Jeremy Statton

Living Better Stories

How HIgh Will You Fly?

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The Myth

In his new book, The Icarus Deception, Seth Godin asks of all of us this question.

We know the story of Icarus. His father, Daedalus, was a master craftsman After defying King Minos, they were both imprisoned, but Daedalus developed an escape plan. He made them both wings which were fastened to their backs by wax.

Before setting off, Daedalus gave his son a warning. “Do not fly too close to the sun.”

As the story goes, Icarus become so intoxicated with his ability to fly that he forgot his fathers words. Flying over the sea, the wax melted and his wings fell off. Icarus fell to his death.

The lesson of this story, according to Godin, is one that we have been told all of our lives.

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.

If we pay attention to the story, and those that tell it, it would seem that flying as low as possible is the safe way to go.  Stay low. Stay hidden. Stay safe.

In other words, don’t dream too big. Don’t imagine more. Don’t challenge the status quo.

The Deception

And this is the Icarus deception. That flying low, playing it safe, blending in with everyone else, doing what you are told, is safe.

Our culture wants us to play it safe. It doesn’t want us to develop a newer, better way. It doesn’t want us to think and to experiment and to do things on our own.

According to Godin:

We’re so obsessed about the risk of shining brightly that we’ve traded in everything that matters to avoid it.

Godin wants you to fly higher than you even thought possible. He wants you to stop playing it safe. He wants you to shine brightly. He wants your to dare to do what the gods do.

And you soar higher, you stop fitting in and start disobeying the rules, by making art.

The Art

For those of you who haven’t read Godin before, don’t misunderstand what he means by art.

Yes, art is music and poetry and photography and paintings. But art is much more than that.

He defines art in this way.

Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another. Art is the act of a human being doing generous work, creating something for the first time.

A painter can copy the work of another, but he is no artist. A writer can churn out novels written based on a formula of what seeks, but if the work makes no connection, if it requires no courage on his part, it isn’t art.

You don’t have to use paint or a typewriter to make art. You can do it anywhere with whatever tool you choose to use.

But you have to choose it.

How do we make art?

  • Make connections between people or ideas.
  • Go where someone has never gone before, working without a map.
  • Speaking up when there’s no obvious right answer.
  • Make yourself vulnerable.
  • Caring about the process and outcome.

Art transforms. Art is risky. Art is generous.

This type of work demands more than following the rules. It demands more than playing it safe. It demands “bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness.”

Art is something an artist does. And Godin again argues that every one of us can be an artist.

Yes, even you.

Why You Should Make Art (And Fly Higher)

The answer is simple. You should make art because we need you to.

The world needs your contribution. The world needs your insight. We need to see the world through your eyes.

So, the question remains. How high will you fly?

You can leave a comment by clicking here.

About Jeremy Statton

Jeremy is a writer and an orthopedic surgeon. When not ridding the world of pain, he helps you live a better story. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook or Google +.

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48 Replies

  1. Angela Meyer

    Seth Godin has a lot of good things to say. Always challenging to go to a higher lever. Your post on his current book hits me right where I am – needing to take a step towards doing something new. Whether I win the book or not, sounds like one I’m putting on my add to personal library list.
    Angela D. Meyer
    http://www.angeladmeyer.com

    1. It’s great, Angela, especially if you are the kind of person who plays it safe or counts yourself out before you begin.

  2. lhoenigsberg

    Jeremy, this has reached me at a time in my life where I wake up excited every day about flying higher than the crowd and making a difference. You see, six years ago, I was told I had one year to live due to an “inoperable” brain tumor. I didn’t take that lying down, and here I am…since getting a masters degree and trying to fulfill my purpose in life. To that end I am reading everything I get my hands on, watching inspiring TED TV videos, reading blogs, filling my mind, and then going out and sharing it. What I want to do more of, is share what is coming from within me personally. That happens in my blog. I have been thinking about Seth’s book and now I am going to read it. Thank you.

    1. Wow. It sounds like your diagnosis gave you some freedom to live differently. Good for you.

      1. lhoenigsberg

        Hi…yes….the diagnosis was the “now or never” moment, but there have been steps…like after breaking my neck in 2000, I re-entered college at 51 and became a psychotherapist. LOL

  3. Such a good summary, Jeremy. Honestly, I don’t want to fly particularly high. I want to be Daedalus, making wings for others.

    1. Making wings is good. Very good.

  4. I am always challenged by what Seth has to say. This is no different. It really pushes me to explore further my burgeoning craft as a writer, to stretch myself and become the artist he speak of here. Thanks for sharing, Jeremy!

