We’re a real DIY family. We homeschool, we’ve remodeled our house, we run our own business.
We’re pretty much the definition of the “Can Do” point of view. Self reliance. Positive mental attitude. Mental toughness.
And, I’ve seen my can-do derailed and left in smoldering ruins when I start looking for my Magic Bullet.
Magic Bullets. The belief that, regardless of the problem I’m facing, something, some one extra-special thing, will come along and — Presto! — fix it.
It’s easy to see other people and their magic bullets — the woman who’s only one interview away from the perfect job and untold riches. The guy who knows if he settles down and starts a family that he’ll never be discontent again.
It’s even easy, in hindsight, to pick out my own magic bullet tendencies. If we can just get the house clean right now during spring cleaning, then somehow we’ll be able to keep it that way. If I can just get my inbox cleared out of email, then I won’t let it get this clogged up again.”
I doesn’t matter if it’s business, home, or school, life is dodging one magic bullet after another. Looking for the perfect piece of software or app, the magic curriculum or extracurricular activity. Sometimes, even without my being aware it’s happening, an idea creeps in…the idea there’s a solution out there that will tame the clients, make the fear of math go away, cure klutziness, transform an introvert to an extrovert.
And every now and then something happens.
Yes, sometimes a Fantastic Life Event leaves our family better off than we were before.
Yes, sometimes finding a really nifty piece of software or an app really makes an incredible difference in our productivity.
Yes, sometimes reading the right book at the right time makes a real difference in the way you plan your days.
When something or somebody like that happens, embrace it/him/her with gratitude. Fall down on your knees and thank a benevolent universe for bestowing small (or large) favors upon you.
But luck is not a game plan or a business plan, so don’t count on it happening again.
I often remind myself that:
- Magic Bullets are unpredictable.
- Magic Bullets are impossible to produce on command.
- Magic Bullets are always more magic in hindsight.
- Magic Bullets almost always come from somewhere else.
In fact, Temple Grandin is right: “There is No Single Magic Bullet.”
But if there are no magic bullets, what is there? Solutions. Solutions pulled from your own training, experience, and education. They aren’t magic and don’t come from somewhere else.
My best solutions come from me…and your best solutions will come from you.
Remember the story of the Gordian Knot?
In ancient Gordium, the capital city of Phrygia (in what is now Turkey), a man named Gordian wandered into town with an ox-cart and fulfilled a prophecy to become the next king. Grateful to the gods, Midas, Gordian’s son, tied the ox-cart to a pole with a knot so intricate that when the 4th Century BC rolled around, the ox cart still stood tied to the pole.
Because nobody had ever been able to undo the knot, legends had grown up around it, and people believed whoever loosed the ox-cart would become the ruler of Asia. When Alexander the Great came to Phrygia, he examined the knot closely, grabbed his sword, and whacked the knot in two.
I love this story because it’s such a great metaphor for thinking outside the box, for finding a simple solution in a complex problem.
On the surface it might look like Alexander had a magic bullet. But remember, he had already traveled a great distance, learned a great many things, and brought along his trusty sword. He found simple solution to a complex problem based on his own judgement.
He used what he knew and made do with what he had…and it turned out to be enough.
No magic bullets needed.