Seth Godin’s most recent book, The Icarus Deception continues his departure from authoring breakthrough marketing books by creating an ambitious work on individual achievement and personal greatness.
The title of this book refers to the legend of Icarus and the warning he was given by his father Daedalus not to fly too close to the sun with the wax wings created by his father enabling both of them to escape prison.
The word Deception in the title ties to the second, lessor known, warning Icarus was given. Godin laments that we are only taught the first half, that of not flying too high. Yet, Daedalus also warned his son not to fly to low – too close to the sea – because the water would ruin the lift in his wings.
The deception is that while most of us grow up believing in the dangers of flying too high, Godin reminds us that it is more dangerous to fly too low. The result of that ingrained fear of flying too high is that we settle for low expectations and small dreams and, therefore, guarantee ourselves far less than we are capable of. Godin admonishes each of us to find our art – a term he uses to describe anything we are capable of creating. Your art could be a new way to think about your company’s next product line, a new business venture, or your jazz quintet’s upcoming concert.
The Icarus Deception is an inspiring collection of insights from Seth on thinking differently about our lives, our “art”, and the potential life offers each of us. Here are a few examples:
- “The safety zone has changed but the comfort zone has not. Those places that felt safe – the corner office, the famous college, the secure job – aren’t.”
- “Creating ideas that spread and connecting the disconnected are the two pillars of our new society, and both of them require the posture of the artist.”
- “Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map – these are the works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use a computer, or work with others all day long.”
- “Correct is fine, but it’s better to be interesting.”
- “What’s scarce is trust, connection, and surprise. These are three elements in the work of a successful artist.”
The video interview enables Godin to further illustrate his ideas. I found it particularly interesting to hear him talk about the frequency with which he gives birth to new entrepreneurial ideas and how he evaluates their success or failure.