The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin [Book Summary]


The digital revolution is here forever. Computers are becoming more smarter. Repetitive, boring, and safe occupations related to the nine-to-five routine are vanishing. That isn’t essentially a bad thing; however, it signifies that you will need to get used to the present digital economy. 

Therefore, how can you do that? Well, you will need to accept creativity and turn into an artist. As it was highlighted by Seth Godin, art isn’t only about painting images and making music; however, it is any creative job that needs both passion and ingenuity. Meaning, things, that computers just can’t do.

It is not easy being an artist. It needs complete devotion and thick skin. Also, it is risky: different from those old office jobs, there’s no certain salary for your hard work. However, it’s more satisfying and better for society at large. Nevertheless, who wouldn’t want to stay in a world where people commit themselves to chase things they truly care about?

However, you don’t need to do it alone. This book sets common myths to bed and offers a wealth of advice on how to release your inner creative potential.



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Chapter 1 – The Icarus Deception enables us to very cautious; however, we have to get out of our comfort zone.


The future will be progressively automated. Machines will take possession of more and more manual and administrative jobs. Therefore, what will be remaining for us humans? Well, we’ll have to become much more creative. However, we’ve been really slow in knowing this.

This can be blamed on the Icarus Deception. We stay in a society where we settle for really little. We’ve really believed in the Greek myth of Icarus; however, we’ve also misunderstood it as well.

The father of Icarus was Daedalus, a craftsman sent into prison with his son for not obeying Minos, the king of Crete. But, Daedalus had a plan and began making wings for himself and his son to assist them to run away. He said to his son not to fly really high in order for the sun not to melt the wax that his holding wings together. Icarus didn’t heed to his father’s warning and flew towards the sun. Definitely, his wings melted, and he rushed to his death.

Our culture has held on this aspect of the myth. “Don’t fly really high!” is the lesson we’ve gotten from the story. However, that’s not everything there is to it. Also, Daedalus advised Icarus not to fly really low, as the spray from the sea would drench his wings and weight him down. Targeting for the stars can be risky; however, being too cautious can be risky as well.



It’s significant bearing in mind this second piece of advice. If we want to prosper, we have to leave our comfort zone, which means we shouldn’t fly really low.

Nevertheless, the world has transformed. Formerly, it was possible to get a safe and well-paid office work with bonuses. That model ended during the 1990s. Nowadays, stable work is only certain to creatives who aren’t scared to take risks and start new ventures. Consider internet startups such as Facebook, started at a time when the success of this type of business model was anything but guaranteed.

We have to learn from that. The new comfort zone is essentially about creativity and connecting with other people.


Chapter 2 – In this new connected economy, there are fewer gatekeepers and more opportunities.


When a kitten is in pain, its parent comes and takes it by the scruff of its neck and takes it to safety. On the other hand, a monkey has to vigorously grab its parent’s back if it needs to flee from danger. Humans have to be less like kittens and more like monkeys in the new economy. We have to learn to be more active.

Therefore, what describes the new economy? Two things are more significant. It’s more connected and there are fewer gatekeepers.

These two qualities are connected. Since everybody is connected through the internet, it becomes more difficult for gatekeepers to say to us what to do or set restrictions. Consider creative jobs. Would-be musicians or actors formerly depended on the consent of authorities in their fields such as agents or directors – the gatekeepers. But, nowadays, people decide on their careers. Platforms such as YouTube and iTunes entail that anybody can connect one on one with their aim audience and share their creative work.



And that forms many new opportunities.

Consider the music industry. Before the internet rising, the way to the top was obviously defined. You had to wait to be talent-scouted by a label, wrote a hit and anticipated you’d be fortunate enough to evade being exploited by your employers. The probabilities of becoming a musician were small. Nowadays, none of that matters. Write and release a song that only two people purchase on iTunes, and you’ll have acquired more than the royalties you would have gotten back during the pre-internet era for selling a complete album!

However, it isn’t only musicians who would gain from the new connected economy. Therapists, teachers, consultants, and designers can all create online businesses on YouTube, social media platforms and personal websites to get to an audience of millions.


Chapter 3 – We have to redefine humility and completely commit to our art.    


There’s a Japanese term that explains how it feels to completely commit to a task and engage yourself in it – kamiwaza. Accurately translated, the meaning is “like the gods.” That might seem awfully arrogant; however, the reason is that our own understanding of humility is defective and it needs an immediate redefinition.

Humility doesn’t signify agreeing to poor performance or not trying one’s putting in one’s best. In contrast, there’s humility in working hard to come to be as good as you possibly can at a thing. When you completely commit to a job, you will be totally engrossed in it and you are not self-conscious anymore about what you’re doing. That entails you stop bothering about other people’s view. That’s genuine humility.

When you get that type of humility, you turn out to be really better at working with and for other people – sharing your best self and attainments with others. It enables you to accept responsibilities and direct others while taking action, even when faced with risks.

