Linchin by Seth Godin

I recently came across one of the books of one of the most influential writers of our generation, Seth Godin’s Linchpin. In it, he describes what it takes to become someone that not only can’t be fired, but also can’t be sidelined, because that person is too important. I buy into the idea that some people are great, and that some people can be even greater. There comes a time, when you must recognize the hand of God in your life and good fortunes.

Usually, Godin talks about marketing and sales, products and increasing profits, but this book is about working on you as the person. That also just happens to be one of the missions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: Perfecting the Saints. What Godin talks about in this book is one of the basic beliefs that we all learn as children. We have a purpose. It is higher than us, and God, is an example to us because we can be like Him.

One of my favorite scriptures of all time is in Moses 1:39:

 

For behold, this is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

 

What I love about this scripture is that the Lord is telling us that His whole goal is to help us obtain eternal life. Now, if we were just a bunch of mindless drones, pawns in His cosmic chess game, would He care enough to make it is His personal mission to “bring to pass [our] immortality and eternal life?” I think not!

The primary song “I am a Child of God” teaches us a valuable lesson as well about our heritage, and what we can become. Being a child of God means that we are like Him. We are like our Father in Heaven. That is amazing. We were not born to be something less than a powerful immortal being. In fact, we can become like Him.

 

Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. John 3:2

 

We will one day, if we live worthy, be like our Savior. That is a true blessing from Him. But, it will not be easy, and it will not come to every man. We must take sacrifice, and do certain things to be worthy to be in His presence again.

 

Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—Mosiah 18:9.

 

I’ve only read the first few pages of this book, but the tagline for Linchpin, is “Are you indispensable?” To put that in spiritual terms, we could ask, “Are you like Him?” On page 6 of his book, Godin says,

 

You weren’t born to be a cog in a giant industrial machine. You were trained to become a cog. There’s an alternative available to you. Becoming a linchpin is a stepwise process, a path in which you develop the attributes and make you indispensable. You can train yourself to matter.

 

Godin posits that we are much more than we give ourselves credit for. We can become indispensable to our organization. But it is so much more than that. We can become indispensable to our Heavenly Father, if we do one little thing:

 

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father. Mosiah 3:19

 

We need to put off the natural man. The natural man is summed up pretty well in Godin’s words below.

 

The key piece of leverage was this promise: follow these instructions and you don’t have to think. Do your job and you don’t have to be responsible for decisions. Most of all, you don’t have to bring your genius to work.

 

In every corporation and every country in the world, people are waiting to be told what to do. Sure, many of us pretend that we both to have control and authority and dipping our humanity to work. But given half a chance, we give it up, in a heartbeat. (9)

 

It is easy to do the easy stuff. It is easy to be weak. It is easy to not believe that we can be something more. But we can, and we must. Here’s how Godin describes it:

 

Linchpins are the essential building blocks of tomorrow’s high-value organizations. They don’t bring capital or expensive machinery, nor do they blindly follow instructions merely contribute labor. Linchpins are indispensable, the driving force of our future. (20)

 

And really, what we were taught in primary is that we can become like our Heavenly Father. That what He has, can be ours. That we can have eternal life and immortality, because that is, after all, His mission.

Linchpins are what Godin describes as indispensable. He says, “The only way to get what you’re worth is to stand out, to exert emotional labor, to be seen as indispensable, and to produce interactions that organizations and people care deeply about.”

It is one thing for us to do something that organizations and people care about, but it is another thing entirely to live our lives in such a way that the things we do for others are how we show our devotion to God. When we are devoted to Him, we become indispensable in His plan. That is is the only one that matters.

What other insights do you have?

$100 Startup Followup

When I was serving my mission, there was one constant thing that helped people who didn’t think they believed in Jesus come to believe in Him. When people read scriptures about the love that the Savior has for each of us, they began to understand that they were children of God.

In Matthew 18:12-14 we read:

12 How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?

13 And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.

14 Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

People began to realize that our Savior really did die for us, and He loves us very much. They realize that He sees the best in us and cares deeply for each of us He sees the divine in each of us, and so it easy for Him to love us. Those who have felt His love deeply understand that in that moment, you feel as though you are the only one He is aware of.

He also requests that we strive to emulate Him in all that we do.

27 And know ye that ye shall be judges of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am. 3 Nephi 27:27

He doesn’t just ask us to be like Him at church, but to be the manner of man that He is. He wants us to emulate him in every way possible. That includes church, business, personal life, and everything we do.

In the $100 Startup, Guillebeau talks about how to please your customers. He, without saying it, to treat them as Christ would treat them. He says of a successful entrepreneur, “[Brian Clark] worries about improving customers’ lives through helpful services” (178).

