Years ago, I owned a cabin in the woods at Lake Arrowhead near Los Angeles. One of our first purchases was a player piano. Turn it on, and the keys danced and the music played.
One day, Kevin, the 4-year-old son of my law partner, visited our cabin for the first time. I turned on the piano for him.
As the music began, Kevin’s eyes grew wide. He heard the piano playing, looked at the white and black keys racing wildly up and down the keyboard, and said to me, “A magic piano. The kids at school are never going to believe this!”
I have experienced many moments of magic in my life—moments as simple as taking a deep breath of pine-scented air in a quiet forest, or leaving my office with a profound sigh at the end of a productive day. Moments as stirring as an evening on Broadway when Bernadette Peters seemed to sing “Send in the Clowns” directly to me. Moments as special as seeing my first daughter carried from the delivery room or seeing my youngest daughter married recently on a hillside in Marin County.
As Kevin sat on the small bench in front of the Magic Piano, he experienced enchantment. What 4-year-old doesn’t? And what 50-year-old still does? There is a line in one of my favorite poems, “Anyone Lived in a Pretty How Town” by E. E. Cummings: “…and down they forgot as up they grew.”
But my point is that you don’t have to forget. I’m still amazed each time I see a Boeing 747 take off. The first 747 that I ever saw was at LAX. My brother David, a perennial kid himself, said, “It’s so big because it carries really big people.” We laughed and, amazingly, the first folks off the plane were literally giants—the New York Knicks. My brother David never forgot to find the magic in all things. He held on to this gift his entire life.
The magic moments are out there and within you—all of them, all of the time. That is why I suggest you think of the Magic Piano, or whatever your own version of that symbol is, so that you can experience magic whenever you wish, whether at Disneyland or at work. There is no time or age limit.
Your life is filled with magic right now: the miracle of the Internet, your dog greeting you at home tonight, or a love letter to a friend (which you can write today). I received a love letter from a friend named Sue when I was 16 and carried it in my wallet for more than 50 years as a constant reminder of the magic. Five years ago I danced with Sue once again on her 65th birthday.
When you open your eyes, your imagination and your heart, those moments will find you and fill you with dreams, which are not so impossible after all.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a job isn’t any fun and that magic can only happen outside of work. I spend more hours at work than I do anywhere else and I encourage you to think of business as filled with all kinds of magic. Concluding a successful deal is magic—just as mentoring others is magic, just as working with someone you respect and admire is magic.
I have experienced many moments of magic in my business life, from opening my law offices and working 22 days straight to buying nine rental houses on the same day and depositing an $8,000,000 check at a bank (which had previously turned me down for a $35,000 loan). I’ve had moments as fulfilling as having a publisher accept my first book, which I had been working on for more than 20 years. Moments as exciting as the day when my first legal secretary told me she had passed the bar exam herself. And when I left my office recently, I realized that because I owned the building, I was actually riding in my own real, grown-up elevator. Magic.
Being a valued member of a team is magic. A friend’s long-term employee told him recently that she had inherited a lot of money.
“I’m happy for you,” he said, “but I don’t want to lose you.”
Together with 4-year-old Kevin, I am astonished by Magic Pianos everywhere I go. I encourage you to look for the Magic Pianos in your own life and work. Then you too can say, “The kids at school are never going to believe this!”
This was an excerpt from Alan Fox’s new book, People Tools for Business: 50 Strategies for Building Success, Creating Wealth, and Finding Happiness. Order today and receive free audio chapters, access to a free webinar and more.