Seth Godin | How to Actually Use Your Free Will
Seth Godin – Dare to Fly
Interviewed by Tom Bilyeu, author and entrepreneur Seth Godin shares the story behind an ancient Greek myth that continues to fool us to this day. He reveals how you can overcome limits in your own life. Learn how to take advantage of every trait you’ve ever inherited and live the life you want to live.
The story of Icarus is fascinating to look at from a cultural perspective. It’s been around for thousands of years, we all know it. Daedalus and Icarus go to a desert island. Daedalus, the dad, makes wings out of feathers, gives them to his son, puts them on with wax. Says to his son, “Obey your father. We’re flying out of here. Don’t fly too high ’cause if you fly too high, the wax will melt and you’ll die.” And we all know what happened. Icarus got uppity, he had hubris, he disobeyed his father, and he died.
Except that’s not what the myth said in 1700 or 1500 or 1200, they changed it. It used to say, but more important, don’t fly too low ’cause if you fly too low, the water and the mist will weigh down your wings and you will surely perish. Took that part out.
Why do you think they took that out?
They took it out because the people in power, the industrialists, want us to fly lower ’cause it’s easier to ignore us, it’s easier to keep us in line, it’s easier to get a factory job that way. And I’m not a conspiracy theorist at all, but I do know where public school came from. And public school was invented by factory owners who didn’t have enough compliant factory workers, and it worked great. For 100 years we had this wonderful system. Do what you’re told, go to the placement office, you’ll get a job for 50 years. You won’t like the job, but you’ll be able to go home and watch TV, buy enough stuff, you’ll need a storage unit, and then you’ll die.
And the problem is that people are still seduced into thinking that what they’re supposed to do is fit in more. And social media’s made it worse because there’s this whole pack mentality of how do I fit in more with small bursts of, “Here’s one quick tip for a flat stomach” and, “Three different ways to get rich” and, “You can learn to flip houses today and be a millionaire tomorrow.” None of which work, right, but the combination of these two mean that people are starting to feel broken and bitter ’cause the problems aren’t being kept.
But what I can tell us is it’s mostly triggered by fear. Our fear of death. our fear of being alone. our fear of failure. So we invent all these narratives to protect ourselves from the thing that’s going to happen to us one day anyway. There’s a really good reason to be afraid, and if you look at a lizard or a wolf or a fox, they spend most of their time afraid, that’s why they’re alive. What makes a wild animal a wild animal is that they’re good at having grandchildren, staying alive in the wild. Well, we evolved from that and it worked when we were cavemen and in the jungle ’cause if you hear a twig snap and you don’t run away, that’s it. It’s over. If you’re in the circle in the village around the campfire and you offend the chief and they banish you from the tribe, you’re going to die.
And so there’s a lot of things that evolved for a really good reason about how we behave, and now they’re all wrong. That the thing that you’re trying to avoid, the saber tooth tigers or at the campfire, the opposite is true if you want to do public speaking, make a presentation, do sales, invent something new. The harder we make it go away, the more powerful it becomes ’cause it’s in our brainstem, our amygdala, it’s very powerful. So the alternative is to say, “Oh, welcome back. Thanks for letting me know I’m on to something.” And that narrative is something that we can learn to do and we can do it with fear, not without fear, but with fear because over time it’s like athletics, we can train ourselves to get better at it. And what we find is that as a parent, as a clerk at 7/11, as a third grade teacher, we could dig deep into emotional labor, not the physical labor of digging a latrine, but the emotional labor of sitting when we feel like running. Of whispering when we feel like yelling. We could dig deep and say, “In this moment I’m going to choose to be the best version of myself and seek possibility”.
And then what happens, more often than not, is the world responds by inviting you to play on a bigger stage. And it turns out that that’s a life, and you can live an entire life merely doing that. And so there’s an enormous amount to be said for accepting the fact that you’re going to die, accepting the fact that it’s all going to go away, what are you going to do in the meantime? People who have the hubris to dream of something bigger change the status quo.