The Magic of Kindness 2 – Moving People

How do you apply kindness in business? 



Today I focus on moving people.

Maya Angelou said
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I have heard this quoted many times in the fields of both magic and professional speaking.

It is so true. 

A Kind Magic

I know very well that my magic tricks will be more effective if I can find a way to engage with my spectators emotions:

  • If I can get them to lay their hand on another spectator’s hand – I have seen an old married couple almost start weeping when they did this, they obviously hadn’t touched for years.
  • If I can get them to use a personal item – a ring, for example.
  • If the trick involves a personal secret – even if I never get to know what it is.

It is even better if I can empower them to feel like they are doing the magic themselves; there’s nothing quite like the astonished exclamation when a pack of cards transforms between a guest’s hands, or the look on a child’s face when they make little red balls multiply using their own magic.

Enriching Life

But how is moving people an act of kindness?

Well, whenever you enable them to feel something that enriches their life, makes them feel more alive, then you’re giving them a gift. Think about good theatre, good fiction, good film. These are gifts to us from writers, directors and actors. They make us feel something – excitement, passion, humour, fear, anger – they make us feel engaged with a story.

Emotional Buy-in

How does this apply to sales and leadership?

Well, in sales you might tap into feelings of excitement, of relief, of satisfaction. If you help someone to make a good buying choice then you are improving the story of their life. How can you paint a picture of this when you are selling? Can you get them to imagine how they will feel if they go ahead and buy from you?

In leadership you might make people feel encouraged, safe, supported. You build them up,  reminding them of their significance, making them feel like they’re part of a story. 

Everyone is a Volunteer

Michael Hyatt says, “Everyone is a volunteer.”

Obviously everyone who decides to buy something has volunteered to buy it.

But even in leadership, everyone who works for you, or follows you, is a volunteer. They may or may not be paid, but the decision to follow you with their heart is voluntary. Do you make them feel trusted, valuable, significant?

Enable, Give

Enable them to do the magic themselves. Give them the gift. Be kind.

Remember, they will never forget how you made them feel.

The Magic of Kindness – 1

The first President of The Magic Circle was a splendid chap called David Devant. He had a well known saying:

“All done by kindness”

There is a wonderful Devant poster featuring this quote on display at The Magic Circle headquarters in London. If you ever get a chance to visit, I thoroughly recommend it. Obviously you will have to wait until after the lockdown…

The Best Business Attitude

Devant was talking about show business, the magic business in particular, but “All done by kindness” is a fantastic mantra for business in general.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that kindness is the most valuable attitude you can have in business.

It feels appropriate that this is the week I start my mini-series on kindness in business. This is Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK and the Mental Health Foundation have chosen kindness as the theme for the week.

Practical Magic

To my mind, kindness is not an airy-fairy concept. It is intensely practical. Kindness is an attitude, kindness is a choice, it is a determination to put yourself out for the good of others.

How does this translate into a business context?

It might seem a bit “soft” – surely business is hard-nosed, cut-throat, winner takes all.

Maybe it was, once? Or maybe that is just a myth? 

It’s a Kind Magic

What is important is that business is all about relationships, and kindness supercharges relationships. 

In this series I will explore what kindness might look like specifically in the areas of Sales and Leadership.

I will explore the Magic of Kindness:

Moving people
Attuning to people
Giving to people
Inspiring people
Connecting to people

The More You Do It…

I can tell you from experience that the more you practice magic performance, the better you get.

The same is true of the Magic of Kindness.

Focus in Confusing Times

Tricks in a Bucket

When I was younger I had a magic and circus tricks bucket list. Tricks that I loved and wanted to be able to perform one day. When I first saw others doing them, they looked impossible.

One of them was a straitjacket escape. I used to go down to Covent Garden and watch the street performers thinking, “I could never do that.” And now I do, I learned it in my 20’s.

Another is a one-handed riffle shuffle. I had seen several magicians do it at The Magic Circle over the last couple of years and thought that it looked knuckle-crunchingly impossible. However, after three weeks of lockdown, I could do it.

However, there are other tricks that I could never do.  At one point I dreamed of becoming an aerial artist with Cirque du Soleil. That was never going to happen and certainly isn’t now!

