'Fly Closer To The Sun'

The tale of Icarus tells of a young man who flew too close to the sun and fell from the sky when his wings melted. It's a tale of caution, warning us to remember our limitations. Seth Godin, through a video created Squarespace, wants you to know this is a load of crap.

Knowing your limits creates a ceiling for your accomplishments. It's especially silly because you can't actually know where any barrier on your personal abilities actually lies. We find out what we're capable of by pushing those perceived limitations and taking the risk of flying too close to the sun. Sometimes we'll fail and sometimes we'll succeed, but we'll always learn from the process.

The Icarus Deception [Squarespace via Swissmiss]


    The video source is blocked at work, unfortunately, but if the description in this article is anything to go by, Seth Godin has badly misinterpreted the message of the story of Icarus and Daedalus. Icarus' story is about understanding the reality of limitations, and avoiding the dangers of over-confidence and over-ambition. It didn't matter that Icarus was confident he could fly as high as he liked, the reality was that with the equipment he had, he simply couldn't. No amount of confidence or feel-good 'you can do it' attitude would have changed the facts.

    Knowing your limits doesn't create a ceiling for your accomplishments at all. It's essential to know and understand your limits before you can truly overcome them and expand your potential. It's not just a matter of setting your sights high and then praying you have the capability to get there: if Icarus accepted the limit of his flight, he could have approached it cautiously, tested those limits and developed - through understanding - a way to overcome those limits and soar higher. Instead, his ambition and over-confidence resulted in his downfall.

    The lesson in the story of Icarus is as relevant today as it has always been.

      I'm not saying you're wrong, you've obviously thought a lot about this, but I think you're missing the point of what he's saying, because you're concentrating on a small mistake that he's made in the telling of it.

      I've heard Seth Godin speak on this topic recently on a number of podcast interviews, and he actually makes a very different point from what Adam says. He claims that in the original Icarus story, Daedalus warns him not to fly too high (which we all know) but also not to fly too low (which he says has been removed from more modern versions of the story).

      He's saying we are only told the first half because it's convenient for industrial society (because that's how they get millions of compliant employees working in factories). But it would be inconvenient/dangerous if people were told, "Don't fly too low!" because then they might be encouraged to take initiative, stop obeying orders, and do their own thing.

      So, in his opinion, the "deception" part of the Icarus Deception is not that you can exceed your limits, but that artificial limits have been imposed on you. His message is, "Fly higher", not "Fly as high as possible".

      At least, that's how I understand his take on it.

        Fair enough then. As I said, I wasn't able to view the video so I was relying on Adam's description. I guess I should have learned my lesson by now about trusting the Kotaku/Gizmodo/LH description to match the video =)

    If you [x] then you will [y].

    When x = something stupid, and y = die, then how is this a load of crap?

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