The MAGIC Formula – Insights from the Wedding Table, Part 4 -All Different

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

I have been working as a close-up magician for the last 25 years. I have entertained at thousands of events – hundreds of tables at weddings, corporate parties and significant birthdays.

At the same time, in the other half of my life, I have led and been a member of several teams. Recently, I have been interviewing many other team leaders about their experiences and challenges. Many thanks if you are one of them!

I have observed that many of the challenges facing a close-up magician approaching a table of guests are very similar to those facing team leaders. I have also realised that the MAGIC formula may be applied in both situations.

We have been around our imaginary wedding table and met all the characters. We have seen each personality’s unique challenges and how a magician might react in each case.
In these few posts, I make some general observations from working with the table as a whole to gain some valuable insights for team leaders.

Delightful Differences

As I travel around performing magic in myriad different settings, I am reminded again and again about humanity’s beautiful diversity. No two people are the same. Outward physical characteristics are easy to spot, but people are so different on the inside, too.

The more we can remember that everyone is different and the less we make assumptions about them, the less we will run into problems and become stressed out about their reactions or approaches. This applies to a magic audience; it also applies to your team members.

No Devices in Devizes

I usually perform relatively close to London and Oxford. My typical audience is pretty tech-savvy, and I now assume this as a given. A couple of weeks ago, I got a gig in rural Wiltshire, a little further from home than normal. A card trick I have recently developed revolves around the idea of contactless payments using your phone. It involves jokes about how we don’t use cash anymore. My regular clientele lap this up; it feeds right into their everyday experience.

Not so with my farming audience in Wiltshire! Very few of them used their phones to pay for anything. Cash was still very much king in their culture. I had made an assumption that meant my jokes didn’t land. I very quickly had to adapt my new trick to make it work.

Shuffled Lives

When I trained as a coach, we learned how everyone has their own “map of the world”. You understand the world differently to me and to everyone else. Our maps have been constructed over time through our unique relationships, education and experiences, and no two will be the same.

When you shuffle a pack of cards, there will never be a pack in exactly the same order ever again. The number of possible combinations of 52 cards is 52! (52x51x49x48…down to x1), a huge number- roughly 8 with 67 zeroes after it! We have each had many more than 52 influences in our life, so you can see that no two people will turn out with the same view of the world.

Maps and Cultures

Similarly, our personalities are all different. We have all found varying ways of coping with life, and that is OK. That is the fundamental lesson that I take from the Enneagram. Similar insights can be gained from MBTI and other personality profiling techniques. These type indicators also reveal that we react differently in different contexts, sometimes even appearing to have changed personalities!

And lastly, people have different cultural backgrounds. Some will be very obviously different to yours; others may appear similar. When we think we are similar to someone, we might be more likely to trip up. I have already shared my Wiltshire example. Looking more internationally, George Bernard Shaw is reputed to have said, “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.” We look and sound similar, yet we can be very different.

Teaming with Variety

Think about your team members. How are they different to you? Are you making assumptions that they will or should react or think the same way as you? What about their values? Are they aligned with or different to yours? Is it possible for your team members to recognise and respect their differences and yet sign up to a shared set of values?

Is it time to do some work on this?

You have a choice: you can pretend everyone is like you and be constantly stressed out, or you can celebrate differences and be continuously surprised and delighted.

Which will you choose?

Help Please!

I am writing a book about using The MAGIC Formula to manage yourself, particularly if you work from home.

If you are a freelancer, self-employed, or work from home in another capacity, I would love to talk to you.If you would like to help, please get in touch:
https://www.work-life-magic.com/contact/

The MAGIC Formula – Insights from the Wedding Table, Part 3 – Moving On

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

I have been working as a close-up magician for the last 25 years. I have entertained at thousands of events – hundreds of tables at weddings, corporate parties and significant birthdays.

At the same time, in the other half of my life, I have led and been a member of several teams. Recently, I have been interviewing many other team leaders about their experiences and challenges. Many thanks if you are one of them!

I have observed that many of the challenges facing a close-up magician approaching a table of guests are very similar to those facing team leaders. I have also realised that the MAGIC formula may be applied in both situations.

We have been around our imaginary wedding table and met all the characters. We have seen each personality’s unique challenges and how a magician might react in each case.

In these few posts, I make some general observations from working with the table as a whole to gain some valuable insights for team leaders.

Happy, Nuts and Indifferent

At a typical banqueting gig, be it a wedding, Christmas party or corporate event, there will be 15 tables. There will typically be 11 tables that really enjoy the magic performance; two that go absolutely nuts and shout, scream and cheer; and one that doesn’t want to see any magic at all.

Human nature being what it is, it is all too easy to focus on the one that doesn’t work, the one that doesn’t engage, the one that rejects what you have to offer.

