Nearly everybody has heard the story of Icarus: the man who flew too high. He and his father were trapped on an island with no hope of escape, until they fashioned wings for themselves and flew away. Before they took off, Icarus' father warned him that if he flew too high, the wax which held the wings together would melt and he would fall to his death. If he flew too low, the beasts of the sea would catch him and devour him. But Icarus didn't listen, and being fascinated by the Sun, he flew too close to it, falling out of the sky and dying among the remnants of his broken wings.
Today, the story of Icarus is often used as a cautionary tale in business: if you fly too high, you will eventually fall. If you play it safe, everything will be fine. What the people spreading this propaganda forget to mention is that Icarus was also warned not to fly too low, and that being 'under the radar' could be even worse than being in the stratosphere. This is what Seth Godin calls The Icarus Deception.
Unlike flying too high, Godin argues, flying too low feels safe, and that false sense of safety actually makes it more dangerous. He contends that the safety zone has moved, and that while it may not feel that way at first, it is actually better to do something bold and daring, risking flying too high, than to spend your life conforming to expectations, building up a false sense of security as you fly ever lower.
Seth Godin, former head of direct marketing for Yahoo!, is a world-renowned author, having penned fifteen international best-sellers such as Poke the Box and the revolutionary Purple Cow, which changed how the world thinks about marketing. His work has been translated into over 35 languages. In addition to writing books and changing the world, Godin is the founder of Squidoo, author of the most widely read marketing blog in the world, and a popular lecturer and guest speaker.
Everyone knows Icarus’ father made him wings
and told him not to fly too close to the sun; he ignored the warning and
plunged to his doom. The lesson: Play it safe. 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 we tend to forget Icarus was also warned
not to fly too low, because seawater would ruin the lift in his wings. Flying
too low is even more dangerous than flying too high, because it feels
The safety zone has moved. 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.
Godin shows us how it’s possible and convinces
us why it’s essential.
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