The Icarus Deception - Seth Godin

The Icarus Deception - Seth Godin

Video Book Summary

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Book Summary Notes

The Icarus Deception

“Just south of the Greek island of Samos lies the Icarian Sea. Legend has it that this is where Icarus died—a victim of his hubris."

"His father, Daedalus, was a master craftsman. Banished to prison for sabotaging the work of King Minos (captor of the Minotaur), Daedalus created a brilliant escape plot, described in the myth that we were told as children."

"He fashioned a set of wings for himself and for his son. After affixing the wings with wax, they set out to escape. Daedalus warned Icarus not to fly too close to the sun. Entranced by his magical ability to fly, Icarus disobeyed and flew too high. We all know what happened next: The wax melted, and Icarus, the beloved son, lost his wings, tumbled into the sea, and died."

"The lesson of this myth: Don’t disobey the king. Don’t disobey your dad. Don’t imagine that you’re better than you are, and most of all, don’t ever believe that you have the ability to do what a god might do."

"The part of the myth you weren’t told: In addition to telling Icarus not to fly too high, Daedalus instructed his son not to fly too low, too close to the sea, because the water would ruin the lift in his wings."

"Society has altered the myth, encouraging us to forget the part about the sea, and create a culture where we constantly remind one another about the dangers of standing up, standing out, and making a ruckus. Industrialists have made hubris a cardinal sin but conveniently ignored a far more common failing: settling for too little.”

The Icarus Deception

Basically what Seth is saying in this first chapter of the book is that the risk isn't flying too high it's actually flying too low..

This myth is just a perfect way to describe what happens in society today..  

Many of us give in to the relentless pressure to conform to society..  Getting a 'stable job' and not being ourselves!

Too be clear there is nothing wrong with a stable job not everyone has to be a creative or entrepreneur..

But I think what Seth is saying is that if you're called towards something and you don't do it because you're afraid to fly too high you've been deceived..

With the safety nets that we now have in society the real danger is not flying too high but aiming too low!

Settling for a life where you are giving less than your best..  This is a very deep topic that Seth has been able to put forward in such an eloquent way..

Just the first few pages of this book are worth the purchase..  

Actually our next two topics come from the chapters before this one.. Just the intro!  Amazing..

It's Your Turn

“How Long Are You Going to Wait?"

"They told you to get your résumé in order, to punch your ticket, to fit in, and to follow instructions."

"They told you to swallow your pride, not to follow your dream."

"They promised you trinkets and prizes, and possibly riches if you would just suck it up and be part of the system, if you would merely do what you were told and conform."

"They sold you debt and self-storage and reality TV shows. They sold your daughters and sons, too."

"All in exchange for what would happen later, when it was your turn. It’s your turn.”

The call to arms..

Seth is pointing out a scary reality here!

  • The world doesn't owe us anything.. 
  • But it sure makes a lot of promises!

Play by the rules and you'll get 'the thing'..

  • Whether it's a nice house
  • Beautiful cars
  • New Technology

The thing they didn't tell us?  That it's all a made up game!

  • DO this and GET that..  
  • How many of us ever stopped and thought.. 
  • Do I really want to DO this?

Or do I have something inside me that's dying to get out?

Do I want to create something and leave the world a better place?

Do I really want to GET that?

Or have I just been sold on the ideas of what success looks like?

Am I under the illusion that they want me to be under?

Success Secret

“Your ability to follow directions is not the secret to your success."

"You are hiding your best work, your best insight, and your best self from us every day."

"We know how much you care, and it’s a shame that the system works overtime to push you away from the people and the projects you care about."

"The world does not owe you a living, but just when you needed it, a door was opened for you to make a difference."

"It’s too bad that so much time has been wasted, but it would be unforgivable to wait any longer. You have the ability to contribute so much. We need you, now.”

Hiding your best..

What is your best work, your best insight and your best self?

  • This is an important question to ask..
  • Are you hiding it from the world?  

Why are you hiding it from the world?

  • Are you hiding it because of the fear of failure?
  • Fear of what other people are going to say?
  • Or simply because you're trying to 'play by the rules'?

When are you going to get started?

  • Listen this life is finite..  
  • It's too bad so much time has already been wasted.. 
  • But you cannot wait any longer..  Don't waste anymore time!

Let me tell you a story..

