“Proud people breed sad sorrows for themselves.”-Emily Brontë
The brilliantly mad genius of Orson Welles scared the nation into believing Martians had invaded the Earth, produced one of the greatest films ever made, and hawked no wine before its time. If War of the Worlds, Citizen Kane, and cheesy 1970s wine commercials weren’t enough, Welles was also a world-class magician. Welles was so talented at prestidigitation, he harbored secret anxiety about magic. Sideshow magicians have long called what Welles feared, shut eye. The term is attached to someone so adept at weaving illusions, the performer begins to believe she or he truly possesses magical powers. It’s difficult to believe someone would wake up one morning believing himself or herself to be a spell waving wizard, but there wouldn’t be a term for the behavior unless it existed.
Anyone in business has a modicum of the carnival spirit coursing through their veins. We’re cheerful for clients and team members when we’d rather go back home and hide under the covers. Doubts are often swept away by a mental shot of “you can do anything” bravado. Those pick-me-ups are a necessary part of our professional existence. The danger comes when we become shut eye to chasing our goals at the expense of our family, friends, or faith. Did Orson Welles really fear in gaining the world he could lose his soul in the bargain? He had racked up more awards and notoriety before he was thirty than most of us will see in a lifetime. It seems more likely Welles’s trepidation lay here versus believing he was magical. The fact is, top performers sometimes begin to feel as though they are invincible.
When we become so prideful that our ambitions hold no consequences, the reckoning of a fall is likely just around the bend. The magic lies in moving forward with those who matter to you. Let those people in your life be your touchstone for where ambition ends and an ego-driven success at all costs begins. Open and honest communication and the willingness to be held accountable by your loved ones holds that key. Be sure you guard against the shut eye to that.
Shut Eye: Accelerators
- In what ways and at what times do you sometimes feel as though you are invincible?
- With whom do you have a loving, accountable relationship that you can leverage to keep you grounded?
- Have an open conversation with that person or people and give them permission to help you keep both feet firmly planted on the ground.
Dr. Jeff D. Standridge is the best-selling author of “The Innovator’s Field Guide” and “The Top Performer’s Field Guide.” He serves as Managing Director for the Conductor and Innovation Junkie, and teaches in the College of Business at the University of Central Arkansas. Jeff helps organizations and their leaders generate sustained results in the areas of innovation, strategy, profit growth, organizational effectiveness and leadership. Learn more at InnovationJunkie.com.