Monday, October 04, 2010

Becoming The Linchpin

The economy is probably going to get worse before it gets better. You know that. The belt will have to continue to tighten. If you still have a job, you're going to have to find ways to increase the odds that you can keep that job. And if you get laid off, you'll want to cultivate skills and attitudes that increase the odds you get hired ASAP.

What if you can't find a job? You still got bills to pay. You must find a way to get compensated for the work you can do. Which means you need to keep getting really good at the work you can do. And get more creative. You may have to solve your own problems. You may have to become the kind of person who is indispensable.

Here's some thoughts along those lines from Seth Godin:

If you seek out critics, bureaucrats, gatekeepers, form-fillers, and by-the-book bosses when you're looking for feedback, should you be surprised that you end up doing the things that please them?
They have the attitude that there is an endless line of cogs just like you, and you better fit in, bow down, and do what you're told, or they'll just go to the next person in line.
Without your consent, they can't hold on to the status quo, can't make you miserable, can't maintain their hold on power. It's up to you. You can spend your time on stage pleasing the heckler in the back, or you can devote it to the audience that came to hear you perform. (Linchpin, 60)

Your restaurant has four waiters, and tough times require you to lay someone off.
Three of the waiters work hard. The other one is good, but is also a master at solving problems. He can placate an angry customer, finesse the balky computer system, and mollify the chef when he's had too much to drink.
Any idea who has the most secure job?
Troubleshooting is never part of a job description, because if you could describe the steps needed to shoot trouble, there wouldn't be trouble in the first place, right?
Troubleshooting is an art, and it's a gift from the troubleshooter to the person in trouble. The troubleshooter steps in when everyone else has given up, puts himself on the line, and donates the energy and the risk to the cause. (Linchpin, 60)

Emotional labor is available to all of us, but is rarely exploited as a competitive advantage. We spend our time and energy trying to perfect our craft, but we don't focus on the skills and interactions that will allow us to stand out and become indispensable to our organization. It's called work because it's difficult, and emotional labor is the work most of us are best suited to do. It may be exhausting, but it's valuable. (Linchpin, 63)

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