Can everyone become a linchpin?

Surely not everyone

A newspaper asked me the following, which practically set my hair on fire:

What inherent traits would make it easier for someone to becoming a linchpin? Surely not everyone can be a linchpin?

Why not? How dare anyone say that some people aren’t somehow qualified to bring emotional labor to their work, somehow aren’t genetically or culturally endowed with the seeds or instincts or desires to invent new techniques or ideas, or aren’t chosen to connect with other human beings in a way that changes them for the better?

Perhaps some people will insist that there are jobs where no humanity is possible. But you don’t have to work for them.

Some people want to tell you that your DNA isn’t right, or you’re not from the right family or neighborhood. I think that’s wrongheaded.

Bob Marley grew up in one of the poorest villages in the world. Sir Richard Branson has dyslexia that makes it difficult for him to read. Hugh Masakela grew up in Witbank, a coal mining town. It’s not just musicians and entrepreneurs, of course. The Internet makes it possible for a programmer in Russia or a commentator in South Africa to have an impact on a large group of people as well.

We’ve been culturally brainwashed to believe that the factory approach (average products for average people, compliance, focus on speed and cost) is the one and only way. It’s not.

We make a difference to other people when we give gifts to them, when we bring emotional labor to the table and do work that matters. It’s hard for me to imagine that this is only available to a few. Yes, the cards are unfairly stacked against too many people. Yes, there’s too many barriers and not enough support. But no, your ability to create and contribute isn’t determined at birth. It’s a choice.

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