In his book The Icarus Deception remarkable thinker and prolific author, Seth Godin, challenges us all to fly closer to the sun.
We all know the legend of Icarus, yet on the first page of his book, Seth identifies an aspect to the story that many of us don’t know.
In a bold plan to escape the prison of King Minos, Icarus’ father, Daedalus, crafts a pair of wings for himself and his son.
With the wings attached with wax that melts under heat, Daedalus warns Icarus not to fly too close to the sun, but, of course, as the legend goes, overcome with hubris the young boy soared too high, lost his wings, and fell to his death in the sea.
Stop Flying Too Low
The lesson we are taught from this story is not to dream too big, not to fly too high, but, as Godin points out, the part of the story that is often missed is that Daedalus also cautioned his son not to fly too low, as the sea below would steal the lift from his wings, and also lead to certain death.
Yet, that’s exactly what most of us do.
Fearful of flying too high, we settle for flying too low. Fearing what it means to stand out, we conform, doing the same things as everyone else, somehow hoping for a different result.
Godin implores us to see that our careers have changed, and putting your head down and working hard is the wrong answer.
“Your ability to follow instructions,” Godin notes, “is not the secret to your success,” and inside this wonderful book he encourages us all to see our role like artists, creating, and sharing our uniqueness with the world.
Follow Your Own Instructions
Even if that’s not how you perceive your career, the lesson still holds. To create a truly remarkable career and life, you must break free of the groupthink to cultivate different ways of thinking, and take different types of actions.
While we often perceive that flying closer to the sun requires great risk, even the grandest of plans comes together through a series of small steps, that are embodied in this simple two-step exercise:
1. Dream BIG. Bigger than big. What is your version of flying high? Close your eyes and imagine what this means for you. For a few minutes, watch a mental movie of you flying all the way there. Imagine what you are doing, who you have become, and most importantly, the feeling of soaring to new heights.
2. Focus on one step: From where you are today, imagine the one step that is now in front of you. Some of you might imagine that as a big step, such as your next promotion, and others might see it simply as the actions you are taking today. Now, with all the energy of reaching new heights, see yourself taking this step.
In achieving even the tallest goals, you don’t need to think beyond this, but to merely keep taking each step as it presents itself, step by step, flying higher and higher.
I recommend doing this exercise frequently (I do it daily), continuing to drill into your mind your highest vision for your life, and reinforcing your focus on CRUSHING the step right in front of you.