You Are an Artist, Now Go Act Like One

We are all artists now.

That is the declaration Seth Godin makes in the opening of his new book, The Icarus Deception.

The Icarus Deception Book by Seth Godin

Your comfort zone says otherwise. Your comfort zone says:

“School taught me to keep my head down, raise my hand to speak, get a good job with health insurance and maybe, just maybe my 401(k) will allow me one day to make art.”

That is the lie of your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is the devil on your shoulder telling you that you can never truly be an artist. It tells you that your work doesn’t matter and that the art that is clamoring to leap out of you will always be restrained by societal pressures, bills to pay, and the ringing words of all those who have laughed at the dreamers.

If you are reading this post and haven’t awakened to the reality that our economy is drastically different than it was twenty years ago, I need to tell you something:


Our economy is drastically different than it was ten years ago. It’s probably going to be different in three years…or thirty minutes.

How we work, how we provide for our families, how we achieve career bliss, and how we get there have all changed in the last decade. They were already changing in the decade prior. And, as you know, the rate of change exponentially increases every few seconds.

We are all artists now. You are an artist. And artists are defining this new economy. (Click to Tweet)

The world needs your art, but it will not wait passively or patiently. The world needs your art, but it will move on without it. You want to share your art, but FEAR tells you not to.

mid-week-motivationFEAR tells you it doesn’t matter. FEAR says you don’t have time. FEAR beckons you to listen to the devil of your comfort zone. To be ordinary. To play it safe. To keep your head down, your nose to the grindstone, and to not fly too close to the sun.

But FEAR is a liar.

The industrial complex is a liar.

The lie is that Icarus flew too high and died. We’ve been told the lie that if we fly too high, stretch too far, dream too big, or dare to be different, then we will die. And most of us have bought right into it.

No more!

What no one ever told me and probably never told you is that Icarus was also told not to fly too low. The moisture from the sea would have ruined his wings too. We were only told the part that kept us down and subjugated us to forsake our art.

It’s time to fly. High.

Strap on your wings, my friend. FEAR won’t fly with you. It will only try to drag you down. 

The time is now. Take flight.

And share the view with the rest of us…because you are an artist.

Questions: How high will you fly? Have you bought into the lies you’ve been told?

NOTE: This Friday at 2:00pm CT, I will be recording a podcast on the Icarus Deception with Todd Liles and Dan Black. We would love to hear from you. What questions do you have about the book, art, or fear? What has been your experience with making art? Share in the comments below.

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  • I consider myself and artist….but without a mentor so it’s easy to fly low. Finding mentors are a challenge, ideas?

    • I can only tell you what worked for me Jim.

      I’m not kidding…I met with my mentor for the first time on Monday.

      Here is what I did.

      1. I prayed about it for the first time.
      2. I asked my circle of friends. They all suggested the same person.
      3. I asked that person. He said yes.
      4. We schedule a meeting within a few days.

      Is that easy for everyone? Probably not. But I had been “looking” for years with no luck. By “looking” I mean “hoping” and casually wondering and asking around.

      But when I determined that finding a mentor was THE most important thing I could do (it was), I found one.

      I hope that you do too Jim.

      Oh, and I forgot one step. Before Step 1 I determined who I wanted:

      A godly man who had been a Christian for 20+ years.
      Married for 10+ years with children.
      At least 10 years older than me.
      Had been involved in the business world.

      That was crucial.

      • Amen. good stuff.

      • Very helpful Matt. Thanks!

      • Wade_Thorson

        Thanks for the great suggestion, I have been thinking about looking for a mentor and had started a search but never found one. Now I am glad I didn’t pick the one I was looking at, I think you have defined a few key items to include when searching for that mentor that I hadn’t previously looked at.

    • It is a challenge Jim! Like Matt said below, the first, and most important thing is to determine who it is that you want to mentor you, the traits and attributes they will have.
      The next thing that I think is easy to do, is to jump at the first person that might be willing to mentor you. My recommendation would be to find 5 or 6 people that meet your criteria and take each to lunch once or twice. As you meet with them, ask yourself if you want to be like that person in 10 years. Taking time to pick the right mentor is much more important than getting one next tuesday.
      I also think, in some cases, you may have more than one mentor. You may have someone you talk to for business, and one you talk to for family and relationships. In an ideal world, that would be one person, but in the interim you may be able to have a few different mentors.
      Hope that helps, I’ve been working hard to be intentional about being mentored in the last 6 months.

      • Thanks Mark. Good advice!

        • glad to help…no matter how limited and useless the help may be 😉

    • This is a great question, Jim. I’ve been wrestling with that myself.

  • I’m glad to see your inspired post and your energy. Best wishes with this.

  • Great post brother. It’s so true, if we keep doing what was done ten years ago, we’ll fail. It’s a different world and we need innovation, imagination and determination like never before.
    This is one of my biggest frustrations with our school system…it is not even remotely keeping up with the changes coming, and because of that, we’re setting our children up for failure.
    And I don’t think there’s any hope of the school system catching up, it is up to us as individuals and organizations to teach, train, and mentor the next generation if we have any hope of them being successful!
    Thanks for the motivation my friend, I’m working hard to break through the conditioning and fly higher! Thanks to you and many others, I think I’m slowly getting there!

    • Be a voice of disruption in the schools Mark. I believe that you can change them there…and lead change elsewhere…if you are up to it.

      • I agree. But I also think that because schools are government entities in many ways and that means they are veeerrryyyy slow at changing and always behind the eight ball.
        I will definitely speak up and voice concerns, but Im under no dilusion that the schools will somehow all wake up and say “wow we should teach entrepreneurship and self reliance” all of a sudden.
        I’ve got a couple ideas to teach teens and young adults this stuff. we’ll see where it goes.

  • I’m hoping to fly high by serving in Guatemala. Last summer, I built a house through my blog. This year, I’m returning to the same community in hopes of building something bigger. I think I bought into the lies for a long period in my life (from my late 20s through late 30s), but this is changing. I have been encouraged to take flight again now in my early 40s.

    I’ll look forward to the podcast. What tips do you have for people who are afraid to try something new? How would you convince someone like me to step outside my comfort zone? And how have each of you experienced this in your own lives and careers?

    • Good questions Jon! I hope we can tackle those.

      Great stuff in Guatemala too. Wow!

  • I’m reading this book now and loving the challenge to beat fear to make better art. Great post.

  • Thinking of my work as art has had a huge impact on my perspective – first was exposed to that concept in Seth Godin’s book Linchpin. Great reminder – we are all artists (which gives us career security, btw) and the world needs our art.

    • I never thought about it that way…being an artist is career security. I like it!

      • Notice I said career security…not job security. The former is possible – the latter doesn’t exist anymore.

  • Great post! I seriously need to get the book. Because I AM an artist…and I need to start acting like one. {And be consistent about it…that’s my biggest downfall.}

    Was the podcast/recording posted somewhere? I’d sure like to listen to it.

    Oh, BTW, I found you via Todd Liles’ site.

    Be well!


    • Thanks for stopping by Michael.

      I will post the podcast on Monday so look for it then!

      We had a few technical glitches but the content is pretty solid.

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