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The Mistold Legend of Icarus


It's an age-old tale, repeated countless times through centuries. Daedalus, the master craftsman responsible for building the labyrinth for King Minos of Crete, desperately needed to escape the island with his son Icarus. Things had turned for the worst with old King Minos and our boys had to get out of dodge, stat.

Using wax and feathers, Daedalus designed two sets of wings that would allow he and his son to fly as birds fly, unassisted by turbines or propellers and free to soar the skies with the likes of Superman. 

Once the wings were fitted, the father warns his son first of complacency, and then of hubris. Fly too low, and the sea's dampness would wet the wings, rendering them useless. Even worse, according to the older man, would be to fly too high, and allow the sun to melt the wax away and damn Icarus to a fall that would surely be fatal.

It is at the point in the legend that I find fault. According to the tale Icarus, overcome with giddiness at the unprecedented freedom of flight, ignores the warnings of his elder and flies directly towards the sun. Assuredly, his wings melt away until he is left simply flapping his arms, and to his father's dismay he falls to his death in the sea below. 


The story is used to teach about the dangers of over-ambition, and the folly of youth despite warnings from generations past. However, I choose to look at the tale of Icarus in a different light - I see Icarus as a hero and not a victim.

Here in 2018, the world is changing more rapidly than ever before. Technology has raptured humanity into a whirlwind of innovation and each day lends the opportunity for our entire paradigm to shift. But when you look at it bluntly, has anything really changed at all?

The absurdly over-criticized Millennial Generation, and Gen Z closely behind, continues to plow forward, heads down, forcing monumental disruption across culture, technology and business practice. Be it the refusal to be pinned down to the dredge monotony of a 9-5 cubicle, the insistence for the abandonment of centuries-old workplace misogyny, an unprecedented concern for our Planet Earth, or the development of internet-based systems to bring the human race closer than ever before; the world's young people are not only building new things but building a new way of life on this planet. And unfortunately, they aren't doing this with the assistance of their wise elders, but often in spite of them. 

When Icarus was granted the opportunity to fly, he understood the dangers that came with finding out just how high was possible. He heard the warnings of an older generation begging him to maintain a comfortable status-quo, and shunned them to reach new heights previously thought unimaginable. No man escapes the grave, yet how few actually risk sanity and comfort and even health to really, truly live? 

I would argue that today's youth are choosing, in ever-increasing number, to mirror Icarus and do just that. For isn't it better to use ever tool at our disposal to test the true limits of our human nature, forsaking outdated advice and cautionary tales to reach new places above the clouds of generational standards?

When thinking on this subject I continually heard Jim Rohn's words from his epic speech 'Why Not Now?' playing in my head. You can click here to reach the entire piece, or even better play the video and listen; but I'll leave you with a few lines from it:

My very last question on the questions to ponder is, “Why not now?” There never was a better time. What a time now for us to take this dream and not let it die. Take this dream and give it life. Take this dream and breathe into it your own personal spirit until finally it becomes a flame that burns around the whole world.

How else to achieve a flame so heated, than use the tools granted to us by generations past to fly higher than they ever considered safe or possible? Next time you're weighing a decision between traditional safety and unconventional outlandishness, do the world a favor and think of Icarus, the man who chose to burn bright for a moment instead of simply fade away. 

Leave some thoughts below if you'd like! Let me know I'm crazy. Give it a share if you'd like, or not I don't really give a f*ck.

Zack Holland is an entrepreneur, marketer and author based in wherever the hell he currently is, the CEO of the Holland Digital Group, and currently serves as the Chief Marketing Officer for the direct-to-consumer bedding brand cloudten.

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