He also quotes Clark as saying,

…you first have to zealously treat every customer as a “best” customer, no matter which ones end up becoming the proverbial “customers for life” (178).

What Clark and Guillebeau are saying is that we have to treat all customers as though they were one of the lost sheep, where we would leave the 99 to care for and find the lost one. We should make sure they understand they are important, regardless of what we may or may not get out of it.

That is a Christlike attitude to have. I wish more people had that attitude.

The Higgs Boson Discovery

On Wednesday, July 4th, Scientists at CERN announced that they have found the Higgs boson, or the God Particle.

If you don’t know much about the Higgs boson, this video may help shed some light (8 minutes long):

The video does a decent job of explaining what the Higgs boson is, but it doesn’t delve into the drama associated with the discovery. Many are saying that the discovery proves that God does not exist (just read the comments on the announcement from the Daily Mail).

Now, before we go any further, let me clarify that I am neither a doctrinal scholar on the level of Bruce R. McConkie, nor am I a physicist or a scientist. I am lowly human, so what I say here is my interpretation of the news I have been following over the last couple years. Still, I don’t totally get everything, nor do I know the answers. If I have made any errors, please feel free to leave me a comment or two, and I’ll do my best to provide an update with any corrections. I am sure there will be plenty.

My friend Brad first mentioned many of the ideas here on Thursday, and when he did, I realized that he was putting into words what I have been thinking, but unable to express. So, here goes…

What the Higgs Boson Means

From the Daily Mail article above:

The Higgs was proposed in 1964 – it is the last missing piece of the Standard Model, the theory that describes the basic building blocks of the universe. The other 11 particles predicted by the model have been found – the Higgs is the last jigsaw piece.

If the particle was shown not to exist, it would have meant tearing up the Standard Model and going back to the drawing board.

Theory has it that as the universe cooled after the Big Bang, an invisible force known as the Higgs field formed.

This field permeates the cosmos and is made up of countless numbers of tiny particles – or Higgs bosons. As other particles pass through it, they pick up mass.

Experts compare the search for the Higgs boson to the discovery of the electron.

The idea of the electron – a subatomic particle – was first floated in 1838, but its presence was not confirmed for another 60 years.

A century on, the electron’s existence underpins modern science. Our understanding of it is critical to the development of technology from television and CDs to radiotherapy for cancer patients.

As I mentioned, some people believe that the existence of the God particle means that God does not exist. They posit that because there is a particle that can make mass, that explains that the big bang theory is true (or that it at least could have happened), and that matter can essentially be created on its own. Or in other words, two particles could have collided and created the earth and everything that is on it, including humans, and our ancestors, which may or may not have been primordial ooze.

What those who do not believe in God contend is that because of this Higgs boson, we can safely assume that it is our creator. But here is the really interesting thing about the whole discovery, they don’t actually know that it is exists. “Rolf Heuer, director-general of Cern, the home of the Large Hadron Collider, told a packed auditorium: ‘As a layman, I would say we have it.’” What that really means is that they “appeared to have found it”. Now, they cannot say with a hundred percent certainty that they have found it, because it is currently unseeable to us. We can’t be sure that it is there, but (using the info from the PHD Comics video embedded above) we can see that there is a tiny difference in one area, which means that it could exist.

Questions of continued funding based on news and buzz aside, the scientists are still not sure that it exists, they are just pretty sure. They are scientifically certain, however, but they just want more time and data to confirm that they are correct. This is an important point in the next section.

The Scientific Method Vs. Faith

In 2007, Richard G. Scott gave a talk called “Truth: The Foundation of Correct Decisions”. He talked about the need for finding what truth is as “…truth is the only meaningful foundation upon which we can make wise decisions” and if we don’t, then there is really no reason to learn truth. He starts the talk by discussing the two ways to find truth.

There are two ways to find truth—both useful, provided we follow the laws upon which they are predicated. The first is the scientific method. It can require analysis of data to confirm a theory or, alternatively, establish a valid principle through experimentation. The scientific method is a valuable way of seeking truth. However, it has two limitations. First, we never can be sure we have identified absolute truth, though we often draw nearer and nearer to it. Second, sometimes, no matter how earnestly we apply the method, we can get the wrong answer.

The best way of finding truth is simply to go to the origin of all truth and ask or respond to inspiration (Jacob 4:8). For success, two ingredients are essential: first, unwavering faith in the source of all truth; second, a willingness to keep God’s commandments to keep open spiritual communication with Him.(emphasis added)

That is pretty self-explanatory. Use the scientific method, or go to the source of all truth. Jacob 4:8 reads:

Behold, great and marvelous are the works of the Lord. How unsearchable are the depths of the mysteries of him; and it is impossible that man should find out all his ways. And no man knoweth of his ways save it be revealed unto him; wherefore, brethren, despise not the revelations of God.

