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The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

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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.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2012

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About the author

Seth Godin

230 books5,829 followers
Seth Godin is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change.

Godin is author of ten books that have been bestsellers around the world, and he is also a renowned speaker. He was recently chosen as one of 21 Speakers for the Next Century by Successful Meetings and is consistently rated among the very best speakers by the audiences he addresses.

Seth was founder and CEO of Yoyodyne, the industry's leading interactive direct marketing company, which Yahoo! acquired in late 1998.

He holds an MBA from Stanford, and was called "the Ultimate Entrepreneur for the Information Age" by Business Week.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 661 reviews
Profile Image for J.F. Penn.
Author 45 books2,139 followers
December 31, 2012
I was part of Seth's Kickstarter so I bought this early, and reading is has totally fired me up to commit to creating and sharing my own art.

There were many parts of the book that resonated with me, but in combination with Steven Pressfield's Turning Pro, the message is really to pick yourself, and persist at the practice of creation.
“Creating art is a habit, one that we practice daily or hourly until we get good at it … Art isn’t about the rush of victory that comes from being picked. Nor does it involve compliance. Art in the post-industrial age is a lifelong habit, a stepwise process that incrementally allows us to create more art.”

This book is useful for writers, but I would also urge parents to read it in order to understand the world your children are growing up in.The industrial world is disappearing. The old world of standardized exams, tick-box education and guaranteed jobs won’t be there for much longer, and people need to be creative to survive the future. But more than that, life’s too short to spend it doing something that isn’t rewarding. So aim to thrive and not just survive.

I spent 13 years as an IT consultant, a miserable cubicle worker, rewarding myself with sugar and alcohol in order to make it through each day. In September 2011, I finally broke out of that old life, and I couldn’t be happier. Sure, I have less money now, fewer trappings of (so-called) worldly success, but I am making my art, and this feels like real life.

I know some of you are struggling around the same issues, so as you move into 2013, I would recommend reading “The Icarus Deception” for some inspiration.
Profile Image for Jason Riemens.
64 reviews5 followers
March 15, 2013
This was my first Seth Godin book and I was very excited to listen to it. But, it was painful torture and I did not enjoy it in the slightest. I found its content and direction to not only be off-putting but potentially dangerous. While I am certainly one who likes to do things differently and am eccentric at times, Seth's tautological reference to "art" in this book almost drove me mad. And at a minimum, it was maddening. I felt that there was a lack of creativity in Seth not using a different term than "art," which seemed self-serving in nature or convenient. What this book felt like was a popular band's new "hit" that would never have made the charts if it was a new band's first song.

This book is rated highly and from what I have read - it is due to Seth's established popularity. I envision a whole bunch of people reading or listening to this book and quitting their career to take up origami or forming that rock band - because it is "art" - all the while while their family suffers in financial ruin. I do not recommend this book to anyone. Jason Riemens.
Profile Image for Perry.
632 reviews515 followers
November 8, 2017
Gimme a B! Gimme an S!

Here's a question you must answer before buying this book if your boss hasn't required you to do so!

Have you ever read a book by Seth Godin?

The man has made a business empire out of turning common maxims and everyday common sense into several lightweight books full of inspirational RAH RAH that sensually arouses Human Resource managers in mid- to large-size firms into putting out....
....big money for in-house seminars and supplying employees with every new book he has published.

And yet, this fact makes the books fairly humorous considering the people who take them seriously.

As for Seth Godin, well, more power to him. It's not like he's duping the uneducated or downtrodden.
Profile Image for Todd Sattersten.
19 reviews9 followers
January 25, 2013
Seth writes books for his tribe. If you are not in the tribe, you might say that Linchpin or Poke The Box covered the same territory and you would be right. If you are in the tribe, you'll gladly pick up this next title (or spend $120 on Kickstarter to get a whole box of books).

In this new book, Seth pushes much harder on how many stories and cultural myths reinforce playing it safe. "Don't fall too close to the sun." Don't step outside the norm. Don't challenge the system. He makes a convincing case for how the messaging keeps us from doing great things.

For me, every one of Seth's book has a passage that touches me and Icarus Deception was no different. Toward the end of the book, Seth shifts the perspective and tell the reader what an artist needs if you are an important part of their life. My wife started school this fall and is studying Chinese Medicine. I read this section to her aloud and started to cry as I told her this was the template for how I planned to support her art over the next four years.

If you like the kinds of books Seth writes, I imagine you will find something just as special in this book.
Profile Image for Laura Noggle.
676 reviews387 followers
June 3, 2019
My 8th Seth Godin book, and I like him more with each book!

