Author Seth Godin (facebook@SethGodin, Blog http://sethgodin.typepad.com/), in his 2013 book: The Icarus Deception, uses the Greek myth of Icarus to illustrate the danger of low expectations.
In Greek mythology, Icarus is the son of the craftsman Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth. Icarus and his father were held captive on the island of Crete and attempted to escape by means of wings that his father made from feathers and wax. Daedalus warned Icarus first of complacency and then of hubris, asking that he not fly too low, nor too high, so that the sea’s moisture would not clog his wings, or the sun’s heat melts them. Icarus ignored his father’s instructions not to fly too close to the sun, whereupon the wax in his wings melted and he fell to his death into the sea.
Godin’s take on this myth is that our contemporary culture has overemphasized the danger of flying too close to the sun and we barely concern ourselves with fly too close to the sea. He argues that our schools, the media, and our workplaces have encouraged us to take the safe route, keep our heads low and not set ourselves up for failure.
His viewpoint resonated with me because I believe that we, people who provide services to individuals with disabilities, oftentimes set ridiculously low expectations for those we serve and or employ with disabilities. I’d be the first to admit to doing this. We set low expectations to keep our people safe, to protect them. In my own career failing has provided me with more lessons and motivation than my successes have. We learn to succeed from failing. I’d like to encourage all of us who make a living providing services to people with significant disabilities to expect great things from them. Encourage people to take chances and follow their dreams. Of course, we have a responsibility to ensure safety and security, but in the pursuit of attaining goals and pushing limits, I see no harm in risk-taking and occasional failure.
Agencies like JobOne offer a wide variety of choices for our employees, but we need to do much more to encourage greater opportunity and the chance to succeed and sometimes fail at something meaningful.
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