J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter books turned out to be magical in ways that extended far beyond the magic possessed by the story’s characters. The book series has sold more than 400 million copies, been translated into 73 languages, set records as the fastest selling books in history, and motivated the New York Times to create a separate best-seller list for children’s literature.
But Harry Potter and company aren’t the only ones possessed of magic. While you might not qualify for admittance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, you do have your own brand of powers.
The question is: are you using them?
My client Nancy wasn’t. In fact, she’d unwittingly relinquished them.
She cancelled a long-planned day off when a co-worker failed to get a client proposal done on time. Despite having ample notice of her availability, he caught her as she was heading out the door and threatened to send it without her input. Concerned that in its current state the proposal would reflect poorly on their company, she unhappily abandoned her plans.
As I listened to Nancy express her frustration that this happened frequently and she had no choice but to do what she did, I was reminded of an incident with my niece and nephew.
Quite young at the time – two and four – they were happily playing together when suddenly Adam burst into heart-breaking sobs. Unable to resist the opportunity to be super-aunt, I rushed over and, as his older sister sat by smirking, Adam sobbed, “Alyssa stole my magic powers.” His tears dried up instantly when I explained she wasn’t actually able to do that. I believe he’s hung onto them ever since.
Even though no one explicitly told Nancy her powers were being stolen, once she believed she had no choice, she felt as powerless as my nephew Adam.
Unlike Harry Potter and his friends, your magic doesn’t come from a wand, a spell-book, and a cupboard full of potions, but from seeing your options … and exercising them.
In Nancy’s case, covering for her co-worker’s failure to meet his deadline was only one option. Once we began talking, she realized it was well within her control – her power – to have said “no” and let her co-worker deal with the consequences, or to have offered to do an abbreviated review.
Next time you find yourself getting ready to agree to something you really don’t want to do, pause for a moment to evaluate your choices. If none are immediately coming to mind, let the person in front of you (or on the phone) know you’ll get back to them in a few minutes. Then go ask a friend or a co-worker to help you brainstorm other options. You’ll be surprised by how many there actually are.
Your powers might be a little rusty, but once you start using them regularly it won’t be long before they’re second nature. And just like magic, you’ll find yourself living your day the way- you want to live your life.