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

Icarus-Deception-book-coverSeth Godin is one author, speaker, who I always enjoy to read or listen. So I was excited to pick up this book. And the added bonus was that I get to listen to Seth himself narrate the book on Audible.

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? By Seth Godin is a profoundly stimulating book.  This book is meant for you if you are bored with your routine job or mundane life and are looking for a different perspective towards the work that you do.


★★★★★ (5 out of 5)

The Storyline

The book’s premise is based on the mythological character of Icarus, who was told by his father while escaping a labyrinth, not to fly too high towards the sun lest his wings that were attached by wax might melt. He didn’t listen to his father and falls into the ocean.

The industrial complex around us has been using the story of Icarus to keep us in line and follow the ‘norm.’ A steady income, a safety net of health insurance, mortgage, etc. has lulled us in slumber for a long time. But now the world around us is changing fast, and industrial age is waning, so how do we cope up and stay competitive in the world?

The new way to live in this ever-changing world is to be an ‘Artist,’ and by author’s definition, each one of us can be an artist. A team member putting forth her views during a meeting, a waitress who is making human connections on her job, a successful movie star who shuns that world to do something ‘joyful’ that he wants to do, that has ‘meaning.’

Everyone, who chooses can be an artist but to become one, you need to step out of your comfort zone. You need to make yourself vulnerable and need to overcome the ‘resistance’  from your lizard brain (Amygdala) that stops you from taking the leap.

And most important of all you need your art to appeal to a set of audience. If you are trying to please everyone, then you are essentially building an industrial product and not a piece of art.

The book goes on to define what is considered as art, what are the challenges faced when a person decides to become an artist, how to align, or lull the ‘resistance’ and keep on working on your art.

Art is not repeatable and will certainly fade away, so you need to engage yourself in doing so continuously. But then when you are making art, then you do for the joy of it and not for the applause or likes of the general public.

The crux of the matter is that if you want to survive in this fast changing world then you need to differentiate yourself and your art can be that differentiator, and you will be agile even if the world around you changes 180 degrees, and not like that mammoth industrial complex which will get extinct in this changing world.

In the appendix section, some real-world examples are cited of people who are considered artists.

What I Think

Whenever you read or hear Seth Godin, there is always something similar that you get, there is always a familiar tone, and often the examples are pretty familiar or repeated. But that’s not a bad thing at all.

The points that the book tries to drive home are so important and relevant in today’s world. Millions of people around us (including us) are frustrated with the way the things are and anxious how they will adapt in the future world (or even in current one), for them becoming an artist is one pleasant way out.

Many of us are already doing our bit by changing the things around us, so we are already artists, and we need to keep on doing it lifelong without the anticipation of praise, applause or likes.

Success is not an outcome of art, but it could be a byproduct of it. And it is crucial to understand this. The joy of art is in doing it or in the journey itself.

The book helps etch these points in the reader’s mind in a manner where he starts to question herself and may drive some of them to take action as well.

The topic is complex,  yet Seth does an excellent job of breaking it down, making you realize the folly of current way of life, see the truth out there, show you a path and give tips how to tread that path.

The real world stories in the appendix also reassure that what the book describes is humanly possible and thousands around us are already living the life of an artist.

Last Words

Often we have a few good ideas in our head that need validation, we have some questions we can’t get the answer to or just need a push towards the road less taken. This book can do all of that and more.

And yet for some of us, who don’t understand they are already in a matrix (industrial complex), the book might sound like a piece of junk.

The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? By Seth Godin is one for the collection and is to be read and re-read when you take your first step towards being an artist, you are in the middle of it, you are failing in your path to be one, you have succeeded in creating art or moving on to the next one.

In today’s world, Flying too high is not that big of a problem Flying too low is.



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