Excellent stuff here, reminded me of Steven Pressfield's Do the Work and The War of Art. Very encouraging for getting over yourself and putting your work "out there."

“It’s what we wrestle with every single day. The intersection of comfort, danger, and safety. The balancing act between vulnerability and shame. The opportunity (or the risk) to do art. The willingness to take responsibility for caring enough to make a difference and to have a point of view.”

Lots of highlights in this one, would revisit for a pick-me-up. Quick and impactful.
Profile Image for Ray Edwards.
39 reviews6 followers
January 16, 2013
At first I was irritated by this book. I am accustomed to being Seth's cheerleader in everything he writes. This time, I found myself thinking, numerous times, "that's not true."

Then I found myself getting angry because of something he wrote.

As I pressed forward in the book, I realized what was happening. It was something that happens to me with very few books these days. I was being challenged to think.

While I don't agree with his every single conclusion, I do agree with most of what's in this book. And I think it is an important book.

Certainly I walked away feeling that the bar had been raised on the quality of my work. Or, I should say, my art.
Profile Image for Phil Beardmore.
12 reviews
March 3, 2013
"We're not looking for the correct method, we're looking for the incorrect method".

This quote from Keith Richards sums up the philosophy of this book. Creators, innovators, artists are all people who don't seek other people's approval to ask "what if?" They know that "this might not work" but the excitement of finding out is what drives them forward. They don't mind that what they create has rough edges - the rough edges are the entire point.

I won this book in a Twitter competition organised by Joanna Penn so I didn't know quite what to expect, only being vaguely familiar with Seth Godin. It turned out that The Icarus Deception chimed with the way I already think and helped me to clarify some ideas that were half-formed in my mind.

Seth Godin's thesis is that we are taught and conditioned not to attempt to fly too close to the sun, as Icarus was. Icarus was deceived, as we have all been, into thinking that it's better to be safe than sorry. Things have changed, and in the new connection-based economy, it is better to be sorry than safe. Treat your work as art, and don't be afraid to seize new ground, flout the rules and work without a map. Having spent many years in an organisation that prevented me from doing things that I thought needed doing, I read on ...

I am one of those people who make notes on post-its when I'm reading a book, as aide-memoires to help me remember what I've learned. This book made me stop every few words to reach for the post-it notes, such are the insights in every single paragraph. I found myself nodding in agreement on every single page.

I only have one gripe with this book. Seth Godin describes Susan Cain as 'shy'. Susan isn't shy. She is an introvert, and a shining example of how creative introverts are, because we shun the cult of popularity.

Artists seek out and organise other people of talent irrespective of where they sit in an organisation chart or even which company or sector they are in.

Believe in yourself and trust your instincts. Learn new stuff. Embrace the connection economy. Give yourself the permission to be a creator.
Profile Image for Ben Love.
125 reviews21 followers
August 26, 2013
I first read the pre-release ebook when Seth made it available over Thanksgiving on timebx. The the physical book arrived and I chewed my way through that too. Then the audiobook was released at the start of the year and I just finished that. Listen to the audiobook... to hear Seth convey his work is the best way to understand his intent.
The book is a Linchpin The Second. If you read and lived out Seth's best previous work, this is deeper plea and a some calibration until a little over half way through the book then something noticeably changes. The comparisons to his blog and books in your head stop and you start to question why you haven't done more, haven't thrown all of your art out to the world and start to imagine the very things you're going to start and not stop the very second this book is finished. You could call it impact, maybe even a kick up the butt, but those are temporary and transactional. This book does something seriously different. Once you get over your (likely incorrect) preconception of the term art, the Icarus Deception changes you.
301 reviews4 followers
October 22, 2014
I bet Seth Godin is the kind of guy who starts conversations in the locker room with other men while he's completely nude, chewing off the ears of his "listeners" while showing no intention of wrapping a towel around himself or getting dressed. As if to say "Are you comfortable with this? Or have you been brainwashed to fear the human body?"

This book is the very worst kind of business book. I started listening to it on audiobook, and I'm glad I did, because Seth Godin read it himself so that I can be sure of the tone this book was written in. It's drivel, it's inane, and it's smug. Godin lashes out in all directions at new possible buzz phrases--"connection economy", "safety zone", "create art." He wears out trite buzz phrases from management fads past, especially the frustratingly pervasive "telling compelling stories," "the stories we tell ourselves," etc. He snidely abuses the "industrial economy" for brainwashing the art out of people, and (predictably) believes that the new economy will go to those who can create the buzziest blogs and make "connections" using the internet and smartphones.

