Some time ago, I read Seth Godin’s book The Icarus Deception. It’s a great read, and you should really read it, if you haven’t already. I just want to share one thing in that book that has really stuck with me.. It’s something I’ve mulled over and over in my mind. It’s something that has made an impact and a huge difference in my life and the way I do things. It’s about the story of Icarus.
So, many of us may remember the myth of Icarus – maybe even from elementary school when we learned about Greek mythology. The story goes that Icarus had wings made from feathers and wax and he needed to fly away to free himself. Probably the main thing we remember from that story is how Icarus had to be careful to not fly too near the sun. The heat from the sun would melt his wings and send him plummeting. It’s common in our world to be cautioned against this… against flying TOO HIGH… against trying to reach too high of a goal. You don’t want to put yourself out there too much just to find yourself tossed and torn and plummeting to the ground in defeat… or perhaps even worse!
The thing about Icarus that no one seems to remember, is that he was also cautioned not to fly TOO LOW. If he flew too low, the feathers of his wings would get wet, and he could get bogged down in the water and never find the freedom he was looking for. He had to find that space between the water and the sun – the sweet spot – to fly to where he wanted to go.
So, we can get into the philosophical reasons why our society might want to teach us not to fly too high, and never mention the part about flying too low, but that would be getting sidetracked. The real value in looking at this story (and being reminded about the flying too low part) has for us is a wonderful analogy about comfort zones vs. danger zones.
We often talk about how everything we want lies just outside of our comfort zone (in this analogy, the water). The problem is that we’re so afraid to leave our comfort zone because we confuse the boundaries of that zone with the boundaries of the danger zone (in this analogy, the sun). And even if we do understand that there is a difference between getting out of our comfort zone and entering into the danger zone, we may not realize that there is actually space between the two for us to fly! So, for fear of flying too high and into the danger zone, we simply choose to stay low, stay small, play it extra safe, and just hang out in our comfort zone.
Hear me on this. The sweet spot is all of that space in between the two. And there’s actually quite a lot of room to fly there. That sweet spot is where the magic lies. That sweet spot is where you get to dream… and then make your dreams come true. That sweet spot is the most wonderful space to travel in. It is also, in all actuality, the most effortless space to fly through.
Once you get the momentum to rise up out of the water… to lift yourself up and out of that comfort zone, it is really easy to sense where the sun is, and to stay below it. In fact, the trickiest bit may actually be in keeping your wings out of the water! But as long as you make the decision that you won’t go back there anymore, maintaining the flight pattern inside that sweet spot is really the easiest thing to do.
So, next time you are thinking about how everything you want lies outside of your comfort zone, but you’re feeling too afraid to leave it… remember that there is a lot of room to play between that comfort zone and the danger zone. Trust yourself. You’ll know if you are flying too recklessly and getting too close to that sun. You’ll feel the heat if you you are getting too far out.