The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?

by Seth Godin


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781591846079
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/31/2012
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 305,325
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.48(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Seth Godin is the author of more than a dozen bestsellers that have changed the way people think about marketing, leadership, and change, including Permission Marketing, Purple Cow, All Marketers Are Liars, Small is the New Big, The Dip, Tribes, Linchpin, and Poke the Box. He is also the founder and CEO of and a very popular lecturer. He writes one of the most influential business blogs in the world at

Table of Contents

Introduction vii

Part 0 Art, the Comfort Zone, and the Chance of a Lifetime 1

Art is the truly human act of creating something new that matters to another person. The only refuge left, the only safe path, is to be the one who makes art.

Part 1 The Connection Economy Demands That We Create Art 20

The industrial age had little use for art because it decreased productivity for the organized factory. That age is ending, and we need to clean out the cruft it leaves behind and build something more valuable in its place.

Part 2 Myths, Propaganda, and Kamiwaza 73

The gods are us, yet we've been fooled into thinking we have no right to act as they do.

Part 3 Grit and Art and the Work That's Worth Doing 108

The path available to us is to gum up the works, stand firm, and pick ourselves.

Part 4 Shame, Vulnerability, and Being Naked 117

Of course it's difficult and frightening. When we do art, we put ourselves at risk, because risk is part of what makes it art.

Part 5 To Make Art, Think Like an Artist. To Connect, Be Human. 143

More than eighty-seven ideas to chew on.

Appendix 1 True-Life Stories of Fourteen Real Artists 221

Could be you.

Appendix 2 V Is for Vulnerable: An Artist's Abecedary 235

An alphabet for artists.

Acknowledgments 241

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