Penguin Group (USA) LLC
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The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly? Kindle Edition
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I don't know how other people judge whether this book is good or not, but I do know that it was very good for me. At a time when I felt like the wax was peeling away from my own wings, in this book Seth helped me get back some of my lift.
We all love Pressfield's book and it's true that in Icarus Seth covers ideas he has hit before, but inside this book Seth takes us on a journey, of not just what it takes to fly, but to keep soaring higher and higher.
Creating remarkable art takes more than creativity and go go go. It takes the right guides at the right time, and that's what Icarus was for me.
His basic message is to create things you feel compelled to create, because that's your best shot at success in this new economy.
With the advent of the Internet, distribution is now basically free. In the traditional economy, everything was tangible and thus scarce. Customers demanded these goods, so value was created when you could bring these goods to the customers. That created lots of gatekeepers who would decide how to allocate their scarce resources: retailers charge slot fees, publishing houses pick authors, etc.
However, now distribution is free: billions of people are (mostly) free to connect with any of the others billions of people. It’s an unprecedented and amazing time for us, given how important connections are to us.
But because distribution is free, there’s a lot more noise out there. Curation is still important. How do you cut through all the noise and add value to other people?
The answer is that you do things that are valuable and are worthy of cutting through the noise. And the author asserts you do that in two ways: making a commitment to art, and getting good at that art.
Art, as defined by the author, is work that is new, real, and important. It’s using your gifts to make a difference in other people’s lives.
It’s operating without a map, exploring the edge of what’s possible. And, it’s inherently risky. You might fail. You’ll probably fail. There have always been “safe paths”, but those necessarily required you to follow a plan that’s not yours. And people usually have to give up part of themselves to follow it.
Instead, now today, we live in a world where you can create your own path. You can find and serve your customers wherever they are. But you need to find your unique offering, because if you just copy someone else, then customers will just go to that someone else.
There are millions of bloggers out there, but certain bloggers stand out in part because of their unique voice. We connect with them, we like their style and personality. But I’m not going to connect with every great blogger because some will just rub me wrong. That’s OK, because someone I connect with will rub someone else the wrong way.
When you can’t please everyone, that’s OK in the new economy. In fact, that is a differentiator.
One action item from this book is to recognize situations where I’m feeling internal fear/stalling/insecurity when creating, recognizing procrastination and subtle instinct to seek approval. Another is to remember that shame is a choice – you can’t feel ashamed without your permission, only if you agree it’s bad.
The major critique I have for this book is it’s way too long. This thing could’ve been 25% the size and still gotten the major points across. It meanders this way and that way. I’m sure he could’ve made more concise without compromising himself.
1. We've been brainwashed by the industrial complex to fly too low, to comply, to surrender our brilliance for perceived security.
2. That strategy once worked--our comfort zone and that safety zone we were offered were aligned.
3. They are no longer aligned and most aren't noticing. That's dangerous. The world tilted on it's axis and folks aren't noticing.
4. The new gig is to produce "art" in whatever you do (no matter what you do), because art "connects" and people want connection.
5. Everybody can be an artist at whatever they choose to do. You don't need to change your work or career. Just elevate your work to art.
6. But to do that you have to step over fear and the lizard brain (amygdala) we have that screams "you are gonna die!" if we attempt to do something risky and creative.
7. But you gotta do that because the world is waiting on your art, your connection, your breath of fresh air.
The bulk of the book is looking at the nuances of all this in about 88 different ways when you'd really probably get it after four. He's got a great theme and call to action, and there are some gems in here to be sure. But there are times when I was simply thinking to myself, "Really, Seth? I trusted you, and you are driving me around all the blocks in the neighborhood when just a couple would have conveyed the sense of the place."
But heck. Maybe I didn't get the "art" of this type of book. But don't get me wrong. I'll buy the next Seth book because Seth rocks and all. But, my goodness, this was the longest short read I've ever read, and I even just skimmed all the Kickstarter Acknowledgements that are a whopping 20% of the total length of the book. Would I recommend the book? I am glad for the gems I pulled out of it. But, honestly, after seeing the pattern, I was ready for the book to be over with. So the answer is, "It depends." If what you are looking for is a kick in the pants to get on with your "art," I'd recommend Pressfield's "The War of Art" instead. If you are not sure you are an artist or can be an artist at whatever you do, and want to entertain that idea, then this book might be for you.