He makes bland pronouncements with no discernible justification. "Freelancers who do great work at a fair price are finding that it's not enough in this economy" (paraphrased.) What? What statistics back this up? What sort of professions is he talking about? He doesn't even offer anecdotes to justify these claims, at least not in the audiobook. I think any reader who actually knows self-employed people who do good, timely, affordable work would be shocked to hear this. Reliable service people are usually booked solid with business, whether they have a Google AdWords budget or not. At least, that has been my experience.

Apparently the "Icarus Deception" is that if we fly in the middle heights, between the sun and waves, we'll be safe and make it out alive on the other side (a pensioned retirement). Not surprisingly, "the man" and "the system" have convinced us that the high heights near the sun are too hot, and we'll come crashing down. The safe way may have worked for our parents, but now we have Instagram in a way that our parents and grandparents never did. That makes things fundamentally different. Again predictably the solution is to make sure to fail frequently and do "interesting" things, not safe things. Like making your own YouTube video--something like that. Something like that is good and interesting "for the connection economy."

I listened to about 75 minutes of the audiobook before stopping. A lot of the book is meaningless, but the dumbest thing I heard was "interesting is the opposite of coherent." Because apparently coherence is the very definition of uninteresting based on a non sequitur that I can't remember, and "art" is not coherent. We should be creating art, so we should be flouting coherence whenever it's in our way. The author sets a fine example by putting forward an incoherent argument in this book. So it must be art. That's the only way that I can understand its popularity.
Profile Image for Dan.
5 reviews
February 5, 2017
just received my copy today & cant put it down. Thanks Seth, for writing it specifically for me.
I've also read a number of the reviews, only a couple of which were negative. To those, i say "you've missed the point".
If you were looking for something more than was in book, Seth's premise is "Good, go write it yourself - be brave, be bold, and stretch yourself".
If you didnt get it, you might (perhaps) still be a 'cog'. Thats not neccessarily a bad thing, unless you dont want to be a cog anymore.
P19 "most people have be brainwashed into believing that their job is to copyedit the world, not to design it"
Could it be that Seth did hit the mark, and you just havent 'got' it yet?
In which case, give it to another who wants to 'de-couple' from the machine, and have them explain it to you.
Profile Image for Philip.
206 reviews29 followers
May 30, 2013
Godin’s work points to the need for artists (he paints with a broad brush on this term) to create and work without boundaries. This book points out the oppressive nature of industrialization on creativity. Godin encourages his readers to think less about how to make money and more about how to make what makes them happy. I think this book is valuable for those who are trying to stretch their wings, but it is a little less than genuine at points. Godin makes the point that the industrialists are the ones who are out to set up good guys and bad guys, while artists and their ilk want to have a relationship and connectivity. This seems a little disingenuous coming from an author who spends almost the entirety of the work demonizing most of modern businesses and the commercial paradigm from which they operate. I’m not saying that they’re right. I’m just saying that Godin doesn’t seem to be quite honest with all of his criticisms. There’s plenty of good and a little bit of bad in this one. Eat the meat and spit out the bones.
Profile Image for Ana-Maria Beșa.
44 reviews29 followers
February 28, 2021
"Rareori vedem lumea așa cum e. În cea mai mare parte a timpului suntem atât de ocupați să compartimentăm, să judecăm și să ignorăm lucrurile cu care nu suntem de acord, încât nu mai vedem aproape nimic. Nu vedem oportunitățile. Nu observăm durerea. Și, cel mai important, refuzăm să vedem pericolul care apare când nu facem nimic.
Dacă nu poți să vezi, nu vei reuși niciodată să faci artă cu succes."
Profile Image for Amy Rhoda  Brown.
211 reviews37 followers
October 9, 2017
I want to love Seth Godin's books, I really do. I picked this one up because I'm trying to summon the nerve to publish more and Godin's advice is just the what I need right now: take risks, step outside your comfort zone, be vulnerable, don't mind the haters, etc.

But I just couldn't get into this book. I couldn't follow it — it just felt like a lot of little ideas thrown out without a whole lot of organization or logic. It's hard to put my finger on; it is divided into chapters and sections, so there should be logic to it.

The thesis of the book is that art is an anti-corporate, anti-capitalist act and that making art (not making widgets) is the way to succeed. The core of my problem with the book is that these are profound, big ideas, presented as a printed-out blog post. Short sentences, short paragraphs, and a new section for each new idea instead of linking the ideas with text; there are between one and three section heads on every spread. (I suppose it's a book written for people who don't really read.)

