Seth Godin is certainly one of the most inspiring authors in the current publishing arena, as it stands out when you read The Icarus Deception, a lucid analysis of art, not just seen as performing or visual art, but rather as the CREATION of connection.
WARNING: do not read this book if you’re not ready to face your ghosts or the lies you’ve been telling yourself all your life because you were scared of being rejected, do not read it if you’re not ready to admit that you’d rather be unhappy and safe, rather than happy and taking risks, rather than facing yourself and showing your vulnerability.
Some of the main topics in the books are:
Attachment to potential outcomes and people’s judgment, especially if it comes from the so-called “experts”:
The art is too important for the reviewers to be indulged. Walk away. Let them be wrong. They are critics. Critics are always wrong.
Seth points out how attachment harms art creation (I remind you that, here, we’re not talking about visual or performing arts, but everything that can create connections and touch people), not only because a critic’s judgment is personal and not universal (despite critics themselves are used to universalize their opinion), but also because, if we’re attached to (and fear) others’ opinions, we’ll change our work, product, or service according to our fear and need for acceptance, affecting our creation and losing our authenticity.
Universalizing negative feedback takes the pressure off the critic. The critic is putting the blame back on the artist instead of taking responsibility for her opinion.
Three external things to remove to make art:
Control: letting the system control you and doing only what they ask;
Motivation: depending on external motivation to be the best we can be. We should rather take our responsibilities and find motivation within ourselves.
Approval: masses want what the system give them. We can do better than that but, in order to do so, the only approval we need is our own.
Everything always depends solely on yourself:
Even if you’re not self-employed, your boss is you. You manage your career, your day, your responses. You manage how you sell your services and your education and the way you talk to yourself.
We often underestimate and talk negatively to ourselves, self-sabotaging us. This happens because choosing to fail it’ easier than choosing to succeed (this way, “we’re all in the same boat”, “it’s not our fault that things don’t take off”, “it’s the recession”, etc); we’re often envious of those who had the courage to do what we didn’t dare; we often find excuses. If you want to make art, stop complaining and finding excuses: take your responsibilities and create the best you can do.
You are not a failure: just like we never say, “I am a broken arm” or, “I am cancer”, we should never say: “I am a failure”: these are things that can happen to us and, if sometimes we fail, it doesn’t mean we are wrong. We are artists. And artists know failure happens.
Always be grateful: no business blossomed in one night, and you have to invest time and energy into it to take off. If, at the beginning, you don’t have many clients, don’t get frustrated but be grateful for the few who came to you and believed in you.
Choose the infinite game: when you truly have faith in yourself and in your art, you finally stop being desperate and scraping the bottom for any job or client who treat you unfairly and pay you nothing, and you stop playing the system’s finite game with its limited slices of cake. When you stop acting desperate, you’ll find the right clients, who are willing to pay what you’re worth for your work’s uniqueness and quality. You finally create new things, new opportunities for you and for others.
There’s not much more to say here, but thanking Seth Godin, a wonderful soul who, with his books and work, is relighting the fire in the hearts of those who’ve turned it off but now are ready to fly.
“This is a lousy time to be an industrialist. A lousy time to hope for a reliable, predictable demand. A lousy time to expect to extract unreasonable profits by making average stuff for average people. A lousy time, especially, to be a well paid middle manager who does what he’s told in exchange for a safe job.
On the other hand, there’s never been a better time to have something to say. To embrace change and see the world differently. There has never been a better time to make connections instead of stuff. And most of all, there has never been a better time to make art.”
ARTISTS LEAD, THEY DON’T FOLLOW.
Remember this. And lead.