3 Things I Took Away From Linchpin

I recently read Linchpin: How To Make Yourself Indespensible by Seth Godin. It discusses how technology has made creativity more valuable to organizations, how to use your creativity to get more satisfaction out of your work. It is my favorite Godin book that I have read so far and many points apply to EMS work and education. Here are three things I took away from Linchpin:

1. Technology has made creativity is more valuable than ever.

Technology has made the world hypercompetitive. Factory work has become automated and workers have become cheaper. Brick and mortar stores now compete with Amazon. Taxi companies now compete with Uber. Blockbuster is gone and Netflix continues to grow. And I’m sure that anyone reading this knows the threats to the current way EMS is delivered. While this level of competition is threatening to a lot of people, technology has also created opportunities that have never existed in the past. The internet allows us to connect and share work with people across the world from living rooms. It takes creativity to use this technology and make work meaningful for you and for an organization. Godin then discusses how to find yours.

2. Everyone is a genius at something.

Godin describes how creativity produces art, even if it does not involve painting or music or other traditional forms of art. I thought about Steve Whitehead’s Art of EMS column about creative ways to handle common situations in EMS. Unfortunately our creativity is often stifled by school and workplaces that stress fitting in and being unremarkable. There is no map to becoming a linchpin, you must create own, and you can change jobs without changing your position or employer. Many organizations also want replaceable employees more than they want linchpins, and then it is time to work somewhere else.

I hear a lot of people call EMS a dead end job, and I have fallen into this trap from time to time, but think about all the areas for growth. What gets you excited? Is it improving sepsis care, improving teamwork with neighboring agencies, or making continuing education great again? Or do you get excited about a career outside of EMS?  Whatever your role in EMS is, or whatever your career is, find your passion create.

3. Share your art, even if it is not perfect.

Godin calls this shipping. Art has no value unless it is shared, just as good ideas don’t help organizations get better or you to become more valuable unless other people know about them. Godin calls our resistance to sharing our “lizard brain.” Deep in our amygdala is the voice telling us to follow the map and fit in, and triggers fear of failing or being laughed at. Recognizing where this anxiety is coming from is the first step to overcoming it. Godin also warns about perfection, which is impossible to achieve, and stops art from being shared. Once you complete your art it is a gift. Be generous sharing it.


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