There is an intersection between doing your work by the letter of the job description and the creative genius who understands the true spirit of the task at hand. I’m going to call this intersection “magic” and it’s a combination of creative genius, passion, and a spirit of service that wants to leave the world better than where we found it. It is intangible, almost unknowable, maybe unteachable, and you know it when you see it. It is the customer service rep who is empowered to help, it’s the CPA who is more than a tax preparer but a trusted personal advisor, it is the teacher who is remembered thirty years later.
The people who count things are in charge right now. They founded Google, they run education, they are in charge of the money, the funding, and the paychecks. The counters don’t sell anything that can’t be measured, build anything that can’t be counted, or change anything without measuring first: they count. That’s what they do: they count and they pat each other on the back telling each other how profitable their counting is and how the world couldn’t possibly survive without them. They took over the world without firing a shot. They systematized everything, they measure us, our surroundings, and our habits. They tell each other that their research defines us. To them, we are series of data points and we are no more than members of a demographic. We are standardized, measured, and commonly cored until we are neatly folded into one of their labeled boxes. We are a world of clerks and barbers, cutting each other’s hair and keeping track of how many hairs fall to the floor before they are swept up. They assign us measurable tasks, from cradle to grave, we just check the boxes and move down the assembly line, living on their grid.
But they can’t measure magic. The magic is the creative spark, fueled by passion that ignites firestorms, sets off changes that shake the world and inspires revolutions. It is time for the magicians to come back; the world needs us.
They don’t quite know what to do with the Magicians, and I am writing about them in a new project called Magician or Mechanic. I want to help the magicians because some of us still resent templates, protocol, and standard procedure. We believe in the meaningful, not the measurable, the power of the untried over the tested, and the strength of the passionate improvisor.
What do you think, do you know any magicians? Drop me a note and tell me about them, I could use your help!
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