We cannot know what God has done, or all His ways unless He reveals it to us. Luckily, we have prophets and apostles to whom He does reveal many great and important things. He also, as Elder Scott says, allows us to go straight to Him for answers to the questions we seek.

There are many instances of this in the scriptures, one of which is the desire of Alma to understand the resurrection. He says:

Now, I unfold unto you a mystery; nevertheless, there are many mysteries which are kept, that no one knoweth them save God himself. But I show unto you one thing which I have inquired diligently of God that I might know—that is concerning the resurrection. Alma 40:3

Alma shows us that what Elder Scott says is true. If we want to know, we can ask the Father, and He will reveal it to us. Alma was an amazing and holy man, I imagine, and he had to inquire diligently to get the answers he sought. And he still didn’t get everything he wanted to know, but he was happy with what he got. He got what he wanted by asking Heavenly Father if he could know.

It isn’t easy, however, to get the things that we desire. In “Following the Light of Christ into His Presence,” Pontius says:

It sounds simple, and it is simple. However, simplicity does not mean it isn’t easy. It is a lifelong task. It is designed to be so demanding that only the very, very obedient will accomplish it. Do not count yourself out… You are capable of such obedience and can become worthy of all these blessings. Just set your heart on a course of obedience, and you will accomplish all of this much more quickly than you anticipate. As has been stated many times in this book, a commitment to total obedience will blast you off so fast and high, that it will be breathtaking, the height unimaginable, and the promised blessings very near.

The things that God has created are so vast, that it is nearly unfathomable to imagine getting even a small idea of all that He has created:

Beyond [the Milky Way], we’d encounter galaxies 10 billion light years away that the Hubble telescope has photographed. The dizzying enormity of that distance is suggested by noting that light travels 700 million miles an hour. Even from this extraordinary perspective there would not be the slightest evidence of approaching any limit to God the Father’s creations.

[Continuing in the other direction, down to our DNA and atomic levels…] Were we to penetrate further into the mysteries of the most fundamental makeup of creation, we would come to the limit of our current understanding. In the last 70 years much has been learned about the structure of matter. A Standard Model of Fundamental Particles and Interactions has been developed. It is based on experimentation that has established the existence of fundamental particles designated as quarks and others called leptons. This model explains the patterns of nuclear binding and decay of matter, but it does not yet provide a successful explanation for the forces of gravity. Also, some feel that even more powerful tools than those used to acquire our current understanding of matter might reveal additional fundamental particles. So there are yet more of Father in Heaven’s creations to be understood by the scientific method.

This quote could now be updated to include the discovery of the Higgs boson, which does start to explain how gravity and mass work, but even still, there is so much more to learn.

Elder Scott touches on many things that we have learned through revelation by citing scriptures.

How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
And were it possible that man could number the … millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet … thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;

… And naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?

The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, … and … gave I unto man his agency;
And unto thy brethren have I … given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood.
Moses 7:29–33

Through revelation, we have known that there are millions of earths like this one. We still don’t know scientifically that other inhabitable planets exist, but we know through revelation.

Worlds without number have I created; and I also created them for mine own purpose; and by the Son I created them, which is mine Only Begotten. … There are many worlds … , and innumerable are they unto man; but all things are numbered unto me, for they are mine and I know them.
Moses 1: 33, 35

While our inability to count the stars in the sky and the planets that exist limits us, God knows all that he has created and is aware of every single thing he has created.

There are many things that science cannot yet tell us. Some things we will never learn through science, and others, as we have witnessed this week, we are starting to figure out.

It is truly amazing to be living in a time when these discoveries can happen. CERN Lab Spokesman Joe Incandela said, “This is something that may in the end be one of the biggest discoveries or observations of any new phenomena that we’ve had in our field in the last 30 or 40 years.”

Did We Really Learn about Particle Physics in Primary?

No, not really in primary, but there are many things that are revealed in the scriptures that help us understand that, yes, it certainly makes sense that there would be something immeasurable by man that God would use to create the earth, like the Higgs boson:

There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes;
We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter. D&C 131:7–8

When I read this, I think, “Yes! The Higgs boson (and many other particles that we can’t even fathom right now) does exist, and when we are purified after this life, and like God, we will see exactly how it works and what it looks like.”

5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air;

6 But I, the Lord God, spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.

7 And I, the Lord God, formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul, the first flesh upon the earth, the first man also; nevertheless, all things were before created; but spiritually were they created and made according to my word.