Team Not Playing

It can be the same with a team. If you have been a leader in multiple different settings, or been a member of many teams, it can be galling to find yourself leading a team that isn’t working, despite your best efforts. I had an experience like this fairly recently. I took on the leadership role thinking that, with my experience and character, mine would be a successful term, and everyone would love me and applaud what I did. As it happened, largely due to factors beyond my control, it turned out to be a bit of a disaster.

What do you do in such situations?

Multiple Outcomes

When designing a trick as a magician, it is always wise to think about everything that could possibly go wrong and plan accordingly. That way, most of the time, the audience won’t be any the wiser if something doesn’t go the way you had initially planned.

You can do the same as a team leader. Spend some time imagining how each individual might react to a given proposal or situation and how you can handle each response. The more you do this, and the more experienced you get, the less you will be wondering what to do on the spur of the moment.

Time and Management

Sometimes, probably most times, things are beyond our control. We are in charge of our own reactions to situations, but we can’t control the reactions of others. We can do our best to influence them, but we can’t control them.

And influencing others takes time and attention.

What could I do if a wedding table is not responding to my offer of magic, or if the chemistry is just not there for that group? In theory, I could spend time with each individual and the whole table to build rapport and dispel their objections to watching magic tricks at that particular moment.

But, the thing is, I don’t have time to do that. I have 14 other tables to entertain. In the moment, I have to recognise that at that time, the jigsaw pieces just don’t fit together, and I need to move on politely. There may or may not be a chance to work with the table later. They may hear the enthusiastic applause of another table, or have finished their in-depth discussion about something serious, and invite me back to perform. Or I might get a chance to show some tricks to individuals from that table when the meal is over, and they have started mingling.

The same is true with teams. Sometimes you just don’t have the time available to build rapport with each member. You haven’t got the resources to sort out all the issues, or your position means that you are not the appropriate person to do it. You can’t control the reactions of others, and you can’t change their personalities. Your powers of influence will increase with reflection and experience, but they will not work all the time in every situation. That is OK; you are only human, don’t give yourself a hard time about it. Learn from the experience and move on.

Next Table, Please

Walking away from a table is difficult. My ego wants me to think that I can handle any situation, but I can’t. I have to remind myself that these things happen and that there are many more tables who will love what I do.

It can be very tough to walk away from a team. It is a dent to our pride to admit that something isn’t working. We have to make a realistic assessment about whether we have the time, resources and team members to make it work better.If we don’t, we need to face up to that, and walk away to another position where we will have a better fit.

Sometimes you just have to move on to the next table.

Help Please!

I am writing a book about using The MAGIC Formula to manage yourself, particularly if you work from home.

If you are a freelancer, self-employed, or work from home in another capacity, I would love to talk to you.If you would like to help, please get in touch:
https://www.work-life-magic.com/contact/

The MAGIC Formula – Insights from the Wedding Table, Part 2 – Ego

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

I have been working as a close-up magician for the last 25 years. I have entertained at thousands of events – hundreds of tables at weddings, corporate parties and significant birthdays.

At the same time, in the other half of my life, I have led and been a member of several teams. Recently, I have been interviewing many other team leaders about their experiences and challenges. Many thanks if you are one of them!

I have observed that many of the challenges facing a close-up magician approaching a table of guests are very similar to those facing team leaders. I have also realised that the MAGIC formula may be applied in both situations.

We have been around our imaginary wedding table and met all the characters. We have seen each personality’s unique challenges and how a magician might react in each case.

In the next few posts, I would like to make some general observations from working with the table as a whole to gain some valuable insights for team leaders.

Here Ego Again

An interesting thing happens when I approach a wedding table as a magician. I have to suppress my urges. That might sound a little alarming, but let me explain.

My instinct, when confronted by this diverse group of challenging personalities, is to bolster my self-worth and beef up my fragile ego. I feel the need to compete with Silverback Tarquin, Competitive Analyst Clint and Joker Jake. I want to get one-up on them. I long to look cool to Bored Ben the teenager and convert Timid Tina into a magic fan so that everyone likes me and I feel completely accepted.

If you are a team leader and are being particularly honest with yourself, those urges may seem a little familiar when it comes to your interactions with your team.

However, if we give in to these impulses we will not be serving our team in the best possible way. We always have a choice about how to react to any situation and we don’t have to follow our initial gut reactions.

But how do we make that choice, and how should we react instead?

Zero Sum Humbug

I have realised that I instinctively think that interactions with others are a zero-sum game in terms of status and self-worth. ie, that if they are lifted up, I am inevitably diminished. It’s survival of the fittest, and I need to be fittest. I am not sure where this Darwinian mindset has come from, but I have learned that, in most cases, it is a fallacy.

