The one-sentence summary
It’s better to be sorry than safe, so ditch the old rules. Move out of your comfort zone, and start treating your work as art.
WHAT THE BOOK SAYS
• The old rules were to play it safe, find a job in an institution, and stick to the rules.
• Now you need to fly higher than ever in an economy that rewards art, not compliance.
• In the myth of Daedalus and Icarus, we know that his father told him not to fly too close to the sun. But the bit we are rarely told is that he was also told not to fly too low, close to the sea where there would be no lift.
• This is The Icarus Deception – in modern life, we mainly aim too low.
• The myth is perpetuated by industrialists who encourage an external focus – is my job secure and how much stuff have I got?
• We need more of what the Japanese call kamiwaza – stripped of self-doubt and artifice, we would be more ‘godlike’ – doing things for the purity of doing them.
• The assets that matter now are trust, permission, remarkability, leadership, stories that spread, and humanity (connection, compassion and humility).
• Operant conditioning is believing that the way companies do things is the only way.
WHAT’S GOOD ABOUT IT
• If you want to get something done, you have to ‘pick yourself’. In Japanese, jiriki is the monkey who saves himself, while the tariki is the kitten helplessly waiting around to be selected, which gets you nowhere.
• Here are six daily habits for artists:
1. Sit alone and quietly
2. Learn something new with no apparent practical benefit
3. Ask individuals for bold feedback and ignore what you hear from crowds
4. Spend time encouraging other artists
5. Teach, with the intent of making change
6. Ship something that you created
• Knights view the world as a series of conflicts with winners and losers. Gardeners look for ways to connect and grow the people they encounter.
• We never get Talker’s block because we don’t pay much attention to what we say. To cure writer’s block, just start writing, no matter how bad it is.
• A meeting is a temporary collection of people waiting for someone else to take responsibility so they can get back to work.
• An unsolvable problem is almost as good as a solved one – you can admit defeat and move on.
• Reverse Descartes: You are. So think.
WHAT YOU HAVE TO WATCH
• This is a call to arms to those who conform too much – it may well make them feel uncomfortable. If you are already enterprising, then you’ll just want to nod along to what is proposed, because you’ll already be doing it.