever know. He has trouble convincing his family though, that they should listen to him in his knowledge and take his advice. They all get sick following an outdoor picnic at a family reunion where the food was out, starting a cascade of conflict via text messages after the fact.

All of these people are linchpins. They create value and connection with the people around them, in order to grow their worlds. They are taking risks to expand their voices and the only thing that is stopping them from going further is themselves.

Listen to the stories around you.

The stories of the linchpins.

Because the chorus of stories is growing louder and louder and expanding out further and further and touching more and more lives in ways that matter.

[Advice] How We Talk About What Matters…

There’s no other way to sell peace to a conflict comfortable public, than for a peace builder to be champion and a linchpin.

There are two ways to become a champion:

  • Only talk about what matters.
  • Constantly iterate and reiterate your minimal viable product, which in this case turns out to be your words and your perspective. This strategy does not eliminate having principles (they are bedrock and don’t change) it does however eliminate meaningless discussion, advocacy, and negotiation around principles.

By only talking about what matters (and constantly iterating and reiterating on the how) you are opening up yourself to doing the hard, champion level work, of actually negotiation with others of good conscience and moral fiber around positions.

You are also opening yourself up to the ideas and possibilities that knowing other people’s interests (not values (which equate with principles) or positions) but interests: the “what” and the “why” underneath the how.

When you do this intentionally and deliberately over a long enough period of time, drip-by-drip, you begin to persuade people of the value of what you are selling (a perspective, process, service, or product of peace) and begin to move them away from the resistance to it.

This moving, this drip-by-drip, is how you become a peace building linchpin: A person who, if they were gone, we all would have to invent.

A person who broke the mold, even before they walked into the room and convinced you.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
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Book Review: Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? By Seth Godin

We live in interesting times.
The internet, social media, the connection economy have shifted everything. 
Old industrial based models in TV-advertising,newspapers, real estate listings, the record industry, etc, etc, are either dead or dying.

The fact that evidence of them still exists should only be taken as evidence that corpses can still walk around and talk. People, institutions, organizations and governments are attached to the past methods and means that were “tried and true” but are not so much now.

The idea that work (blue collar or white collar is unimportant) is value-less is dead as well. Millenials in a recent study, asserted that they would rather collect unemployment than do work that is unfulfilling. Baby Boomers with power, influence and dollars, hear this and wonder if the sky is falling. Gen-Xers (like myself) hear this and wonder why we didn’t have the guts to make that assertion back in the 90’s.
Our K-12 education system is broken and we’re not sure what can be done to solve what happens at home. 
And the only things that the marketers with big data can come up with is how to effectively “mass-market” more to sell us stuff.
What is a person to do in the midst of all of this noise?
Author, speaker, entrepreneur, consultant and marketer, Seth Godin has a suggestion: Become indispensable. Become a linchpin. 
Godin makes this evolutionary as well as revolutionary, argument in his book, Linchpin: Are You Indispensible?, published in it’s first edition in 2008.
From Linchpin: “If you are deliberately trying to create a future that feels safe, you will willfully ignore the future that is likely.”
Bureaucrats, whiners, fundamentalist zealots, all of the folks in these groups are nostalgic for a future that hasn’t happened yet, Godin argues, and the primary reason that they have difficulty in seeing and comprehending the future is that they are emotionally attached to an outcome and they are resistant to, and fearful of, change.
But, Godin argues, we as individuals,  small business owners, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs  and others who want to either make a living in the “new” economy or make the leap from “hobbyist” to professional, have but one choice:

To be absolutely artistic, absolutely remarkable and absolutely committed to performing the long-term emotional labor required to niche a product, approach and perspective to the smallest group of committed individuals who will honor the provider with trust, credibility and referrals and ultimately, cash for our emotional–and sometimes physical–labor.

As a small business owner, entrepreneur, consultant, teacher, trainer, mediator and peacemaker, I screamed at the book: “IF THIS IS SO GREAT WHY HAVEN’T MORE PEOPLE DONE IT ALREADY!!!”
The answer is simple: The lizard brain. The amygdala. The resistance.
Godin argues that the lizard brain, or the resistance, is  the ancient evolutionary part of the human mind that seeks stasis, calm, and sameness. 
When aroused or threatened, however, it reacts with fear, paranoia, anger, rejection, defensiveness and all the other range of negative human responses to external–and internal–stimuli. 
Caiman Lizards, Not the GEICO Lizard
Thus schools encourage curriculum approaches that standardize children’s thinking.
Thus workplaces encourage human resource departments to standardize approaches to conflicts and friction, to avoid lawsuits and loss of money.
Thus governments make regulations that seek to remove all of the “rough-edges” from society and if they can’t be removed, then may seek to criminalize the rough edge.
Thus culture takes in what used to be outré and formalizes it, standardizes it, and welcomes it into the “mainstream.”
Godin argues that this happens below our radar and is so ingrained in our approach to economics, law, culture, government and other areas, that when disruptive technologies give rise and permission to perform disruptive creativity the results often scare us, astound us and then become dismissed. 
How many times, both personally and professional have you heard, thought or said “I could never do that.” Or, “That’s fine for them, they’re in [blank industry], we’re special and unique over here and that won’t work for us.”
That’s the resistance.
Godin ultimately argues, even as he dedicates his book to the resistance, that fighting the resistance by being indispensable in a job, in a family, in a community, online or off, matters more NOW than at any other time in human history.
Becoming truly indispensable is no longer a privilege of the highly educated, the obscenely wealthy or the incredibly smart/talented. 
Anyone can start a blog, curate a Twitter account, be interesting on Facebook. 
Anyone can build a movement around a cause, build a brand around an idea or build a culture around reaching for the unusual rather than the mundane.
We here at HSCT believe that the future is coming. We are not attached to it, even as build for it. The heart of bringing peace through effective marketing, targeted artistry in conflict engagement and impassioned speaking and advocating, can shape a future where we are all Linchpins and no longer cogs.
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin

Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover; Second Edition edition (January 26, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1591843162
ISBN-13: 978-1591843160

-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA 
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
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