The Icarus Deception – Book Review


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I recently downloaded Seth Godin’s “The Icarus Deception” on Audible as my work habits have changed and I have a couple of 90 minute commutes every week. I consider it a real plus in the audio version that Seth reads it himself.

Seth Godin is a visionary with a powerful message for anyone who will listen.icarus cover

“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.” excerpted from the Amazon page.

I’ve been a Seth Godin fan since reading Permission Marketing about 10 years ago. His blog email is one of the few emails that I anticipate and read every morning.

I have often wondered if Seth has a team of geniuses writing on his blog as it is an endless stream of amazing insight that almost always caused me to think. I was recently advised by people who know him, that it’s just him writing it. He gets out of bed every morning and writes whatever comes into his head. If you don’t already get his blog email, you can subscribe here.

The message in The Icarus Deception resonated strongly with me, an Australian Baby-boomer. I grew up in a culture where “flying too close to the Sun” was actively discouraged in an Aussie version of the myth called the “Tall Poppy Syndrome”. The message many boomers bought and which is still being promoted by industrial-based thinking today is “Play it safe, be a good worker, you’ll get promoted, own your own home and get to send your kids to University.”

Interestingly in the past 200 years, the Icarus myth somehow deleted Deadalus’ other warning to Icarus, not to fly too low, less his wings get wet and ruin their lift. Seth states that this is even more dangerous than flying too high and it’s the driving idea in the book that must have been repeated 20-30 times in various stories, case studies and anecdotes.

Seth’s message is most certainly appropriate for my daughter and her generation Y cohort. They are going to have to be very brave and make powerful art that connects billions of people to solve the problems humans have created in the past 200 years of industrialization that threaten our very survival as a species.

The Icarus Deception is about taking risks, finding your passion, leaving the certainty, commoditization and interchangeability of the industrial-age work-style and making art for yourself and your tribe. I felt like Seth had written the book for me, because the model our cohort grew up with was the industrial model.

The biggest problem with the old model is that industrialists, beginning with Henry Ford have created mass production and interchangeability of people and roles and the value of work and compensation has slowly been eroded as work is moved to the point of lowest cost, wherever that may be.

If you don’t buy this then you are obviously disconnected from the plight of the middle-class, who have seen their standard of living steadily erode over the past 10-15 years.

The new model is going to take guts and determination. To make art, connect and build a tribe of followers who will buy your art in the new “connection economy” is not for the faint hearted.

Another strong theme in the book that resonated and will be familiar to readers of Steve Pressfield’s book “Do the Work” is “to ship”. To make art you must ship, and this means learning to dance with the “resistance” or “lizard-brain”, that diverts attention from the task at hand in a myriad of uncanny ways and learn to focus your individual creative powers on the task at hand.

When I finished listening to the book, I simply clicked go and listened to it again.

This book is not for everyone, it’s intelligent, brave, urgent and compelling and it’s a wake-up call to a civilization running out of time. I highly recommend it.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Gibson
Mark Gibson has been at the forefront of developing sales and marketing tools that create clarity in messaging value for 30 years. As a consultant he is now engaged in helping sales, marketing and enablement teams to get clear about value creation. Clarity attracts inbound leads, clarity converts visitors into leads and leads into customers, clarity builds mindshare, clarity engages customers, clarity differentiates value, clarity helps onboard new hires clarity helps raise funds, clarity + execution win markets.


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