The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin (Portfolio, 2012) $24.95
Seth Godin offers an ultimatum to the readers of his self-proclaimed most daring book yet, The Icarus Deception, a book he funded on Kickstarter, meeting his $40,000 goal in the campaign’s first three hours. Godin challenges his readers: become and artist or…
- Remain stuck where you are—lonely, bored, and uninspired.
- Face the slow death of the status quo.
- Risk trusting that the system will take care of you.
- Become the Man’s Dancing Monkey.
- Be safe and sorry.
“The connection economy works because it focuses on the lonely and the bored. It works because it embraces the individual, not the mob; the weird, not the normal” (59).
This book beckons the everyman and everywoman into a new and burgeoning world based on an entirely different set of economic principles. The Icarus Deception is not a how-to-manual, a self-help book, or a roadmap. It’s more like a compass that positions risk at due north and includes a packing list telling you what to bring with you on the journey (emotional labor, abundance, vulnerability, and connection) and what to leave at home (comfort, applause, the resistance, and the lizard brain).
True to form, Godin is extremely accessible in his most recent book. Whether you are unemployed, a school teacher, a Fortune 500 executive, a homemaker, a pastor, a professional musician, a high schooler, or an office worker, Godin has something to say to you. He predicts the excuses you may employ as to why you, your job, or your situation won’t apply and works to reject your cynicism and self-doubt. The only way to avoid seeing yourself in this book is to close it.
“We’ve been trained to prefer being right to learning something, to prefer passing the test to making a difference, and most of all, to prefer fitting in with the right people, the people with economic power. Now it’s your turn to stand up and stand out” (19).
As with any pioneer, understanding Godin is about re-wiring some fundamental understandings of our story and vocabulary. For example:
- What did the Industrial Revolution do to our identities, our jobs, and our sense of success? It turned us into obedient cogs in a factory system where compliance equals security.
- What is art? Whatever you do when you’re truly alive.
- Who makes art? You do. Because everyone does, or at least everyone can.
- What’s stopping you? The lizard brain mixed with misplaced fear of shame and failure.
“Your worldview, by its nature, keeps you from seeing the world as it is. A lifetime spent noticing begins to turn into the ability to see what others can’t. Artists learn to see all over again. Art is the act of pointing a light at the darkness” (148-49).
I’ve been reading Seth Godin’s blog everyday since 2008. That’s 1825 days. As one of the only consistent and most frequent voices in my life, I often feel like Seth is speaking directly to me and my life circumstance. Whatever my title at the time: student, friend, girlfriend, mentor, entrepreneur, daughter, pastor, business partner, teacher, etc., I have often been struck by this strange sense that Seth is watching me. That he’s following my journey and nudging me to think just a little bit bigger, to be a little more daring, and to do my work a little differently. And my life, my relationships, and my calling have actually been transformed as a result.
If you’ve never read Godin before, The Icarus Deception is a great place to start. If you’ve been reading him for years, The Icarus Deception will read like a familiar, yet perfectly surprising classic.
In a world that is disjointed, in which we struggle to understand one another and find some sort of common ground and shared experience, Godin gives a bit of unity to each of our stories. He forces us to look inside the particulars of our own lives while he poignantly speaks to that place, asking us to make a connection.
“What we are drawn to is the vulnerability and transparency that bring us together, that turn the “other” into one of us” (41).
This book will confront your assumptions about getting ahead and challenge the excuses that are holding you back from making a difference. Godin will ask you to pick yourself and find the guts to make important, interesting work. He will ask you to become a better kind of person— a better boss, a better parent, a better artist, a better human—which is the work of a lifetime.
“If you want to, you can be never finished. And that’s the dance. Facing a sea of infinity, it’s easy to despair, sure that you will never reach dry land, never have the sense of accomplishment of saying, “I’m done.” At the same time, to be finished, done, complete – this is a bit like being dead. The silence and the feeling that maybe that’s all” (191-92).
Samantha Curly is originally from Chicago where she hails as a Northwestern Wildcat alumna. Samantha is a recent graduate of Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. She is the co-founder and executive director of Level Ground, a nonprofit organization that seeks to create safe space for dialogue about faith, gender, and sexuality through art. A writer by nature, Samantha also enjoys film, bread baking, and running. Check out her blog at Sam’s Storybook.