I'm also frustrated by this book because Godin makes a lot of unsupported assertions. For example: "...every successful kids' book is a breakthrough. Every book that works breaks the rules that came before it". I guess that's true for a certain definition of "successful" (maybe that the book attracts the attention of people outside its target audience?) but I've read (and re-read) lots of lovely children's books which followed a formula and did it well. I suppose that makes me the kind of pedant that Godin deplores (a "copyeditor"!!!) but I can't buy someone's ideas if my bullshit detector keeps buzzing. So later when he says of Julliard violin students, "the only thing that will sustain these extraordinarily talented students going forward is going to be original art" I think, Really? I suspect that both being a very competent interpreter of existing music and "playing music in ways that no one expects" are precarious paths and most of those talented students will end up getting some side gig to support their music careers.

Anyway, all this is not to say that I disagree with Godin's ideas. They are, in fact, exactly what I need right now. But the truth is I gleaned all of them (and had a lot more fun) watching a few seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Profile Image for John.
Author 6 books6 followers
January 6, 2013
I love Seth's work, but this vein of books is getting a little thin. Especially after reading his latest blog post...

"In order to monetize your work, you'll probably corrupt it, taking out the magic in search of dollars." http://goals4u.us/TUbJwL

The magic has seemed to come out of his latest works, as they are mostly rehashes of previous ideas, yet they are priced relatively high for Kindle books. Seems a tad disingenuous.
Profile Image for Denise D’Antonio.
4 reviews21 followers
February 10, 2013
Good, if you're brand new to Seth Godin's work. If not, then this is nothing new from him, other than the metaphor about the story of Icarus. This book is meant to stir a lot of emotion about Art and reaching your potential (fly high, not too low). But, that message should be taken with the understanding, that your potential as an Artist develops with years and years of practice and work. You won't be "flying high" when you're first starting out. So, while I think it's great that Seth is getting people all hyped up about doing their "art", this type of grandiose emotion he's stirring could do more harm than good if you're an amateur because you need *humility*, patience, and commitment when you begin any artistic endeavor.
Profile Image for Kara O.
80 reviews29 followers
June 1, 2013
I appreciate the sentiment of this book. I appreciate the risk it took to write about the fact that yes you shouldn't fly too close to the sun, but you also shouldn't fly too close to the water. You can do better than what you are doing now. I think the term Godin kept using "art," could be confusing. I definitely want to create art in my life and make a difference. Godin gave some good pointers on how to do so. I just feel like this is a book that is written for a specific set of people. Some people can't "concentrate on making art" when they are living paycheck to paycheck. It is easy to say take the risk, throw it all away, move to a new city, change the world. Some people have to focus on feeding their children and keeping a roof over their heads.

Needless to say, I was inspired by this and do want to work on not giving into the fear and figuring out how I can "make art" in the job where I currently am.
Profile Image for Colleen Wainwright.
244 reviews50 followers
December 31, 2012
It may be because of where I am in my own creative-development arc, but this book got to me—and inspired me, and surprised me—more than any of Seth's books to date. It is written in the same staccato style as his blog, the writing form he excels at, but with the full emotional impact (again, for me!) of his best talks. I've already written a piece on it for my actors' column, and would like to do one for my poor, moribund blog when I finally am up to resuscitating it. In the meantime, this is a book to be relished, to be read slowly, to read with a highlighter for capturing quotes and a piece of paper for noting references to follow up on later.
Profile Image for Michael Nobbs.
Author 11 books21 followers
June 30, 2013
As always Seth inspires us to not wait to be picked, but instead get on and forge our on place in the world. Good stuff!
Profile Image for Debra Langley.
Author 2 books9 followers
July 6, 2014
Enjoyed the central message of the book which is ....make more art but found the writing to lack a cohesive train of thought. Bits and pieces slapped together to make a quick buck. Not his best work.
Profile Image for Danielius (Debesyla).
Author 1 book244 followers
January 19, 2019
„Ikaro apgaulė“: motyvacinė knyga norintiems tapti freelanceriais.

1 🛩️ - Šie laikai jau ne industrinės ekonomikos laikai - gamyklos veikia, taip, bet didžiausią pasiekia drąsūs kūrėjai. Šiandien yra ryšių ir informacijos ekonomikos laikai.

2 🛩️ - Nepaprastumas beveik visuomet yra kas nors nauja ir neišbandyta, šviežia ir rizikinga. Tai ne kiekybė ar netgi kokybė. Jei nori šiais laikais išsiskirti - būk drąsus. Nuoširdus. Atviras.

3 🛩️ - Kiek atsakomybės esi pasiryžęs prisiimti prieš ją tau suteikiant? Šiais laikais niekas nepasakinėja kada būsi vertas rodytis kitiems. Kiek atsakomybės esi pasiryžęs prisiimti PRIEŠ ją tau suteikiant? Kai čiupę mikrofoną pasisakome, per žingsnį priartėjame prie to darbo, kurį sugebame dirbti.