Meaning, say, for instance, you possess a strong sense of fashion, it would be more humble to start your own fashion label instead of remaining at your work as an office clerk and convey uninspired work there. Redefining humility in this manner enables you to focus on giving your best work to society without selfishness or arrogance.



And there’s a different point to be known about humility: it’s the precondition for being completely committed to your art. Also, the way to success is commitment: if you retain your safe job and follow your art – or whatever you’re passionate about – in your free time, you’re not likely to get anything with it.

Making something that you share with the world and motivate people with needs humility and effort. However, there’s no assure that you’ll prosper. Different from a regular job, art doesn’t need a permanent salary. Your whole efforts bring nothing. That’s a strict reality, and agreeing that it needs both confidence and humility.


Chapter 4 – To turn into an artist, you need to be independent and cultivate grit.


What is grit? Not that time you see in between salad leaves sometimes! As a matter of fact, it’s one of the most significant talents an artist can possess. Honestly speaking, if you wish to become an artist, you need to have grit.

Art isn’t only about painting images or producing music. It’s any task that you chase creatively with the goal of making something new in the world. It might be a revolutionary customer service system or a new kind of abstract painting. Anything it is, you’ll require the grit to put it out there.

Take it from Angela Duckworth a psychologist, the author of Grit. She discovered that many people believe that grit only means perseverance. But, they’re not really the same thing though. Grit is essentially about setting clear goals that show your real passions. That might be something such as creating a social platform to bring environmental campaigners together. The vision is important. As soon as you understand what you want to attain, it’s very easier to persevere in your pursuit to achieve it.  

However, as an artist, grit isn’t the only thing you’ll require in the new economy – also, you’ll have to be independent both in mind and spirit. External oversight hinders you in chasing your ambitions. For you to be a real artist, you’ll have to remove outside facts that control your work, such as bosses and superiors.



Also, Independence entails learning to refrain from external motivation. For you to prosper, you’ll have to become self-sufficient. The way you feel about yourself and your job either good or bad shouldn’t rest on other people’s approval. You’re the only critic of your work.

Lastly, you’ll have to become unresponsive to success and failure. Switch on the TV and you’ll see a lot of successful acts making casual music that’ll immediately be forgotten. Praise doesn’t usually show the real worth of what you’re making. Bear in mind that, because you’re not receiving a lot of credit, it doesn’t entail that what you’re doing isn’t good and great!


Chapter 5 – An artist’s worse foe is a shame; therefore, it is better to concentrate on connection and disregard criticism.


Superheroes can do almost anything; however, they often get an Achilles heel. Consider Superman and kryptonite, the alien mineral that suddenly seizes his powers. Artists possess their own kryptonite to deal with; although, it’s totally less exotic than a material extracted on far planets: shame.

Therefore, what makes artists really susceptible to shame?

What describes them is their whole investment in their creative efforts. Their work is extremely personal and amazingly significant to them. This is the reason why criticism stings a lot. Assuming your boss criticized your skill to take correct notes in meetings. You most likely wouldn’t bother a lot about it, right? However, think of how hard you’d take criticism of a start-up idea you’d been doing for months and deeply believed in.



Criticism is usually a manner of shaming people. And shame has been made use of for long to make people adapt to societal expectations. For instance, teachers usually attempt to control students with independent spirits who think creatively by shaming them publicly in from of their classmates. Also, society refrains us from chasing our dreams and being free by making us feel ashamed of what it mentions to us is arrogance or foolishness.

That entails that you need to have a thick skin and learn to disregard criticism if you wish to prosper as an artist. Nevertheless, shame will immediately hinder your attempts. Your only choice is to reject being diverted from your target by what other people say. What is the best method of doing that? Concentrate on positive connections and don’t look for negative appraisals and comments. Nevertheless, you only need a negative remark to make you question yourself.


Chapter 6 – For you to become more successful, you have to learn to identify opportunities by becoming more vigilant.


One time, the author Ray Bradbury provided aspiring creatives little bit of sound advice. He advised them that, the most significant of all, was to evade becoming stuck in one’s own mind. Being creative is essentially about engaging with the world instead of regularly pondering about it. Also, if you wish to engage, you will need to learn to truly view the world.

Therefore, what’s the significance of this? Well, success is essentially about identifying opportunities. But, mostly, we view the world with our own tunnel vision. We understand things based on our preconceptions, which clouds our decisions.

Consider the manner many people see new technologies. They bother about the manner these will transform the world for the worse and decide to disregard them. Eventually, they lose out on all kinds of good opportunities. Ask Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist who’s got a fortune from the back of viewing the world as it truly is. Understanding which manner the wind was blowing, he chose to invest in internet platforms such as Twitter, which became a huge success.



Other great illustrations are Editors Alan Webber and Bill Taylor. They understood that internet start-ups were future businesses and in 1995, they chose to establish a Fast Company, a magazine covering this new sector. It eventually became a big commercial success.

