The Icarus Paradox


Greek mythology was not really a subject that fired much imagination and curiosity at a Wolverhampton comprehensive, but the story of Icarus was clearly planted somewhere in my mind. It was Icarus who failed to heed his fathers advice and flew too close to the sun. Whereupon the wax holding his wings together melted, and as a result he plunged to his death.

I was reminded of the story of Icarus in the early 90‘s whilst studying for my MBA, and an influential book for me then was The Icarus Paradox by Danny Miller who described a framework for describing the dynamics of success, decline and renewal of companies at a time when all the academics seemed to want to knock the evangelical teachings of Peters and Waterman and their apparent formulas for success!

Icarus came back into view for me recently when I read an article about the need for people to have a coach if only to receive feedback that others were too scared to give them. Bit of a shame really if thats the main reason for having a coach!

The story of Icarus does provide us with a useful metaphor for us all as we come to the end of 2013 and embark on 2014.

What advice do we choose to ignore, how open are we to seeking and receiving feedback, and what do you want to do about it?

What might be the perils of that thinking as we go into the new year?


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