Generous is the new cool.
I once naively hoped the cool kids club would self-destruct after junior high. Like many I was on the receiving end of a Mean Girls experience there. But that’s a different post.
Of course the cool kids club doesn’t end in junior high, or high school, or even after college. In fact, the social media revolution has given birth to an entirely new breed of club member. Know how to code a site? Most Popular! SEO savvy? Most Likely to Succeed!
Don’t get me wrong – I think it’s great that smart, talented people are finally being recognized for their abilities. What I have a problem with is when this recognition causes a disproportionate sense of self importance.
Linchpin vs. Lizard Brain
Seth Godin’s game-changing book Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? describes linchpins as “people [who] invent, lead (regardless of title), connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos. … They love their work, pour their best selves into it, and turn each day into a kind of art.”
Archenemy to the linchpin is the lizard brain who, writes Godin, “cares what everyone else thinks, because status in the tribe is essential to its survival.”
I recently attended a social media event where a person I’d met — and had several conversations with previously — was one of 18 presenters. I passed this person on my way out and said something profound like, “Great job!”
I was a bit taken aback when the person looked right at me, sneered, and then smugly said, “Whatever.”
Whatever? Sure, the presentation was fine, but it wasn’t even among the top 10 talks that night. ‘Whatever’ is a classic lizard brain response because “status in the tribe is essential to its survival.”
Now contrast this with a true linchpin I know, Jeff Moriarty. Jeff is one of the most generous, helpful, thoughtful people I’ve met, and one of the busiest. He is smart, funny and kind. He is not afraid to try new things. He is not afraid to risk ridicule. When you compliment him on his success, he praises others for their role in helping him achieve it. He would never say “whatever” just to be rude. (At least I don’t think he would.)
So I’m grateful to Jeff — and linchpins everywhere — who are proving that the junior high curse can be broken. And if generosity defines the new cool kids club, please sign me up.