Leave Room For The Magic

You’re smart. Determined. Focused.

You’ve got a plan and you are working it like nobody’s business.

Just remember to leave room for the magic.

Magic: that little bit of stardust that arrives when you least expect it.

When it comes to creative work, it may be that you have to keep soaking on “good enough” to find your way to really good or—sometimes—the truly great.

And don’t try to tell me your work isn’t creative—I’m not buying it. We all have creativity inside us that we put in service to our daily life and work.

The financial advisor that pulls cherished dreams out of his clients and maps a pathway to get there. The consultant that brings stakeholders together and facilitates a solution. The coach that uses metaphor and story to show her clients new ways of looking at a challenge. Creative, every one.

Whenever I’m working on writing and strategy projects (which are, oh, about 90% of my time), I always face the fear that this time, the magic won’t come.

So I’ve learned to fight it. I do every single left brain thing I can think of to prime the pump. Homework. Research. Analysis.

And then it’s time to give it up.

To put all of those inputs in the back of my brain and go do something else. Heart-pumping exercise. Retreating to the kitchen to test a new recipe. Reorganizing a closet (seriously).

Absorbing yourself in something new allows your creativity to percolate and regenerate.

That’s what I mean by leaving room for the magic. For the inspiration that produces the golden fairy dust we all crave sprinkled on our projects, our work and our passions.

It’s refusing to be satisfied with the first go-round when it doesn’t seem quite right. Even when—maybe especially when—you can’t explain why.

You just know the magic isn’t there yet.

When I’m working on a project with a new client, I always add a couple of weeks to the deadline for that first deliverable. Because that first phase—from when they hire me to when I present the first draft of their Brand Brief and big idea—is pivotal. If the positioning isn’t exquisitely right, it will taint everything that comes after.

I build in room for the magic, trusting that it will come if I do the (non-negotiable) baseline work to create the optimal conditions for magic (if you have trouble doing your core work, read Steven Pressfield’s work on resistance).

So whether you’re writing your opus, consulting to clients or translating your genius into a training program—please—leave room for serendipity. For stardust. For magic. Because isn’t doing incredible work why you started your business?

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  • Rochelle, I love your advice on positioning:

    “If the positioning isn’t exquisitely right, it will taint everything that comes after.”

  • Magic is illusive, and sometimes right in front of you. One can never be sure if we are blinded by the glow of our own perceived genius and creativity. If that is the case, we leave no room for thoughts of other possibilities, the magic. We have to be grounded enough to accept there can be other ways that are better suited for the project we are working on. I admit this took me a long time to both realize and accept. Since then, I am better able to focus on the other side of the table and answer the “what if we did it this way” questions.

  • Robynn

    Ah ha! Perhaps this is why I tend to have creative breakthroughs after taking a break to practice the piano. Thank you for turning my previous label of “procrastinating” into “leaving room for magic to occur.” That has a much better ring to it 🙂

  • Magic. You know it when you feel it. Since I often work alone at my office when dong the “creative thing,” I often get energized by meetings and interactions with other professional and colleague. The discussions often give inspiration; it could even be listening to / observing others interacting; an “aha moment!”

  • I did a statement for a client today that reflected a a number of different elements including an email comment, “Down is Up and Up is Down” from a colleague on a planned joint ride with two others where I would drive instead of the usual colleague (who still is making the ride), a phone chat with a client’s staffer whose comments got included in the statement and my knowledge of certain rock music genres.

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