The Icarus Deception
A little light banter on the recent post New Safety Risk Header in regards to the wings on one of the characters made me recall the story of Icarus.
Remember Icarus? According to Wikipedia: Often depicted in art, Icarus and his father attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father constructed from feathers and wax. Icarus’s father warns him first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he fly neither too low nor too high, because the sea’s dampness would clog his wings or the sun’s heat would melt them. Icarus ignored his father’s instructions not to fly too close to the sun, whereupon the wax in his wings melted and he fell into the sea.
I can’t remember how or when I heard that story but it was probably as a kid and in the context of knowing my limits, not pushing too hard, biting off more than I could chew or similar – I hope that didn’t result in too many unconscious risk aversion behaviours? Still not as bad as the message pushed on kids these days which is almost “don’t even think about trying to fly”.
In doing some research to help me remember the story of Icarus I stumbled upon a number of subversives pushing the concept of “The Icarus Deception”. From what I can gather this started with a book by founder of www.squidoo.com , entrepreneur and marketer, Seth Godin, titled: The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?. The Amazon intro to the book says it all, and regular readers of our blog will recognise some familiar messages:
In Seth Godin’s most inspiring book, 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; 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 that 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 deceptively safe.
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.
I need to do a bit more reading about this and I’ll leave it up to you for now to discover more about it if you want to but would love to hear your thoughts. In the world of Zero Harm I don’t think the Icarus Deception would fly! There are some great quotes from the book here.
Here is a light, short video by Seth that you might enjoy: