SALT LAKE CITY — I've never been a big fan of New Year's Resolutions. Not that I'm particularly cranky about it; introspection, goals and objectives are a big part of my daily life. I simply don't llike the idea of making broad pronouncements regarding a resolve to do this or that better during the coming year.
Thinking about that earlier today reminded me of a book I discovered a little over a year ago. I became a big fan of Seth Godin after reading one of his first books, "Permission Marketing." His knack for boiling things down into simple-to-understand concepts has earned a number of his books permanent places on my office bookshelf.
The book I discovered is "Linchpin: Are you Indispensable?" One of the things Godin suggests is that we should all strive to be artists.
"You must become indispensible to thrive in the new economy," he says. "The best ways to do that are to become remarkable, insightful, an artist, someone bearing gifts. To lead. The worst way is to conform and become a cog in a giant system."
As a small business owner it might feel counter-intuitive to empower employees to become artists — become indispensible — but I'm convinced it's the only way to create the products and services customers will recognize as indispensible. Which leads me to the only New Year's Resolution I think really matters:
Regardless of where we fit in the org chart, we need to become indispensible — we need to create and invent.
Godin suggests if we would make this New Year's resolution, we must have the "ability to forge [our] own path, to discover a route from one place to another that hasn't been paved, measured and quantified. So many times we want someone to tell us exactly what to do, and so many times that's exactly the wrong approach."
The world has changed, and the way we lead people or look at our own position needs to change right along with it. We must become indispensible and allow those around us to become indispensible, too.
"There are always people at the bottom of the stairs, doing hard work that's easy to learn," says Godin. "As you travel up the hierarchy, the work gets easier, the pay gets better and the number of people available to do the work gets smaller."
"Lots of people can lift," he argues. "That's not paying off anymore. A few people can sell. Almost no one puts in the work to create or invent."
I suggest that whether you are the CEO or one of his or her employees, you should be looking for ways to create and invent — ways to become indispensible. Whether you accept it or not, that's the only way to have any real job security.
There was a time when I was a big fan of Michael Gerber and his book "The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It." The idea of creating smart systems so business owners don't need to rely on exceptional employees made sense to me at the time; it just doesn't make sense to me any more.Comment on this story
Although the idea of creating intelligent systems to eliminate the need for superior employees might seem like a good idea, it isn't. It is a recipe for boring products and irrelevant services.
The only New Year's resolution that matters gives us a unique opportunity to be the linchpin in our organization and among our colleagues.
"Instead of focusing on complying with management as a long-term strategy for getting more stuff and being more secure, we have a chance to describe a powerful vision for our future and to actually make it happen," says Godin.
I guess I've made my resolution after all.
As a Main Street business evangelist and marketing veteran with more than 25 years in the trenches, Ty Kiisel writes about leading people and small-business issues for Lendio (www.lendio.com).