Some things we can achieve, some we can’t. Sometimes it is not obvious which is which, but it is worth spending some time thinking about what is and isn’t possible for us.

All Change

I was reminded recently by Antoinette Dale Henderson at a PSA event of the Kübler-Ross Change Curve. We’re all solidly on this curve at the moment because we have all faced a significant recent change. My guess is that most of us are oscillating between the bottom of the curve and the beginning of the ascent out of it, between Depression/ Confusion through Experiment to Decision. I doubt that many of us have reached Integration yet.

This is fine, this is natural, don’t beat yourself up about it. We all have to find a way up the curve that suits us. 

“I can’t change world, but I can change the world in me” (Bono, U2 in “Rejoice” )

I have long been a fan of Stephen Covey, ever since I read 7 Habits of Highly Successful People (#ad)  years ago.

One of my favourite concepts in that book is the “Circles of Concern and Influence”. You may find this easier to visualise if you picture a toilet roll that you may or may not have hoarded a few weeks ago.

The outer diameter of the toilet roll is your circle of concern. The stuff that worries you. If you spend a lot of time on social media and/ or watching the news, that circle will be quite big. 

The inside circle is your circle of influence. The stuff you can do something about. Areas where you can make a difference. This will be smaller than the circle of concern. 

Find your Inner Space, Man

Whenever we focus on anything, it takes time, energy and mental space.

Covey’s brilliant insight is that we benefit from focussing on our circle of influence and not our circle of concern. Watch the news less, spend less time on social media. This will reduce the size of our circle of concern. Focus on the things we can change. If we focus on our circle of influence we will find that it grows bigger and starts to eat up the inside bit of the circle of concern.

As we do this we should feel more energised and less stressed. Yes, we will have bad days and good days. But we will be starting to climb the curve.

Work out which tricks you might be able to do and focus on learning those.

Predicting the Future

Psst, I can predict the future…

OK, I can only predict the future in certain situations.

One of my favourite magic routines to perform involves predicting the wording of a randomly selected line from a newspaper. Sadly, I don’t get to perform it much at moment, although I did manage to adapt it successfully to perform over Zoom for a business meeting, using a couple of pdf’s emailed to spectators.

But none of can predict the future when it comes to the end of the lockdown. All we can do is guess and hope for the best.

Or is it?

Ready for Anything

One thing is certain in magic – you can never be completely certain about how a trick will work in front of a live audience. Something might go wrong with a prop, you might mess up a move or forget a line, the audience may not react as expected. A skilled magician will imagine possible outcomes and plan for as many of them as is feasible. That way they will be prepared and can carry on seamlessly as if nothing unusual had happened. Most of the time, the audience will not even notice.

Scenario Planning

Big organisations and governments do the same thing. They have whole departments devoted to scenario planning. 

Most of us have probably got through life and work with a plan A and a plan B. But maybe, in the face of uncertainty, it may be useful for all of us to do a little more extensive intentional scenario planning?

I was on business networking call with the wonderful Kate Trafford last week and she voiced a very useful question: “When I look back, what would I have done differently if I had known that this would last 18 months?”

Kate was anxious to point out that this is imagining a worst-case scenario – hopefully the lockdown will be over much sooner, but some businesses may take longer to recover, eg, live entertainment, conferences, sporting events.

Crystal Balls of Steel

At first the idea of scenario planning is scary. You have to imagine worst-case scenarios. Often it is tempting to bury our heads in the sand. Or Netflix. 

However, like taking foul-tasting medicine, it can only be good for us. It will reduce nasty shocks and surprises down the road. Better to face reality, take stock and then begin the next step of the journey from where we actually are, having a realistic guess at what might possibly lie ahead.

The Next Step is Thinking About the Next Step

Have a think about your work and life.

What might it look like if the lockdown ends in a week’s time or a month’s time? What if it is a staggered ending, eg, with social distancing. What would those scenarios mean for my work life and my personal life? And then do the same exercise for different time frames – 3 months, 6 months, a year.

Then, if the trick doesn’t work like you planned it, you have something up your sleeve. The audience probably won’t even notice.