The Icarus Deception
In Seth Godin’s most inspiring book yet, he challenges readers to find the courage to treat their work as a form of art. Everyone knows that Icarus’s father made him wings and told him not to fly too close to the sun. But he ignored that warning and plunged to his doom. We’ve retold this myth, and many others like it, to generations of kids. All these stories have the same lesson: Play it safe. Obey your parents. Listen to the experts. It was the perfect propaganda for the industrial economy. What boss wouldn’t want employees to believe that obedience and conformity are the keys to success? But there’s another part of the myth that those in power hope you’ll forget. Icarus was also warned not to fly too low, because sea water would ruin the lift in his wings. Flying too low is even more dangerous than flying too high, because it feels deceptively safe. The safety zone has moved. The propaganda has been exposed, and the old promises have been broken: Conformity no longer leads to comfort. But the good news is that creativity is scarce, and more valuable than ever. So is choosing to do something unpredictable and brave: make art. Being an artist isn’t a genetic disposition or a specific talent. It’s an attitude we can all adopt. It’s a hunger to seize new ground, make connections, and work without a map. If you do those things you’re an artist, no matter what it says on your business card. Whether you’re a teacher, engineer, doctor, middle manager, or customer service rep, you can fly higher by bringing your best self to work. You can care about what you’re doing today and how you can improve tomorrow. Godin shows us how it’s possible, and convinces us why it’s essential.