I happen to have met a couple of real life magicians recently and found myself fascinated by their craft and curious that I could apply image principles to what they do and how they do it. Last week I wrote about James Alan, Magician, and how his clothing dictates what kind and how much magic he can perform. We also found that because James practices traditional magic, he makes his image match his profession.
This week, I will again discuss modern magic in ways that you didn’t expect, and I will again draw parallels between a magician’s magic and the magic of image, but this time, our magician is not a traditional type.
Dan Trommater is doing something completely unlikely with his magic combining it with leadership training to help managers and leaders become more effective in their jobs at organizations who want a unique approach to leadership.
Freeing beliefs and assumptions
I met Dan at a business networking group a couple of months ago and I was fascinated by what he does and how he does it, wondering what a mix of magic and business would look like. The more I talked to Dan, the more I understood where he was coming from and found that what he does and what I do have many things in common.
First, our occupations represent the liberation of thought, belief, and assumption.
Magic, according to Dan, is a tool used to “involve audiences in a friendly, fun, and supportive environment that transforms them into 5-year olds by engaging their sense of wonder. ”
Doesn’t that sound nice? Tell me more, Dan!
“I like to open my keynotes with a magic trick that messes with the way the human mind thinks it understands the universe,” he says, “A member of the audience is invited to sign their name on their $20 bill which I make disappear. Next, they open a box that has been in full view the entire time and inside the box is a lime. We cut the lime open and inside of the fruit is the signed dollar bill!”
This is a trick that Dan performs in order to challenge the assumptions of the group. He asks the flabbergasted audience to write out their theories about how he possibly could have transported the bill to the inside of the lime. Members of the group then share their theories, showing that there is more than one way to look at things, and that there is more than one solution to the puzzle. (In fact, throughout Dan’s career he’s used at least ten different ways to get the bill in the lime, so he really believes in this exercise.) This type of exercise forces people to question their assumptions about what they understand to be “right” and opens them to other possibilities – this is where the magic happens.
Dan punctuates presentations with magic to lead the audience in the shared experience of wonder and gives them a glimpse into their child-like selves. His tricks challenge assumptions of his audience and they are able to experience reality in a new way, and this is really cool. I say that because I do the same thing with image work.
Altering the image challenges men’s assumptions about themselves, as they are able to experience themselves on several new levels. If a guy continuously wears shirts that are cut too generously, for example, he may assume that all shirts feel sloppy to wear, but when he gets into a flattering and properly fitted shirt, his assumption about fit and the experience of clothing has changed because he has experienced clothing in a way he didn’t know was possible. His world view has been altered for the better, and this is magical for me.
When looking for commonalities between magic and leadership, Dan saw that both were about engagement and vision.
“Magicians and leaders must address a diverse group and form connections throughout that group, align them to a clear, common goal, and influence them in such a way that the end goal is reached for everyone’s benefit,” Dan says.
In his leadership speaking presentation, “Think Like a Magician – Achieve the Impossible” , “you’ll learn how magicians are able to turn the impossible into reality and you’ll gain valuable tools for harnessing the potential within yourself and your organization.” And that’s what it’s all about, dear readers – enhancing what is already there (but so often buried) and harnessing the potential of oneself. With this, comes the magic of confidence which can move a man to unbelievable levels!
People like people with confidence; confidence makes us feel safe somehow. I think that confidence is the most appealing characteristic of them all (what do you think?). Some of you will have worked for people who were good leaders and some will have worked for people who were not so good leaders. What was the difference? Confidence. Confident leaders know who they are, they know what they see, and can communicate their vision to the people they influence. (If leaders were not confident, would they be leaders at all?)
I have seen my clients reach the goals they set out to achieve at the start of our work because they have seen themselves from a different angle and their confidence shines through. A new angle and a fresh perspective can change what a guy sees in the mirror, in his psyche, and how people are struck by him. It can be quite amazing.
Reality is subjective and one of the reasons that I like Dan is that he understands this. He understands it so much that he works it into his act.
Everyone sees and experiences the world differently and each reality is unique. With 6 billion people on the planet, that’s a lot of perspectives, but no matter how empathetic we may be, we can really only see things through the lens of our own perspective. Dan sees unchallenged perspectives as “baggage” that can keep us closed by colouring our decisions and clouding our realities (i.e. barriers, often self-inflicted but in place due to outside forces), so he tries to open it up during his presentations and loosen preconceived notions with magic to spark our sense of wonder and possibilities.
In this video, Dan illustrates the power of perspective, whereby the audience experiences the magic “trick” of cutting a length of rope and then restores it, while Brian, the stage volunteer, experiences the “magic” of the rope miraculously reconnected by magic dust:
Brian’s sense of disbelief is suspended from his perspective on the stage because he sees the trick from the front end; the rope seems to be actually restored by magic and as any 5-year old would be, he is delighted by this. On the back-end, Dan is actually showing the audience how the trick works by showing the concealed bits of rope to be cut without going near the long piece. It seems that not everything is what it seems.
And this brings me back to the theatre, the place of illusion, where we think not in terms of what something is, but what it could be. As a theatre designer, I must be able to see the potential of something when I look at it (like how shot polyester can look like linen on stage) and apply this to my work as an image consultant when I consider men. Because I can see what could be, it is my job to shift the client’s perspective so that he is comfortable seeing himself from a new and non-judgemental perspective, allowing him to experience himself, clothing, and colour on a whole new level.
Image work is truly magical in this way because it gives a guy the opportunity to see himself in a way that he has never been seen before, giving him a chance to appreciate himself and feel good about projecting a natural increased confidence.
Challenging perspectives through magic or through image work opens people to new and sometimes unthinkable possibilities, paving the way to liberation through unguarded wonder and the suspension of assumption. When we are open to change and open to learning so that we can become our best, that is our magic moment – grab it!