Instead, I have observed that putting others first does not mean that you won’t be first as well. The vast majority of the time, it just doesn’t work like that in relationships. The only exception might be if you are unfortunate enough to be dealing with a narcissist. However, in most cases, if you lift someone else up, you will end up being lifted as well. You are not going to lose out.

I watched a fascinating video about Bill Clinton on Tim Ferriss’ website. Whatever you think of his politics, his ability to focus eye contact on people and make them like the most important person in the room is legendary. And that ends up with both of them being lifted up.

Good Night Fight or Flight

Once we can acknowledge that social or work interactions are not automatically win-lose competitions, we can override the instinctive fight/ flight response. Our self-worth and our standing in the eyes of others will not be diminished if we concentrate on elevating others.

Increasingly I am coming to understand that our self-worth comes from our sense of who we are, rather than what do. And working out who we are is probably not best done in the middle of leading a team meeting or performing magic! Better to do it through reading, meditation, prayer, discussion and other reflective practices.

Purge the Urge

Can you take some time out reflect on your interactions with your team? Are you instinctively viewing them as competitive situations?

Can you overcome your urges?

Help Please!

I am writing a book about using The MAGIC Formula to manage yourself, particularly if you work from home.

If you are a freelancer, self-employed, or work from home in another capacity, I would love to talk to you.

If you would like to help, please get in touch:
https://www.work-life-magic.com/contact/

The MAGIC Formula – Dealing with an Entitled Team Member

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

I have been working as a close-up magician for the last 25 years. I have entertained at thousands of events – hundreds of tables at weddings, corporate parties and significant birthdays.

At the same time, in the other half of my life, I have led and been a member of several teams. Recently, I have been interviewing many other team leaders about their experiences and challenges. Many thanks if you are one of them!

I have observed that many of the challenges facing a close-up magician approaching a table of guests are very similar to those facing team leaders. I have also realised that the MAGIC formula may be applied in both situations.

Home on the Range Rover

The last person to meet at this wedding guests table is 17-year old Taramasalata. She is sitting next to her dad, Tarquin the Silverback, who has been ostentatiously boasting about his wealth and rich-person-type activities. Tara (for short) has been talking about how she has been learning to drive in her new Range Rover on the family’s second field and how it was such a hassle because they had to move the pony.

With my comprehensive school chip on my shoulder, I have a strong urge to slap her around the face and tell her to get a life, meet the real world, and wake up and smell the coffee. Who does she think she is?! She wouldn’t have all this if it wasn’t for an accident of birth and daddy’s money. How can she be so crashingly insensitive to the rest of those around the table?

Entitlement Resentment

OK, maybe I have painted an extreme caricature of an entitled teen. However, I am reasonably confident that those feelings of incredulity mingled with slight resentment are familiar to many people to some extent.

Do you have someone on your team who raises even a fraction of these emotions in you? You feel that they are only there because they are related to the boss, whereas you had to work your way up or get the job on your own merits? They come out with the most inane rubbish and have no real grasp on the real world. And, what is worse, you are stuck with having to manage them because they have ended up on your team!

What do you do?

Controlled Reaction

Is it even possible to Move, Attune, Give, Inspire and Connect in this situation?
Well, I think it is. It is not easy, but it is possible.

In life, in general, the only thing we can really control is our response to a situation. We can’t change what is going on in someone else’s head, and we rarely have much influence over most events in the world. But we can change our reactions.

Take Tara at the wedding table. My initial reaction is that I feel resentment and want to write her off. Not a great start if I am there to entertain!Neither is it a great start for you if you are there to manage a team member.

How to do MAGIC

So, what can I do to manage my reactions in this instance?

Move: What emotion do I want Tara to feel during and after my performance? I need to resist my desire for her to feel humiliation; I actually want her to feel wonder and a sense of experiencing something special with the rest of the table.

Attune: How can I understand Tara more? She clearly comes from a different world to me, but how would I be behaving if I had the same start in life and the same life experience? I have to acknowledge that she is not actively trying to be obnoxious and intimidating as she flicks her perfectly styled hair…

Give: What do I want to give Tara? I have to remember that I am there to serve,  as is a team leader. How can I be generous to her?

Inspire: How do I want her to behave or think due to my performance? Well, I would like her to experience being part of an audience with the other guests, and as a result, not feel like she is so very different from them after all. 

Connect: My initial reaction is that Tara is from a different planet to me. But is that really true? Within a couple of icebreaking questions, I can probably discover some points of connection, places we have both visited, or activities we have both tried.

As a magician, I have to go through this process very quickly, in a matter of minutes. As a team leader, you will have a bit longer. But the principle is the same. Your real challenge is to start with yourself, to take control of your own reactions and allow yourself to view yourself as the servant of your irritating team member.

Do you have a Taramasalata on your team? 

Identify the emotions they stir up in you and reflect on how you could modify your internal reactions.

Help Please!

