Why the "magic wand" question is useless

"If you could solve one thing about your business with a magic wand, what would it be?"

This question is usually asked in a list of other questions, so it seems harmless.

But let's take a look at the underlying assumption. The assumption is, "If this one thing were fixed, everything else would fall into place."

I recently took a peek at a friend's survey and saw that people answered like this:

  • Meeting decision-makers who have a job opening for a leadership role for me.

  • I would wave the magic wand and acquire a critical mass of subscribers.

  • A pipeline of sales leads and users.

  • Figuring out my path and what I should be doing or focusing on.

Notice that all of these things are hard, rare, and take time to build.

The answer to the magic wand question is likely the hard part of what you're doing. You should probably spend 90% of your time on this.

For example, acquiring a critical mass of subscribers. This is what 99% of people on the internet are trying to do. So (a) don't feel bad if this is the problem you're facing, (b) thousands of people have the same problem, (c) and they're all trying to crack this nut.

"Getting users" is on every startup's magic wand list. "Getting handed a leadership role" is on every corporate manager's magic wand list. "Getting more clients" is on every freelancer's magic wand list.

These things shouldn't be seen as a nice-to-have tacked on to the real work. This IS the work. (If the idea of working on the hard part sounds painful and unbearable, you may want to switch to doing something else.)

The magic wand question can be helpful if viewed through this lens:

You have the choice to go on a journey to solve what you wish could be solved instantly.

If you ask yourself what you wish were different, it can help you see where to spend your attention to make the biggest impact. It might be a highly-leveraged spot that, once solved, could open lots of other doors.

If the magic wand part of your situation were fixed, a lot more people could be doing what you do.

Luckily, there's no magic wand... Now you can outlast everyone else who was looking for a short cut.