    1. It really does. Good luck to you, Chris.

  5. Jim Jacobs

    Jeremy, Although it seems easy to dream of flying high, actually flying high takes hard work, determination, and a willingness to go against the norms. In my journey, I struggle with determination & hard work. I find it too easy to work hard at my current job which makes the hard work for my dream seem so much more difficult. Thanks for sharing what is thought provoking, at least for me.

    1. It sounds like you live in 2 different worlds, Jim. One that is desired and one that i necessary.

  6. I dunno…it seems the lesson of Icarus is don’t be stupid. If your wings are attached with wax, it’s stupid to fly near the sun. By all means, find a better way to fly; replace the wax with something heat resistant, and fly high. But be wise in the way you go about it.

    1. Maybe better wings would have been a good option, but we don’t always get better wings do we?

      1. True. But I think making better wings is part of the flying higher; being wise in the way we seek to fly high and create art. (I’m sure my tendency is to be too “safe.”)

  7. Aidan Rogers

    I haven’t read any of Godin’s books yet (I know, right?) but this one sounds like it will hit right where I’m at – the precipice of fear and faith, of created and creating. Would love to win this book!

    1. I think you would like it, Aidan.

  8. I love the encouragement to fly above, higher than our imagination, and higher than what society believes. The encouragement to shun the norm, and strive to contribute what it is we have to share is great.

    1. Godin doesn’t say this because he hopes to sell books. He really believes we can all do this. i do too.

  9. I loved Seth’s book, “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?” I love his concept of “Just Ship.” I keep reminding myself I have to ship my “art.”

    1. That’s a great book, too. The Icarus Deception is a natural extension of Linchpin.

  10. Lee Ann Bower

    I too subscribe to Seth’s blog, had read years ago his book, “The Purple Cow” and was so inspired to change my thought processes regarding Sales & Marketing to my audience. I will reach new depths of creating ART and choose to soar this 2013!
    I appreciate the opportunity to hopefully be selected as one of the blessed recipients of his book!
    Thank You Jeremy for your inspiring blog posts as well!!!
    Blessings to you,
    Lee Ann
    KY

    1. Thanks for the encouraging words, Lee Ann.

  11. It doesn’t get much better than Mr. Godin. Love reading his stuff. Hope to win a copy. Thanks for doing a giveaway Jeremy.

    1. Good to hear from you, Tessa.

  12. Tyler

    Such a unique perspective! I’d love to read more about in a copy of the book!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Tyler.

  13. I could read this post weekly — everyday even! Making a difference, being an example of small or large steps and helping others grow, bam!! Thank you.

    1. Thanks, Deanna. We have to take steps every day.

  14. Harold

    How high will I fly? What a challenge, I chose to accept it and fly high!

  15. I plan to fly as high as I am able, although as someone has mentioned, that will take a lot of hard work and perseverance.

    1. And making art. I think that’s one of the keys. To do work that matters. We can stay busy doing stuff that doesn’t.

  16. I’ve already purchased the book so don’t enter me into the contest. I just wanted to say the book sounds amazing. It’s on my To-Read List and should be the next book I hit. Can’t wait to dive in and see what Seth has to say.

  17. As alluded to in an earlier comment … I’ve been going through a mental growth spurt (and spiritually growing as well, not quite wanting to call it a spurt :)). At the moment I’m flying a bit low because it’s gone public that I’ve resigned after 20 years with my current company and I’m in the phase where I’m helping others with their grief at the decision. I’m reminded that grief is exhausting. I repeat, e-x-hausting! But I have been lead to take this step to fly high. (Or more so, to not lose me, to not die out). Thanks for a chance to own the book Jeremy!

    1. Wow. Sounds like a tough but important decision.

  18. Daniel Davenport

    Jeremy thank you for challenging us to “fly high”. I must constantly remind myself to step outside of my comfort zone and “make art” it is one area that I struggle with on a daily basis.

  19. Getsa

    I was so encouraged to read about the encouragement to dare to do something different, not to play it safe. When the year began, I kept hearing ” dare to believe for the best, have the audacity to do something different”
    thanks

  20. Mike Petty

    Loved Poke the Box. It has changed the way I view my work in education. Looking forward to his latest book!

    1. Linchpin is really good too.

  21. Great summary Jeremy. I bought the book for my Kindle reader and will be reading it on a plane tomorrow.

  22. Dave Arnold

    Great post, Jeremy. I am currently reading Linchpin. I plan on reading Icarus Deception next. Thanks for sharing for inspiring me to want to read it even more.

    1. That is a natural progression. Icarus clearly flows out of Linchpin.

  23. Sabine Jung

    I like this statement: “We need to see the world through your eyes.” Thank you Jeremy for these encouragements

    1. You are welcome. I need to see the world through as many eyes as possible.

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