In The Icarus Deception, Godin pivoted to the subject of art. Not art like in a museum, but like creation. Your art may be painting, but it may also be business or leadership or activism or ministry or philanthropy. It is art as long as to you, it is art. Donald Trump’s 1987 Best Seller, The Art of the Deal opened with the following words:
I don’t do it for the money. I’ve got enough, much more than I’ll ever need. I do it to do it. Deals are my art form. Other people paint beautifully on canvas or write wonderful poetry. I like making deals, preferably big deals. That’s how I get my kicks.
What is Art?
Art, as I noted above, can take many forms, but it has a few common characteristics.
Godin wrote, “Art is personal. Art is untested. Art is intended to connect. Personal because it must reflect the artist. Something the artist believes or wants to say or do or change. Untested because art is original.”
Art is a bit dangerous. The artist does not have the same certainty as the factory worker. As Godin explained, “If your work can’t fail because it was never designed to connect, then I respectfully say you might have fun creating something beautiful, but it’s not art. Just as you can’t have heads without tails, you can’t have the bright light of artistic success without the scary risk of failing to connect.”
Art vs. the Machine
Godin explained that many people work in soul-crushing jobs where what they do is prescribed from moment to moment. They trade their freedom for a paycheck.
These working conditions were designed using a machine model that does not account for their humanity. For that labor, they are given a steady paycheck and a sense of stability, but Godin contends that this is no way to live.
He is right. God is creative and you are made in his image (Genesis 1:27). You are creative too and it is painful to be constrained in a system that curtails your creativity.
Today, you have the unprecedented opportunity to follow your dreams—to create what you imagine. But it is not all rainbows and unicorns. For that privilege, you have to take responsibility for your life.
There is no guarantee that you will be appreciated for your art, let alone be paid for it. Godin sees this as a good thing. He wrote, “The joy of art is particularly sweet, though, because it carries with it the threat of rejection, of failure, and of missed connections. It’s precisely the high-wire act of “this might not work” that makes original art worth doing.”
Your Art Makes You Vulnerable
When you introduce your art to the world, things change. It is your work. Your name is on it. It is not like every other cog on the factory floor. It is different. Because there is nowhere to hide, you are vulnerable. What if no one likes it? You are totally exposed. You are on your own. Godin wrote, “No cog in the industrial system chooses to do this. The system offers us protection, a policy, an excuse. To own the idea, to be responsible for the project…we risk being shamed for our arrogance.”
But that is OK. It is worth the risk.
What About You?
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. wrote, “Many people die with their music still in them. Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it time runs out.” Are you letting your art out while you still have the time? Or, are you clinging to the safety of someone else’s system?