4 🛩️ - Ryšys yra kūrybos rezultatas. Kiek ryšių užmezgei? Tai vienas iš būdų išmatuoti, ar tavo atliktas darbas svarbus. Kai per susirinkimą drąsiai išsakai savo nuomonę, kiek žmonių ji paveikia, kiek jų sureaguoja ir ima atitinkamai veikti?

5 🛩️ - Svarbiausiai yra ką darai tu. Nesunku išrinkti patį prasčiausią savo vaidinimą ir palyginti su geriausiu konkurentų pasirodymu. Bet tai neturi prasmės. Tavo geriausias darbas yra dovana. Žinoma, jį galima pagerinti, bet pirmiausia tai dovana. Tavo kilniadvasiškumas svarbesnis už tobulumą.

...Ką manai? Ar pritartum, kad dabar - svarbiausia būti atviram kūrėjui? 🛩️
13 reviews
January 23, 2013
I'm doing my best to read a book every 10 days or so this year. It's likely I'll fall behind but at least in trying this I'm much more likely to actually FINISH books, which I think is important.

My first book of 2013 is Seth Godin's The Icarus Deception. I got a lot out of this book and will undoubtedly keep referring back to it. The message is powerful - he encapsulates it on the first page - "We are all artists now". His thinking (which I agree with) is that so much of what we were brought up to do and believe in (passing tests, getting degrees, going to good schools, progressing up a career ladder, being a company person) no longer exists or is no longer worthwhile. The alternative is embracing the "connection economy" - making things, making art, and using it to connect to others. This summary doesn't do justice to the book so I'd recommend if you're in to that sort of thing, that you read it. It's a pretty quick read.

Although I loved this book, I'll mention two things that I noticed. Firstly, his definition of art goes far beyond traditional arts - it's about doing anything well and with commitment, from being a waitress, to building a wall, to starting a company. At first, this really irked me because I feel like "art" is, well, art, the creation of a work/body of work/practice of a creative discipline. But he won me over to his side eventually and I accept his definition now too.

Secondly, the book is written in a very similar style to his blog, which is to say that it's all little essays. I really like his style and the punchiness his writing has but at times the chapters seem to lack thematic coherence.

For me, the value in the book is some of the quotes, so I will finish off with a few of my favourites:

p19 "I don't think the shortage of artists has much to do with the innate ability to create or initiate. I think it has to do with believing that it's possible and acceptable for you to do it. We've had these doors open wide for only a decade or so, and most people have been brainwashed into believing that their job is to copyedit the world, not to design it."

p48 "Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked. To seek out the permission, authority, and safety that come from a publisher or a talk-show host or riven a blogger who says, "I pick you.""

p95 "Art is a commitment to a process and to a direction and to generosity, not to a result"

p 127 "Shun the nonbelievers…After you've created your art, whatever it is - a service, an idea, an interaction, a performance, a meeting - it's done. What the audience does with it is out of your control. "

p129 "When those who love you speak of a life well lived, we'll talk about the lines you managed to colour outside of, the people you touched, and the ruckus you made. Most of all, we'll remember how you took a chance and connected with us."

p136 "Once I realised that the cold sweat, the palpitations, the wily stalling, the insecurity, and the feature were part of making art, I was able to relax into my work. It's not even a cease-fire any longer. It's a partnership, not a war. "

"The resistance is a symptom that you're on the right track. The resistance is not something to be avoided; it's something to seek out."

p184 "Everyone is lonely and everyone feels like a fraud. I feel like a fraud as I type this, as I brush my teeth, and every time I go onstage.

This is part of the human condition. Accepted. Now what?"

p197 "We don't want to put ourselves at risk of being seen as arrogant or acting with hubris, because the shame of being seen as a fraud lurks right around the corner."

Profile Image for Pam.
Author 20 books38 followers
July 25, 2013
Got this on audio book and listened while I ellipticized. While it may not have had quite the upbeat energy I love to keep me going on the elliptical, it nonetheless was constantly inspiring. I've seen reviews that say if you've read all of Seth's stuff, this book is just more of the same. That may be true; I haven't read all his work so I don't know. But for me, this book held so many truths and ideas. I changed my world four years ago when I decided to become a writer; the repercussions of this have been more far-reaching than I ever imagined. In The Icarus Deception Seth talks about how art is inherently risky, and how when we make art we can't do it for approval; we have to do it for the art. This, and so much more, resonated with me. Deciding to be a writer meant deciding to live with the risk of rejection *all the time*. It hasn't been easy, but Seth's book reminded me why I do it. He also talks about creating in the Connection Economy, about scarcity, ... so much good stuff! Just read it! Or listen to it!
Profile Image for Kristin.
Author 3 books10 followers
June 1, 2016
I couldn't cope with the prose so I abandoned the book altogether. I suppose that might mean I'm not a "high flyer", as Godin might define it. But the reality is that I've never been one to take seriously those airbrushed posters of soaring eagles with mindless "inspirational" quotes as their captions. I don't do short, punchy, setting-the-record-straight businesspeak. This book is complete rubbish.
Profile Image for J.H. Bunting.
Author 9 books240 followers
January 25, 2013