  • Jenna one of the people who took my free coaching call was struggling with exactly this..  
  • She was a highly accomplished medical professional and did everything 'right' and had a very 'successful' life!
  • But she knew something wasn't right..  See Jenna LOVED baking! (and she was damn good)
  • During our call I asked her these questions..

Why are you hiding from the world?

When are you going to get started?

Happy to report that Jenna started her baking business and on the very first day she opened she got 4 orders!

Catch a Fox

“Build an eight-foot-long wooden fence in the forest. Lay out some bait and then go away for a week."

"The fox is too crafty to be caught in a simple trap, and he will smell you and avoid the fence for days. But eventually, he’ll come and eat the bait."

"At the end of the week, build a second length of fence at a right angle to the first. Leave more bait. The fox will avoid the fence again for a few days, then take the bait."

"At the end of the second week, build a third wall and a gate. Leave more bait. When you come back at the end of the month, the fox will be happily prancing in his safe enclosure, and all you will have to do is close the gate. The fox will be trapped."

"This, of course, is what happened to us. The industrial age built the trap we’re mired in, but it didn’t build the trap all at once; that took centuries to perfect. And we were seduced."

"Seduced by the bait of decent pay and plenty of prizes. Seduced by the apparent security of the enclosure. And once the gate was shut, we were kept in by the threat of shame, the amplification of risk, and society’s reliance on more and shinier prizes.”

Are we all trapped?

This fox analogy might just be the perfect way to describe how society has us all trapped..

  • From an early age we're lured in by the 'prizes' that Seth talks about.. 
  • Then by the time we see the prizes aren't what we really want we realize that we're already trapped!

Because we've been following the path for so long we don't know what it might look like to not..

  • They tell us it's scary and that failure is almost assured!
  • Then the primitive part of our brain tells us that failure means death..  

But as we've talked about a lot on this channel failure isn't death..

  • In fact failure is just a chance to learn.. Just a chance to get better!
  • With this re-frame in mind we can go out and do what we want..  Face failure right in the face!  And get better every single time..

Can you see the fox?

  • Where have you been lured in by prizes instead of trusting your instinct?
  • Where have you been trapped because the walls of fear and shame and guilt have kept you in?


“We evolved to desire safety. We seek out security. We want a hiding place, a dependable future, something we can count on. And yet."

"And yet the itch comes back. The itch to provoke or risk or stand up. The itch to test, to prod, and to stand out."

"For some the itch is nothing but a slight buzz, something causing discomfort in an otherwise bland day. For others the itch becomes so overwhelming that it overtakes them, dominating their day and putting their souls on the line."

"The itch has always been there, of course. It’s been there for generations, provoking Copernicus and Biko, King and Gandhi. It is responsible for our inventions and our discoveries and our epic failures. The itch led us to war and to electricity, to Ionesco and to Zander.”

Slight Buzz or Overwhelming?

Think about this..  if you're this far in the video you've got an itch to do something!

  • In fact you're probably here more for permission than anything! 
  • (If that's true the only person who's permission you need is your own)

Maybe the itch is just a gnawing feeling that you might like to do something different..  

  • Or maybe the itch is all you can think about.. 
  • Either case that itch that invention, writing or art demands to be let out!

But how can we do it when we evolved to crave safety?

  • Simple..  Make it impossible to fail!
  • First remember that failure is a learning experience..
  • Next make sure you're not doing the thing to get something else..
  • Then start as small as possible!  Gain momentum..

Art Not War

“Pressfield’s essential book about the resistance is called The War of Art. And the title is something that he and I disagree about."

"The resistance cannot be productively fought to the death. There can be no war on the resistance because you cannot win it, and starting a war you can’t win is foolish."

"Once I realized the cold sweat, the palpitations, the wily stalling, the insecurity, and the fear were part of making art, I was able to relax into my work. It’s not even a cease-fire any longer. It’s a partnership, not a war."

"When the resistance shows up, I know that I’m winning. Not my fight against it, but my fight to make art."

"The resistance is a symptom that you’re on the right track. The resistance is not something to be avoided; it’s something to seek out."

"That’s the single most important sentence in this book."

"The artist seeks out the feeling of the resistance and then tries to maximize it."

"The cog, the day laborer, the compliant student—they seek to eliminate the feeling instead. That’s the choice."

"Change your mind, right now. Not later.”

Seek out the feeling of resistance!

What is the thing you're most scared to do?

The thing you procrastinate on more than anything?

Something you know you should do but always make an excuse for?

THAT is the thing you should be trying to do most..

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