Thursday, May 9, 2013

Jante's Law (as described by Seth Godin in The Icarus Deception)




I recently came across "Jante's Law" in Seth Godin's book, The Icarus Deception. These laws were articulated in a book written by Scandinavian author, Askel Sandemose, about the culture of conformity of his hometown. Perhaps these "laws" resonate with you in some way... maybe through your family's unspoken code or the edict of your community when you were growing up. These were hauntingly familiar to me - echoing things that I heard some of the teachers say at the elementary school that my children attended, as well as the attitude that was expressed toward me as a newcomer to a very rural area that my family moved to when I was an adolescent. Some family systems hold these rules in high regard - especially when it comes to those who marry-in. In one community my family was a part of, the word "intellectual" was used as an insult...

According to Seth Godin, these rules are stilled acted on and taught in many cultures and schools today.

Jante's Law:

Don't think you're anything special.
Don't think you're as good as we are.
Don't think you're smarter than we are.
Don't convince yourself that you're better than we are.
Don't think you know more than we do.
Don't think you are more important than we are.
Don't think you are good at anything.
Don't laugh at us.
Don't think anyone cares about you.
Don't think you can teach us anything.

"And the bonus rule," according to Godin, "which brings shame and vulnerability to the forefront:"
Don't think that there aren't a few things we know about you.

Godin goes on to explain that this "indoctrination" insures that the freedom of creativity will be squelched in those who adhere. How sad.

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