What these inventors have in common is an ability for identifying opportunities when they notice it. However, that’s not a thing they were given born with. They learned it by teaching themselves to be really vigilant.

Small things truly can make all the difference. Take it from author Paco Underhill, a man famous for his attention to information. While he was doing consulting work for a retail business, he observed that female customers were being delayed by other customers brushing past them while shopping. He suggested that shops extend their walkways. The result? A great rise in revenues!


Chapter 7 – Real artists are identified by their obsession with their own art and not with their social rank.


One of the most successful comedians in the universe is Steve Martin; however, truly, he’s not really funny. How is that possible?  

Well, art isn’t really about talent as it is about obsession. Martin is a typical illustration of this. Sort of, he’s an anti-comedian – he’s not really expressive or known for saying laugh-out-loud punchlines. That clarifies the reason why he used a long time failing at his selected career, usually traveling the country to do shows in front of only three to four people.

He didn’t allow that discourage him. He kept working his trade and obsessing over little information such as the perfect hand movement or instant to finish a sketch. Eventually, that work yielded good results. Due to his attention to the information of comedy, his non-comic aspect started being funny ever-larger audiences. He was funny just because he wasn’t a comic’s comic. Audiences began cheering him on, telling him to complete skits and finishing Martin’s lines for him. Progressively, he turned into less of a comic and more of an entertainer and host.

That only reveals that being an artist doesn’t usually stick to common stereotypes. Another misunderstanding is the view that you need to be a needy tortured soul for you to succeed as an artist.



Based on that image, the artist is an extravagant bohemian in shabby rags confronting conventional morality. However, like the deceptive notion that talent is important for success, this is a myth.

Consider the TED talks. The majority of the speakers are completely normal people, not eccentrics. At times, they’re even a bit dull. What makes them stand out is their complete commitment to making a difference in their selected areas. And that’s the characteristic of a real artist.


Chapter 8 – Writing daily will enable you to be more creative; however, keep in mind to be a kind boss to yourself.


Writers usually mention being “blocked.” However, have you ever observed that barely anybody ever suffers from “speaker’s block?” Speaking only feels really natural to think of not being able to pass the words out there. Nevertheless, everybody stands up daily, meets people and speaks with them. Conversely, writing is a totally different case. Putting your ideas onto paper is usually the bottleneck where creativity becomes trapped.

The main thing is to view writing as speaking. And that entails doing it daily!

You don’t bother about talking since it’s something you do spontaneously constantly. If you develop the routine of writing every time, you’ll immediately see that an empty page isn’t almost as frightening as it was before. As a matter of fact, your writing will adopt the exact features as speaking – you’ll find a flow and, ultimately, your personal unique voice. As they say, practice truly does make perfect. Therefore, make it a habit that you sit down daily and write on things that are significant to you. Better still, show it to the world and put it on a blog.

That same dynamic is useful to everything you might think of doing. If you’re a would-be filmmaker; however, see find yourself feeling blocked each time you hold a camera in your hand, make it a habit to film daily. Do that a lot, and it’ll turn into second nature.



This needs self-discipline; however, it’s significant to bear in mind to be a kind boss to yourself.

However, being your own boss is usually trickier than being another person’s boss. There are fewer restrictions, and it’s really easy to become much harder on yourself than anybody else. The best method of evading that is to take note of the manner you talk to yourself. Try to be positive and encouraging, instead of only being critical. For instance, indicate what you’ve accomplished and commend yourself, even if it is just a little thing.

Most significantly, stop saying to yourself you that can’t do anything! Do you recall Steve Martin from the previous chapter? That’s the type of boldness you have to adopt. Who cares if you’re not yet perfect– the thing that’ll only make you become better is following your passion persistently. As soon as you begin doing that, you’ll be ready to succeed in this present changing world!


The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? by Seth Godin Book Review


Art is essentially about creativity, and that’s a thing you can use in any field. Maybe you’re a would-be painter or establishing a new online boutique, creative thinking is what provides you an advantage in this present fast-paced digital economy. Computers can perform everyday work; however, there’s a lot of room for independent thinkers and creators with great ideas and the passion to follow them. Therefore, stop bothering about instant success or the consent of other people and put yourself out there!


Bear in mind that art isn’t usually going to be fun.

Anything it is that you want to make, there’ll be instants of difficulty, trial, and pain as well. However, don’t lose hope. These are the difficulties all artist experiences on his route. Accept them and concentrate on how much suffering you can tolerate. The important question you’ll have to ask yourself is if the final outcome is truly worth it (it regularly is). That’ll assist you to admit pain as an unavoidable of your life as an artist. As soon as you’ve internalized that reality, you’re very less likely to surrender your project.


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Savaş Ateş

I'm a software engineer. I like reading books and writing summaries. I like to play soccer too :) Good Reads Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/106467014-sava-ate

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