There's more than one way to arrive at a positive outcome and achieve success.
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Has this ever happened to you? You finish performing the most amazing magic routine of your career, complete with emotional hooks and theatrical arcs, and yet the only response from your audience is: “How did you do that?”
Some may see this kind of a response as a compliment for a magician, but I’m not your average magician. I’m not in the business of fooling people; I'm in the business of transforming people. My mission is to help you experience clarity, confidence, courage, and joy in your work and in your relationships, and one of the ways I do this is through demonstrations of Positivity Magic during my training workshops, keynote presentations, and coaching sessions.
Positivity Magic is magic that communicates principles and practices for choosing fascination over frustration in the face of life’s surprises, and it works so well because magic is a worthy mirror of the surprises that we encounter in everyday life.
For example, one of my favorite demonstrations uses two Rubik's Cubes. One cube is given to someone to "mix" while I attempt to solve the other cube. Even though my cube still looks randomly mixed, I triumphantly announce that I have finished solving the puzzle. Everyone is confused until I explain that we simply have to redefine what it means for the cube to be solved, at which point we compare my cube with the one that someone had just mixed up...and both cubes match perfectly! If you ever attend one of my presentations, I encourage you to look around the room at this moment. Everyone's jaw is on the floor!
Yet the magic of this demonstration is not in the effect itself; rather, it's in the takeaway. The people who often get the most value out of this kind of demonstration are those who tend to get so wrapped up in the details of life—filled with expectations and preconceived notions—that they lose sight of the bigger picture, not realizing that there's more than one way to arrive at a positive outcome and achieve success. This experience offers space for them to explore new possibilities in the face of the unknown and enact positive breakthroughs. Moving forward, perhaps instead of asking with frustration, "How did you do that?" they'll instead ask with fascination, "How can I use this to grow personally and professionally?"
A Simple Choice
If you or the people you influence are looking for more fascination and less frustration in your work, in your relationships, and in your everyday life, then this requires a simple choice, a choice that you are fully empowered to make. As Dr. Christopher Peterson, one of the founders of positive psychology, suggests: “Those who do the right thing are people who do not see others as means to ends, those who believe they are responsible for what happens to themselves, and those who are happy.”
There's a lot of truth in this one phrase to unpack, and for our purposes let's hone in on the second point, because it's foundational for shifting from frustration to fascination. When you sincerely believe that you are responsible for your experience of what happens to you, then you hold an internal locus of control, where you place the blame or praise for your failures and successes on your own efforts, motivating you to stay fascinated, curious, and full of wonder to find novel solutions to the unique circumstances you find yourself in.
Whether you’re frustrated or whether you’re fascinated, the choices you make today are preparing you for the future that you expect tomorrow. The question becomes, what future are you preparing for?
We can't always control the details, but when we take responsibility for our experiences and let go of expectations and preconceived notions, we come to understand that there's more than one way to arrive at a positive outcome and achieve success. So the next time you find yourself slipping into frustration, ask yourself this valuable question: "How can I use this to grow personally and professionally?"
This article was significantly updated from it's original form on April 21, 2020.
Jonas Cain is an educator, facilitator, and coach, working to engage, empower, and encourage leaders and the people they serve to experience joy.