Ask the Magic Question

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I have a confession to make: this has been a lazy week for me. Because of a combination of the holiday, travel, and some other nice diversions, I haven’t been as focused on business as I should have been. My guess is that you’ve been there too. Maybe not this week, but at some point you’ve been there. You’ve mentally “checked out,” and just like that, the momentum was lost. It’s like when you stop going to the gym for a few days, and then have trouble getting back in the routine again. When you take a break from moving your business forward, it can be tough to get going again. If (and when) you find yourself in that situation, there’s a question I want you to ask yourself. I call it the Magic Question, and it will get you moving in the right direction. And it’s actually pretty simple:

“What would a truly successful person in my industry be doing right now?

Now, before you get all bent out of shape (and for a few of you it might be too late), I’m not saying that you’re not successful. But we all slip from time to time. It may be for an hour, it may be for a week or more. But we all lose our momentum sometime.

Look, you know who the truly successful people are in your industry. I’m a professional speaker, and I know who the big players are in that arena. So today, well into my lazy week, I was thinking about going to see a movie. But then a variation of the Magic Question came into my mind: “Would Mark Sanborn (he’s one of the big players in my industry) take the afternoon off to go to a movie?” I just couldn’t see that happening. So then I asked the original Magic Question: “What would a truly successful speaker (in this case, Sanborn) be doing right now?” The answer: he’d be moving his business forward. He’d be writing articles, or contacting past clients, or networking with colleagues. In other words, he’d be keeping the momentum going. Needless to say, I didn’t go to the movie.

Newton’s First Law of Motion says an object in motion tends to stay in motion and an object at rest tends to stay at rest. Business momentum behaves the same way. When you do what the truly successful people do and keep the momentum going, you develop a kind of self-sustaining forward-moving energy. By the same token, when you bring the momentum to a halt…well…an object at rest tends to stay at rest.

My favorite role models, the Beatles, released three monumental albums (Help!, Rubber Soul, and Revolver) in a single 12-month span (August 1965 to August 1966). Talk about momentum! Most bands today would take up to four years to make any one of these albums. The Beatles kept the momentum going. Other bands of the day, when they felt tired or lazy, would have done well to ask themselves, “What would the Beatles be doing right now?”

It’s the Magic Question. And the answer, both in the Beatles’ industry and yours, is “moving their business forward.”


About the Author:

29-time Emmy Award winner and Hall of Fame keynote speaker Bill Stainton, CSP is an expert on Innovation, Creativity, and Breakthrough Thinking. He helps leaders and their teams come up with innovative solutions — on demand — to their most challenging problems.
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