The Linchpin

This poem is part of Project OpenBook, a community-built children’s book.


This is my wagon. And this is its wheel.
And holding it on was a small bit of steel.

They call it a linchpin. What a great title
For something so small but remarkably vital.

Until this moment I never really knew,
About these linchpins and the job that they do.

Coming down the hill on my daily route.
One of my linchpins came loose and fell out.

Off came the wheel and my load went askew.
And that is the reason I’m covered in doo.

We all play a role. We all have a stake.
What role will you play, what choice will you make?

The wagon cart is strong but dumb
It does its job and just stays mum.

The wheels are smooth and round and sleek.
But by themselves they’re pretty weak.

But the linchpin helps them work as a crew.
Without it we’d be in a pile of doo.

We each have a choice about what role to play.
Will you be our linchpin and show us the way?

Phil HausslerWritten by Phil Haussler.
Illustrated by Brad Sneed.
YuckOK...Pretty goodGreatAmazing (25 votes, average: 4.04)
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Project OpenBook is a community-built children’s book. Your rating determines what goes into the book. All proceeds go to funding a young girl’s education.

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Not enough? Here’s a ‘normal’ review.

Linchpin will scare you. It will make you squirm. And it will make you think. Really, really think.

The basic premise is this: society, schooling and and human evolution have combined forces try to make you fearful, faceless and mediocre. Godin calls the forces that hold us back The Resistance. The Resistance wants you to be average. The Resistance wants you to show up, punch the clock and not complain. Those that can overcome The Resistance — to throw away fear, to make their own rules, to draw their own map, to make things happen, to become LINCHPINS — now have the tools and the leverage to do more than ever before. To do big things and make lasting change. And here’s the kicker: only by overcoming The Resistance and becoming a Linchpin can we achieve real fulfillment and happiness.

The book has implications for you as a parent, you as an employee, you as a business owner, and you as a fulfilled individual.

As a parent: if you have kids, it will make you think about how to raise your kids in the new reality.  Godin argues that our schools and institutions — and our own biological makeup — are geared for the industrial society.  The old factory-filled world required faceless cogs in the grand industrial machine.  So our school system got good at producing cogs.  Our schools reward obedience, not creativity.  Testing, not learning.  Conformity, not originality.  Linchpin will make you think about how to raise children that can fight The Resistance and thrive in the new reality.

As an employee: Linchpin has a message of hope for employees.  It says: You have a choice.  You can be a faceless cog in the industrial machine.  You can be fearful and obedient and wait for instructions from your boss.  But if you do, realize that you’re dispensible.  The new world — the post-industrial world — doesn’t reward faceless cogs.You can be replaced by any other faceless cog.  OR, the alternative is to become a Linchpin.  You can bring your whole self to work.  You can make your own rules, draw your own map, make things happen.  No excuses.  Don’t say “My boss won’t allow that.  My job doesn’t work that way.”  That’s The Resistance talking.  If your boss or job won’t allow you to become a Linchpin, don’t you deserve better?

As a business owner: Linchpin will make you think about what kind of organization you’re building.  Are you recruiting Linchpins or Cogs?  Are you building a culture that allows — and expects — each individual to become a Linchpin?  If the answer to that question is no, Linchpin will make you think about whether your business can survive in the new reality.  It also asks tough questions about how you’re operating personally.  Is The Resistance controlling you? Are you allowing distraction to prevent you from ‘shipping’ (building a product or releasing a book or…)? Are you letting fear and conformity prevent you from truly new and bold innovation?

As you: The message of Linchpin is that there’s more out there for you.  It says don’t give the majority of your lives to a job that expects you be a faceless, replaceable cog.  Don’t look back on your life with regret that fear and The Resistance stood between you and your purpose.  You’re better than that.  You were put here to do more than that.  Your purpose is deeper than that.

Of all his books, Linchpin is Godin’s bravest effort yet.  He goes beyond marketing and calls us to be the best version of ourselves.  It’s worth a read.  You can buy it here.

Or you can get a copy free. I’m giving away my marked-up copy (notes and all) to one lucky Tweeter who tweets the following message: “I want your copy of Linchpin @marblespark: http://bit.ly/Linchpoem”

Catch and Release

In tribute to Seth Godin’s belief in spreading ideas, I decided to give away my copy (notes and all).  As an experiment, I thought it would be cool to ask the recipient to pass it along when they’re done — to create a “Catch and Release” copy of the book.  So I added a note to the front of the book asking readers to pass the book along and “Check In” here.  It will be fun to see where the book goes.

First stop: Little Rock, Arkansas for @indiehotelier

If you’re checking in, please add your name, location and remarks to the comments below.  And thanks for passing it along!

  • Love the poem Phil, you've done a brilliant translation of Linchpin in both reviews!

  • Thank you Anne!

  • I just love, love, love this poem and the artwork is awesome!

  • Thanks Paul! It's no feeeesh, but we do our best! Honored to have you drop by.

  • Biking Nana

    I don't tweet, but I want your copy of Linchpin." Love, J.

  • OK Mom! I put your name on a ping pong ball and threw it into our huge bingo drum!

    Good idea, entries for my copy of Linchpin are welcome in the comments here too!

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