While reading this book, I finalized my plans to start two new "art projects" that I had long been considering but had stalled out on. I wrote two articles and over ten of pages of notes about new ideas. I underlined dozens of quotes. While reading this book, I embraced my fear and made art.

This book changed my life.
Profile Image for Chanel Hanulová.
11 reviews2 followers
May 9, 2021
"It's unlikely that you'll create something scarce without doing something risky to get there."

This book of Seth Godin is not for everyone. Many argue that one must be a part of his “tribe” to understand the terminology. I don’t agree.
I came because of my interest in marketing area, and this is my first book from him. Although I’d recognize familiar name, I never subscribed to any programs he offers, yet I still enjoyed the book!

He challenges a reader with a concept of art as work/project/job and dives into the comparison of industrial economy and connection economy. Godin encourages us to practice the craft in which we strive to get better (writer’s block vs speaker’s block which happens rather rarely), connect with others, pick the criticism & let it help to guide our way, stay consistent and deliver our work. Accompanied by many valid examples from various fields and present as well as historical figures.

Easy & insightful read!
Profile Image for Rajanikanth Bijigiri.
13 reviews1 follower
September 5, 2019
The Icarus Deception summary:
Author: Seth Godin
So much insight, feel so many of the aspects are very relatable.
How high will you fly. This is in reference to Icarus who died because of his hubris ignoring his father's advice not to fly high, close to the sun because his wings are attached using wax. The book is about these myths, propaganda and other scare tactics that are now very much irrelevant in this connected world. Book is about how changing business world is very different from industrial world and how it rewards art and artists rather than someone who just follows rules. It says we are all artists. We just don't realize or don't want to because of the upbringing and the society. This book urges us to break all this deception and propaganda that is fed in to us by media, industrialists, authorities etc. so that we will do that work which suits their motives thinking that it is the ideal one.
Full summary:
We are all artists now:
Part-0: Art, the comfort zone, and the chance of a lifetime:
Stories like that of Icarus are spread in today's society by the powerful with target of keeping their power intact and keeping people scared of thinking big and making it a bad thing.
Now, it's possible to fly highest ever. Generally safety zone and comfort zone of most people overlap. Should not confuse one for the other. With changing times and society, safety zone of people moves but people are not quick enough to adapt and make the new safety zone their comfort zone.
Quality is assumed. All we're willing to pay extra is for what we don't assume, what we can't get easily and regularly and for free. High quality work or competence is no longer scarce, these are assumed. What's scarce is trust, connection and surprise.
Once you're good at something, moving to a new way of doing it will be stressful because it will make you momentarily incompetent. But if the safe zone has already moved, you need to change your framework to move out of your comfort zone and to the new safe zone.
The pain is real:
It's the pain of possibility, vulnerability and risk. Onze you stop feeling it, you've lost your best chance to make a difference. Easiest way to lull your pain is by finding a job that numbs you. But soon the pain of artist will be replaced by the pain of the cog. Pain of someone who knows that his gifts are being wasted and that his future is out of his control.
If it doesn't ship, it's not art: Tell us not about your notebook filled with ideas but about the connections you have enabled and the impact you have made instead.
We have been trained to prefer being right to learning something. Most people believe they are incapable of Initiative. But we need to make a difference, make a ruckus, make a legacy.
Part 1: The connection economy demands that we create art:
Different times had different oportunities, hence different targets for the youngsters. Now is the time for art, new and original that connects to people.
Industrialist not only wants to make ever more profits but wants to change two things that were never changed on a mammoth, worldwide scale before. One is culture. Capitalism destroyed the culture replacing it with something shinier. He does it by advertising and lobbying.
Second one is our dreams. Being a human today means more wealth, health and leverage to influence others. Industrialist benefits from our dream of moving up the corporate ladder, his ladder. Command and control and avoidance of failure permeate every corner of our culture. He is looking for signals of conformity.
Better sorry than safe:
Management is about generating yesterday's results, but a little faster or more cheaply.
Holding back is so close to stealing. Connection between people is emotional labour. It scales very well.
You should be willing to take responsibility before it's given to you.
Connection begins with destiny.
We have a surplus if choice, quality and entertainment. But we're still lonely and bored.
Are you not tired of pretending that you can't make a difference.
Part 2: Myths, propaganda and kamiwaza:
A myth is the society's dream. They are about our favorite person, or best possible self. Propaganda is not myth. The people with power would like us to believe these are just like myths. Propaganda is a set of stories about what someone in power would like you to be. Myths are about becoming more godlike and achieving our best. Propaganda, on the other hand, celebrates those in power and urges us to willingly comply with their desires. The feedback that comes from popularity in popularity obsessed system a becomes an addiction. One will resort to short term pleasing instead of artistry. The opportunity is not in being momentarily popular with the anonymous masses. It's in being missed when you're gone, in doing work that matters to the tribe of your choosing.
The cog needs instructions. Entrepreneur looks for exit in sight. But the impresario takes what is available and make magic.
Kamiwaza is willing to be godlike.
Understand fear. Watch it, Learn about it, cine directly into contact with it. We are to learn about fear, not how to escape from it.
Is your own choice between being a linchpin and the cog.
Part 3: Grit and art and the work that's worth doing:
Remove external control, motivation and approval. When you rely on external motivation, you will be judged by how well your boss does at motivating you, not based on who you are.
Linchpins are the people with grit. Who stand for something. Organization that wants growth and seeks to create value has no choice but to hire linchpins.
Part 4: Shame, vulnerability and being naked:
People in power and organizations that are functioning at scale rarely seek to discover truths that disturb their status quo. In this circumstance, if enough people are not doubting you, you're not making a difference. Change is difficult because it means moving away from something hardwired into us, the desire to fit in. Kamiwaza is performing in a way that eliminates hidung places and excuses. A way that leaves is nowhere to point the finger.
The only way to be successfully vulnerable is to separate results of your art from your instinct to feel shamed. While someone can attempt to shane you, they can't make you feel shame without your participation and acceptance. Shame had long been a tool of those in power. Easiest way to avoid shame is to lie low. But it's also a recipe for ending up outside your safety zone. You can still avoid shane by hiding(lying low), but you won't find happiness or even stability that way.
Art doesn't become art without audience. Goal as an artist is to make art that moves audience of your choice. We have to choose an audience that respects our work.
Resistance is the lizard brain that is procrastination, and there subtle instinct to do less, to fit in, to get along and become mediocre. When resistance shows up, you can be happy that your path is right but you can't let resistance be a block on your path.
You already know a path. The goal is not to find a better path but it's to find the bravery to change your mind.
You need to know the conventional wisdom inside out. Not to obey the rules but to break them.
Part 5: To make art, think like an artist. To connect, be human.
Answer to all your issues is to make art. If it's not working, make better art. If you don't know how to make better art, learn.
First, learn to see things the way they are. (Prajna). Accept what happens without stopping to interpret it according to your biases.
After sometime, everyone learns to see patterns, this is useful in dahulu life and is part of your world view. Until they don't. At sine point, we so seeing patterns and start looking for shortcuts. We profile, believing our own shortcuts to be correct, and everything gets a name. So, the goal is to have ao many pattern rules and labels and be aware of so many worldviews that they swirl together and fallow you to before naive all over again.
If you are afraid to write or edit or assemble or dia assemble you are merely a spectator.
Consultant asks the organization what do you think you should do. This night be a good way to make the sale to an organization that already knows what it wants.
To make art, learn how to see and find the guts to make important work.
Willfully uninformed: giving up control by waiting to get picked, while giving in to resistance and refusing to understand how their industry works. Without dumating knowledge, without understanding the raktha and points of view of all the players who are involved, the artist willingly becomes a helpless pawn.
It is impossible to pick yourself if you dine understand hoe the system works.
You can risk being wrong or you can be boring. Working in anticipation of the outcome actually degrades the thing you are making.
Learn your field, excel in domain knowledge. Have empathy for your customers and care deeply about how your work well affect them but make what you will make. Not in anticipation of applause nor because you are entangled in the results. Only when you make at that isn't for everyone do you have a chance to connect with someone.
Is impossible for the engaged worker (industrial) to both follow instructions and genuinely care.
Write something every single day. Not diary, not fiction. Wie about how to do something.
You are your own boss. If you had a boss who wasted as much time as you do, he would be fired. Develop yourself.
Turn your job info art: You can take responsibility. Make small experiments, small connections, small failures and own the results. No need of lightening bolt of inspiration. The big work is available to you as soon as you decide to do it. Pick which rules to break, and embrace the rest.
If you want someone else to take the blame and give you the credit, you will wait a very long time. There is no shortage of obedient and very good violin players. The only way forward is original art.
Of course the industrial work needs to get done. But it doesn't mean you have to do it. We get better at what we practice.
We get into creative art because we have good taste. Make volumes of good art to bridge gap between expectations and reality.
Our lizard brain is quick to imagine the worst case scenario for every one of our artistic actions. This is obsolete tool.
If you live a life in shadows, you never have to confront the fradulent feeling of being called talented out the horror of being recognized as fraud. So much easier to hide.
There is work that only you can do.
You are not your art. You are an artist, not the art.
If you want to, you can be never finished. Facing a sea of infinity, is easy to despair. Silence and feeling that maybe that's all. But it's a dance, not a grind.
If you have decided that you can't do art till you quiet the voice of the resistance, you will never do art. As soon as you embrace the lizard(engage it as partner in your art), you are free.
We are being held back by fear of being seen as a fraud.
One of the lizard's most pernicious tactics is to push you to fall in love with the impossible project or dream, worthy but ultimately doomed missions. After all if your query is one that can't possibly be achieved, how can anykn blame you for not achieving it.
It's more acceptable to fail in conventional ways than in unconventional ways. That is the reward for succeeding in unconventional ways is less than the risk of failing in unconventional ways.
If it's work, the instinct is to do less of it. If you are playing a game, then the goal is to keep playing.
Neophilia: awesomeness has a half life. You grow accostomed to every new marvel and miracle.
Funktionlust: love of doing something merely for the sake of doing it. Not simply because it's likely to work.
If you are not prepared to dance in anticipation, you're definitely not doing art. When the result isn't the only point, your going to spend more time on process and intent.
Don't put emotional baggage on every project and every interaction. The goal is to keep playing, not to win.
Now is a lousy time to extract unreasonable profits by making average stuff for average people. On the other hand, there's never been a better time to have something to say, to embrace change. There's never been a better time to make connections instead of stuff.
The biggest black mark on your working resume is the road not taken, the project not initiated and the art not made.
You don't need anyone's permission.
Profile Image for Kent Winward.
1,679 reviews46 followers
November 26, 2020
Here's the thing: I usually agree with Godin about things, but implementation always is harder than it seems it should be. In his current book, he makes a great case for creating art and infusing that art into the economy. I enjoy and love all these type of polemics to be true to your artistic vision.