8 And I, the Lord God, planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there I put the man whom I had formed.

9 And out of the ground made I, the Lord God, to grow every tree, naturally, that is pleasant to the sight of man; and man could behold it. And it became also a living soul. For it was spiritual in the day that I created it; for it remaineth in the sphere in which I, God, created it, yea, even all things which I prepared for the use of man; and man saw that it was good for food. And I, the Lord God, planted the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and also the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Moses 3:5–9 (emphasis added)

I’d like to point out a few things here.

First, God created all things before they upon the Earth. Somehow, He has the power to do that. They were created spiritually first, and that is important to note. When I think of discerning spiritual matter with purer eyes, I think I may understand that a little better. It also, to me at least, hints that there is way more going on than the Higgs boson. We are just barely scratching the surface with that one. When the Lord God “spake, and there went up a mist from the earth, and watered” it, there must be some way to explain that. I don’t know what that explanation is, but it is more evidence that the Higgs boson is just scratching the surface.

Second, there is a way that God can breathe life into someone. He formed man first, then he breathed life into him. Think about that for a second. He formed all the minute parts of man, and made sure that it all worked, and then gave him “life”, which he didn’t have before God gave it to him. There is another power, particle, or whatever that gives life to inanimate objects. He does say that all things were created spiritually before they were created physically, so we have to understand that a transformation takes place at some point, just as a transformation takes place after our bodies die, and we are resurrected, though we still don’t understand what that process entails. See Alma 40–41 for a deeper understanding of that mystery.

Personally, I am excited to be alive at a time when the full gospel is on the earth, and we have the opportunity to learn whatever we have faith to ask God about. Many things that are happening around us can be explained by the simple truths of the gospel.

The $100 Startup

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, by Chris Guillebeau is about how to start a business for a very small amount of cash. Guillebeau analyzes case studies about many different companies that have started with little cash and provide a substantial income to the owner. A substantial income is defined as at least $50,000. Many of his examples earn much more, but the low limit was set at a level where you can live a good life and provide for a family.

Clearly, the examples of the pioneers are the first place I turned for support of this idea. Many pioneers sold all they possessed to go to Utah where they would establish Zion. They started in Utah with very little, and many were called to go to settle other parts of the western United States, and start all over again. Guillebeau invites the reader to do the same thing: start with little money and “create a new future” for yourself. That is essentially the same call that the early prophets made to the early saints.

We will have to go to work and get the gold out of the mountains to lay down, if we ever walk in streets paved with gold. The angels that now walk in their golden streets, and they have the tree of life within their paradise, had to obtain that gold and put it there. When we have streets paved with gold, we will have placed it there ourselves. When we enjoy a Zion in its beauty and glory, it will be when we have built it. If we enjoy the Zion that we now anticipate, it will be after we redeem and prepare it. If we live in the city of the New Jerusalem, it will be because we lay the foundation and build it. If we do not as individuals complete that work, we shall lay the foundation for our children and our children’s children, as Adam has. If we are to be saved in an ark, as Noah and his family were, it will be because we build it. If the Gospel is preached to the nations, it is because the Elders of Israel … preach the Gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young

Guillebeau and Brigham Young both preach that we have to work, and solve our own problems to be able to create a new future for ourselves.

Guillebeau says that the not-so-secret to success is “passion or skill + usefulness = success” (17). Surely, the early saints had passion, and worked to ensure that everything they touched had usefulness. They learned the same lessons Guillebeau is teaching.

One of my favorite illustrations in the book is of the one-page business plan. There is a napkin, with the following written on it:

  1. Start today.
  2. Deposit money tomorrow. (92)

What Guillebeau is stressing here is the importance of doing something, of getting to work. He doesn’t guarantee that if you start today you will be able to deposit money tomorrow, but he does promise that if you don’t do anything, you won’t succeed. The emphasis is on action. In the LDS faith, we rely on this belief as well. One of the stories that I remember hearing many times from President Hinckley is as follows:

As a new missionary serving in Preston, England, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley was facing a major trial in his life. He was sick when he arrived in the mission field, and he quickly became discouraged because of the opposition to the missionary work. At a time of deep frustration, Elder Hinckley wrote in a letter to his father that he felt he was wasting his time and his father’s money. A little while later, Elder Hinckley received a reply from his dad. It said, “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.” “Sweet Is the Work: Gordon B. Hinckley, 15th President of the Church,” New Era, May 1995, 8

The impassioned plea from President Hinckley and Guillebeau is the same: “Get to work!”

There are many more great spiritual insights in this book, and I would write about them, but I need to get to work, so I can deposit money tomorrow.