Earlier this week I described how Seth Godin used Kickstarter and his army of fans to fund The Icarus Deception.
Now, finally, it’s time to hear about what’s inside the book itself.
And when Godin asks “are you flying too low” he’s not talking about whether you’ve zipped up your jeans or not.
Taking the Myth
The Icarus Deception centres around the myth of Icarus, who ignored his father’s instructions not to fly too close to the sun, resulting in over-heating problems with his home-made wings and a fatal dip in the sea.
The Icarus myth is often used as an example of when hubris or over-confidence can go badly wrong.
However Godin points out that there is another part of the story – Icarus’s father Daedalus also told his son not to fly too low as the water could also damage his wings.
According to Godin;
“Society has altered the myth, encouraging us to forget the part about the sea, and created a culture where we constantly remind one another about the dangers of standing up, standing out, and making a ruckus.”
However, as Seth says, settling for too little is “a far more common failing”.
Fly Closer to the Sun
The crux of the book is this; We all have the potential to be artists and to do great work. However to do so, we need to leave our comfort zones – to fly closer to the sun. What this requires of us is to have the hubris to take bigger risks and create new things. this requires facing up to the pain involved in the creative process, and being open to possible failure and criticism.
The beautifully produced video below is a great summary of what the book is all about (and inspiring in its own right):
God is a DJ (but not exclusively)
Godin challenges us to consider ourselves on a par with the gods of ancient myth in terms of our creative potential.
He believes we can each take on a godlike quality (please note the small ‘g’) by becoming shamelessly confident. To do this, we must refuse to accept the shame that others bestow onto us for having the audacity to believe in ourselves and our art, and the willingness to be vulnerable enough to share it with the world:
“While someone can attempt to shame you, shame must also be accepted to be effective”.
This is clearly inspired by the message Brene Brown shares in her book Daring Greatly.
Crystallising Existing Concepts About Creativity
Indeed, the book could be seen as the distillation of all of Godin’s previous work as well as a raft of recent literature such as Brown’s book, into a powerful manifesto on the urgent need to be more creative.
Godin also echoes Dan Pink’s 2005 book A Whole New Mind, which argued that creative people were going to be the cornerstones of the new economy as their skills would be most in demand.
Godin believes that, as Pink predicted, we are currently in the midst of the ‘Connection Economy’, which demands we become artists and share more of ourselves with the world in order to succeed.
He also refers to Steven Pressfield’s War of Art and his concept of resistance as something we must battle each day in order to create. For Godin, the resistance is something to be embraced, because if you feel that sense of fear, uncertainty and pain when you come to make art, then you’re probably on the right track.
“Art is the act of doing work that matters while dancing with the voice in your head that screams for you to stop.” #Sethisms
— Milo McLaughlin (@milomclaughlin) January 8, 2013
Getting to the Crux
A few people have commented that The Icarus Deception doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Godin even concedes in the acknowledgements that he has already tried out some of the ideas in the book on his blog – Indeed, it’s written in the same style – short, snappy segments which deal with one small element of the overall argument at a time.
It seems to me that Godin uses his blog and books as a way of digging down to the crux of how the digital revolution has changed both the economy and our lives. Each post, each short section of a book, each Sethism, is Godin’s method of chipping away at an underlying truth, in the same way that a sculptor brings to life a figure from a block of marble.
The Icarus Deception is a compelling and persuasive read that has really motivated me to create more and embrace the pain involved in creating new things as a necessary and integral part of the process.
And because it contains the most up-to-date distillation of Godin’s philosophy about creativity and the digital/connected world we live in, it’s a great book for both those unfamiliar with his previous work and those who have enjoyed following along as his outlook has evolved.
Win by Creating!
I’ve got four copies of The Icarus Deception to give away and one signed copy of the accompanying picture book, V is for Vulnerable, illustrated by Hugh MacLeod. To win you simply need to help me spread Sethisms.
The more you spread, and the closer you follow the competition guidelines, the more likely you are to win! More details here.
Please note that the closing date has been extended until midnight on Monday 21st January.