Maybe my only complaint is this: As Godin says throughout the book -- making art is hard work. Reading the book is extremely motivating on one hand, but on the other, knowing the day in and day out drudgery of what art entails, it felt a little bit like gorging on donuts before a workout. Well, off to create some art --

On a re-reading Godin's split personality of business guru and art maker wannabe is on full display. It has been seven years since my last read and the industrialized world of the Boomers that Godin is talking about has morphed into something us old guys couldn't predict. He was sort of right, but he completely missed that the old system was about to ready dig in its heels to suck all the money away from art. Sure, keep trying to fly high, but we should try to be more like Daedalus than Icarus.
Profile Image for camcollins.
17 reviews1 follower
January 16, 2013
In a wonderful podcast series called the Seth Godin Startup School, Seth announces to the group in the summer of 2012 that four years ago he stopped writing for the masses and just started focusing on his tribe. He said he didn't really need more readers and that he wanted to give back to his audience, to make art for them.

This book embodies that notion. If you have read a number of Seth Godin books, Icarus builds on a theme that Seth has been building on since Permission Marketing. Icarus in my opinion is a more personal extension of Linchpin where he gets more into the personal nature and internal struggles people have in their mental battle of transforming from "cog" to "artist".

In the main stream media and general press this book will likely get mixed reviews. Some people get Seth, others don't and I am sure Seth is just fine with that. After all if his art didn't make a ruckus it wouldn't be art, right?

[Disclaimer: I was a contributor to Seth's Kickstarter that funded this project. The unveiling of the $360 care package can be found here].
Profile Image for Sue Cartwright.
99 reviews22 followers
November 12, 2018
I've only just started reading this book and already I am inspired to stop procrastinating and publish my art!

The interesting thing that Seth highlights (in his usual brilliant style) is that the Icarus legend is often interpreted all wrong. The part of the myth we are told is to not fly too high, as Daedalus instructed his son, Icarus not too get too close to the sun or his wings made of wax would melt. What we have NOT been told is that Daedalus also instructed his son not to fly too LOW, because the water would ruin the lift in his wings.

I'm only on page 19 and already I get the point, the connection economy demands that we create art, that we create opportunities amid the junk, that we categorically reject criticism, and bravely go where no man or woman has gone before with our own unique insight, talent and personality to make the world a better place.

I will be back with the full story, but thank you again, Seth for giving me the courage to ACT.

I am so ready to fly and the only question for me now is HOW HIGH?
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