Why believing in magic isn’t naïve, it’s genius
Let’s be honest, it takes a bit of madness to believe in magic. To believe in the unseen. The impossible, the unproven.
Whether you believe in the universe, wizards, ghosts, tarot, vampires, manifesting, or even God – you have to be a little bit mad to throw your head and heart into unrelenting faith in something you cannot prove.
Typically, magic gets pitted against science in the battle for proof. We humans like to be sure, and how can you be sure of something you can’t quite explain or prove? In life, and in business, looking at data and facts is an absolutely essential element in smart decision making and planning… but it’s not the complete picture.
I developed what I call the ‘Entrepreneurial Spectrum’ which highlights the opposites of entrepreneurs who are naturally inclined more towards facts and data – this end of the spectrum is called the ‘Method’, and those who are naturally included towards art and emotion – this end, I call ‘Madness’ . Most of us fall to one side or the other of this spectrum- and most of us are most comfortable with other people who sit on our side of the spectrum because we feel more belonging with people who believe what we believe. Both titles of ‘method’ and ‘madness’ are coined with love.
The merits of the Method side are rarely in dispute. In most of our cultures, most of the established leaders, governments and authority figures we are raised to respect, are chock-full of method. We’re programmed to associate the method side of the spectrum with intelligence, stability, safety, money and business. But today, I want to make a case for real-world merits of Madness.
As an artist, a writer, an extremely sensitive person and generally a fairly emotional and intuitive creature, I have always been steeped deeply in the madness category. As personality characteristics, as features of a human being – this has always been a source of pride for me. My madness made me feel special. But when it comes to being an entrepreneur, a business owner, a boss, I spent most of my career feeling quite ashamed of my madness, trying to force it out of me, cover it up, overcompensate and generally apologize for being the way I am. Like many artists I got the message loud and clear at a very young age that ‘artists starve’ and choosing to pursue a life or career as an artist would mean abject poverty. I have heard this same message so many time from my clients as well – as teens, sometimes even as children, we knew we had a choice to make: choose to take a gamble on the artistic skills and passions our madness had granted us with, or have a successful life where we would be able to provide for ourselves and our future families. It was a clear binary choice -either or. With that type of belief at such a young age, it’s pretty clear why most people don’t leave high school to pursue a career in the Arts!
But here is the REAL TRUTH about being a human who falls onto the madness side of the spectrum. Your madness is a gift. It fuels your unique genius. It makes you special and powerful and, properly channeled, it is ALSO probably the key to your financial success.
This won’t seem logical at first, because we have to slog through a lifetime of cultural programming, fear, shame and scepticism to allow ourselves to believe in our OWN magic, but the facts are there. Even if we skip over some of the obvious artistic genius we’ve had the pleasure to experience, the paintings of Picasso, the sonatas of Beethoven, the poetry of Maya Angelou, the
It isn’t just the arts that have benefited from madness. Most of our greatest scientific achievements, electricity, walking on the moon, man-powered flight, (more examples) would exist without a person who was accused of a bit of madness. Someone who believed in the impossible, in the never-before-seen. Someone who backed themselves despite failure after failure, rejection after rejection, and often, the constant criticism of their peers and mentors.
One of my favorite quotes is:
‘Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.’
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Really, madness is boldness. It is the unashamed pursuit of something that isn’t calculated or planned or – and therefor might lead to failure, nothingness or controversy.
Another quote along these lines that I love is that famous line by Jack Kerouac from On the Road:
“[…]the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!”
I am for the mad ones.
Recently one of my favorite mad ones, Ash Ambirge (who describes herself in her instagram bio as: Trailer park girl turned CEO. Hates fish. Writes things normal people are offended by:’
Said this ‘Be brave enough to cause problems. This is a big focus of my forthcoming book and a big part of the way I live my life. It’s the opposite of zen. It’s the opposite of all the feel good advice you hear. But, it’s important. A person who never causes any problems is a person who doesn’t trust herself to handle them.’
As an entrepreneur, pursuing madness means being brave. Rebellious. Not afraid of controversy… because madness freaks people out. Madness is not based in facts and data, it’s based in feelings and feelings are very confronting (especially to people who are on the extreme method side of the spectrum)- when people feel confronted, they’re not always nice.
Just as Ash describes, you have to trust yourself. You have to believe in yourself, and in my experience, that’s where most of us lose our nerve. Because our whole lives, the whole world has been trying to reinforce the belief that madness is not worth believing in.
It’s woo woo. It’s fluffy. It’s cute. It’s a hobby. It’s too competitive, it’s too risky, it’s too subjective… Why should anyone choose to pursue a career or build a business rooted in madness?
So I am here to tell you today, and every day, that the REAL secret to finding freedom and fulfilment as an entrepreneur – is to find, embrace and share your madness. Method is for businesses. It’s effective, but boring and it will only take you so far. If you want to be great, if you want to build a brand that matters, if you want to excite people, if you want leave a remarkable legacy, you need madness.
If it’s already running through your veins, you’re one of the lucky ones.
You’ve got the advantage, because here’s the secret that they don’t want you to know…
Method is easy to hire and delegate. If you’re totally mad and you need help getting organized, that’s an easy thing to pay someone to help you with.
If you’re all method, and you need help creating art, finding your weird and believing in magic, that’s a much tougher road.
I believe human-led brands will change the world. Most of the entrepreneurs who build disruptive brands that matter –Steve Jobs, Richard Branson, examples – they’re totally mad.
So if you’re mad too, you’re in good company. Your one job now, is to find your way back to that place inside of you who know who you are – the one that was wild and unashamed – before the world told you to get serious.
Your goal is to surround yourself with more tools and resources to bring you closer to the middle so that you can spend your valuable time channeling that magic, channeling that madness in to the beautiful, valuable parts of your life and business, because that is where you are meant to spend your time. Thank you so much for being here on the magic maker podcast. If you have a chance, we would love it if you would go hop on iTunes or stitcher or wherever you’re listening and leave us a review so we can help more and chanted rebels, change their life in business and the world. I hope to see you next time. If you want to reach out for more information like this or have conversations, we’d love to invite you to our free Facebook group, and let’s keep this conversation going. Until next time.