Welcome to day 11 of my self commitment to write for 15 minutes each day.
Currently listening to “The One Show Stayed and the One Who Left” by Regina Spector on Spotify and wondering why we ever stop believing in magic.
I am returning home from a dinner with one of my favorite people. Two years ago she lost her mom. Her mom, Hellen, was an artist. You can see Hellen in my friend. When I arrived at the restaurant I checked in at the hostess stand and I said, “I am meeting a very charismatic and beautiful blonde woman, have you seen her?”. You don’t get that kind of charisma and charm without a wonderfully artistic and vibrant mother. It takes one daughter of one to recognize another.
When I first took on my current consulting role as the Film Commissioner for the City of Indianapolis I was such a believer in magic. I knew magic was real because I had seen it firsthand working on the set of Transformers and other various network television shows. You cannot be in the TV and Film business and not believe in a little bit of magic, it is the only way you survive. It is also what brings you to this industry in the first place.
So when I began figuring out how I was going to sell the city of Indianapolis to the film and media business I took a look at our assets and quickly identified our sales angle. While some of our efforts and deals are still being developed, in under three years we’ve done nearly $20 Million in economic impact. This is what we call magic; the belief that whatever you imagine is actually possible. I’ve got big scary plans for this city, so you know, watch out.
However, life can often chip away at your magic. It can steal your magical powers. Tonight at dinner I said to my friend, “You know, sometimes, people can’t let you believe in magic because they are too afraid.” And she said, “Yeah and, sometimes people can’t believe in your magic because they don’t even know what magic is.”.
Here is the thing about leadership and visioning and possibility and love. Other people who have either, a. not had any magic in their lives ever and did not benefit from a magically artistic and vibrant mother or b. have let other people commandeer their magic, they try to squash you. They sometimes do this without even knowing, they do it by saying things like, “I really am not sure about that. I think thats too ambitious. Let’s table that for now”, or “That’s such a nice idea, but we aren’t going to be able to support you.” They don’t understand that the only way magic really works is if you truly believe.
The true test of leadership is whether you can continue to believe in the magic even when no-one else believes with you. Do you think we landed on the moon without magic? Do you think Benjamin Franklin invented electricity without believing in magic? Do you think Aretha Franklin stood up for what she believed in and wrote Respect without believing in magic?
All of the things we benefit from on a daily basis are because people chose to believe in magic. Those packages delivered to your door at rapid speed? Jeff Bezos believing in magic. Your car starting at a push of a button? Magic.
I have had my dance with the devil where he has tried to make me believe that magic isn’t real. I don’t like him very much but he is really really good at his job. He tells me that my ideas are stupid, that it is crazy to think I can accomplish what I set out to do, he tells me I will never find the love I dream of or start the company that is in my imagination or finish my book. He tells me that magic is stupid and that I am naive and that if I put my heart out into the world it will get broken.
Well, the truth is that the magic he mocks is not that our hearts will not get broken or that we won’t face challenges, the magic is believing regardless of the heartbreak and challenges. The magic is enthusiasm for life. The magic is saying, “Yeah my heart got broken and it was hard and I fell down but I know if I get back up I can have magic again”.
Leadership is seeing the possibility and vision and driving everyone in that direction no matter what comes your way. It’s convincing everyone that magic is real. It’s convincing the sad and broken and confused and ignorant that it can be done. Everything you value, admire or respect is something that stemmed from a belief in magic. So, are you going to believe? Are you going to believe that you can do it? That it is possible? That even if your heart gets broken and you fall flat on your face that magic will be there on the sidelines waiting for you to tag it into the game?
Don’t get me wrong, it can be really really hard. Leadership is a lonely place but only because you have to champion the magic for everyone. You have to say, “Hey! We can do this. Don’t worry, we can do this!”. Even when you aren’t sure that you believe anymore. And you have to have those people in place that also believe in magic so they can say, “Hey, wait a minute, you aren’t believing right now, what is going on? How can I get you to believe again?”.
When my friend was an itty bitty little girl she asked her magnificent artistic mother if Santa was real and her mother simply replied, “When you stop believing, then the magic is gone.”
So maybe that is all it is about. Who cares if anyone believes you. Who cares if you are accepted or seen or understood, as long as you believe, then magic is real. And as long as you believe I guarantee you can convince other people to believe too. And when I talk about self commitment, when I talk about vision and possibility and grief, it’s me trying to tell you that the magic is still here, you’re just a little lost and the only way to see the magic again is to start believing. Believe you can write that book, believe you can get that job, believe you will be a mom or find love. And the pain you feel when you are rejected, let down, told no, pushed aside, it is because you let the other person define whether the magic was real! You gave your magic away. You have to understand that the strength and the power is in the believing.
Thanks for reading, what kind of magic is showing up in your life lately? How are your self commitments making room for more magic?