I am writing a book about using The MAGIC Formula to manage yourself, particularly if you work from home.

If you are a freelancer, self-employed, or work from home in another capacity, I would love to talk to you.

If you are able to help, please get in touch: https://www.work-life-magic.com/contact/

The MAGIC Formula – Dealing with a Timid Team Member

The MAGIC formula:

Moving
Attuning
Giving
Inspiring
Connecting

I have been working as a close-up magician for the last 25 years. I have entertained at thousands of events – hundreds of tables at weddings, corporate parties and significant birthdays.

At the same time, in the other half of my life, I have led and been a member of several teams. Recently, I have been interviewing many other team leaders about their experiences and challenges. Many thanks if you are one of them!

I have observed that many of the challenges facing a close-up magician approaching a table of guests are very similar to those facing team leaders. I have also realised that the MAGIC formula may be applied in both situations.

Tackling Timidity

I have nearly finished introducing all the people on my hypothetical table of wedding guests. There are just two left to meet: Timid Tina and Entitled Taramasalata.

Timid Tina doesn’t want to talk or be talked to, doesn’t want to be the focus of attention, says she doesn’t really like magic, that she would rather not take part. She is married to Joker Jake and is the mother of Enthusiastic Matilda and Bored Ben. She has ended up being seated next to Tarquin the Silverback, which is not where she would have chosen to be in a million years.

Why is Tina feeling nervous and reluctant to take part? Who knows? Maybe she has had a bad experience with a magician before? It could be that she was embarrassed at a birthday party or she saw something that offended her on TV. We magicians have to live with this; we are all tarred very quickly with the same brush. It is unfair, but that is the way it is.

Sideways Strategy

It doesn’t work to try to combat this directly. Believe me, I have tried. It is very tempting to think, “Ah, but I am different, I will change your mind and you will end up loving magic. The way that I will do it is to involve you in a magic trick against your will and therefore re-align your thoughts and feelings about magicians!” Never a good idea!

You have to go at it sideways, e.g., I might say, “No problem, that’s OK, magic is not for everyone. Do you mind if I do some tricks for the others and you just watch?”  I have never experienced anyone saying no to that.

Then I would do my best to do a highly entertaining, non-threatening and uplifting job for the rest of the table. If I get it right, it will leave a positive impression of magicians on the previously magic-nervous Tina and will go some way to rehabilitating the profession in her mind.

Useless Theories

Maybe her reticence has nothing to do with magic? It could be that she had a parent who was always over-the-top gregarious in social situations, and she always found them intensely embarrassing when she was a child. Now she avoids being the centre of attention because she does not want to be perceived like that herself.

Or it could be any number of other reasons. The critical thing is, I don’t know, and there is no way I will find out in the few minutes I have at the wedding table. She may not even know the reason herself! Of course, I can have my theories, but they are not actually that useful. The only thing I can do in the moment is to respect her stated position, be sensitive and do my job as well as I possibly can. That way, I can’t make the situation worse for her, and I may well make it better.

Gently, Gently…

It is the same when you are a team leader. You may have a quiet team member who doesn’t want to engage in team meetings. There will be little gained, and probably much lost, by forcing them to contribute against their will. As with many of the personalities that we find a challenge, much can be achieved by getting alongside them outside of team meetings, establishing rapport and getting to know them one-to-one.

If you can help your team member to feel valued as they are and not under any pressure to contribute in the same way as other more extroverted colleagues, then the chances are that they will begin to feel more comfortable. Once this starts, you may see some of their nervousness falling away, and you may notice them contributing more. This is unlikely to be a fast process; it needs to be done steadily and gently.

Different Maps

As with any of the personalities that we may have on a wedding table or a team, it is helpful to realise and remember that no two people think, perceive the world or navigate their way through life in the same way. We all have our own maps of the world, and they can differ wildly. 

As a magician and team leader, I have to remember that I am there to serve, whether it be my audience or my team. I need to be humble enough to realise that I don’t have all the answers, that they will have different understandings and approaches to me, and that all I can do is influence. Nonetheless, it is possible to get everyone pulling together in the same direction to achieve a desired result.

Maybe with Tina more than any of the other characters on the table, it is a case of much more carrot than stick? She may be the quietest, but she quite possibly presents the most significant challenge.

Do you have a Timid Tina on your team?

How can you best serve them?

Help Please!

I am currently adding to my coaching toolkit by undergoing some NLP Coaching training. As part of the course, I need to practise my new techniques on willing volunteers.

The research involves a 30-minute Zoom call. I get some practice and you get some free coaching: win-win! Thank you to those who have already done it – much appreciated! Please let me know if you would like to do some more.

Please pass this on to anyone that you know might enjoy or benefit from it.

If you would like to help, please book in here:
https://www.work-life-magic.com/free-coaching/