Making Miracles Happen

‘Tis the season for holidays, which means time for friends, family and loved ones...and of course holiday miracles. But what if the holidays weren’t the only time of year we could witness miracles?

A miracle is defined as a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency. If we can however remove the association with the divine or the religious, a miracle can be defined as an extremely outstanding or unusual event. The key term here being unusual, which just so happens to be relative to whatever is considered “usual” for the person experiencing the miracle.

Let’s explore this further...

I was recently at a charity poker game, and after playing for about an hour or so, I found my chip stack slowly dwindling away. I hadn’t yet to win a single hand, and despite waiting for my luck to change, it simply wasn’t happening. I was the guy at the table limping into each hand. I was waiting for the perfect hand to make a bet. Otherwise, I folded. I wasn’t bluffing. I wasn’t taking chances on mediocre hands. I was playing with no energy. I was going down the wrong path and it was time for a change. It was then that I remembered the old adage: if you want to change your outcome, you need to change your behavior.

So I decided to change my behavior. Rather than limp into the next hand waiting for the perfect cards, I decided to go all in no matter what the draw. My heart started beating. I found myself getting excited at the prospects. Here I went. I got a crap draw but decided to stick with my commitment. I went all-in. Boom: somebody called me. I lost. It was miserable to lose, but hey, at least it was exciting. I decided to re-buy and to go all-in again on the next hand. The table was now paying more attention to me. I was no longer limping along. There was more energy at the table. More action. Nobody called me, and I won the hand. Next hand, I went all-in again. Somebody called me, but I ended up beating their hand. All of a sudden I had far more chips than I did before I changed my strategy. I found myself getting better cards all of a sudden. And then I found myself winning more hands, too. Did I change my luck? Did I witness a miracle? Did I create a miracle?

I’ve always been fascinated with the practical steps it takes to create unusual outcomes (ie miracles) to usual situations. While the unusual outcomes don’t often seem tied to anything, I’m learning over time that they seem to really be a very logical outcome to a proactive change in an individual’s usual behavior. Let’s take a look at a few other situations and you’ll see what I mean...

I once worked with a recruiter who was very disciplined about hitting her activity numbers. She was so disciplined that this became her sole focus, almost overly focused actually, if that could be a possibility. While her numbers were strong, for some reason they weren’t converting to hires. There wasn’t any sort of logical explanation for this except that this happened to be the situation she found herself in. I didn’t know exactly what the problem was, but I did know that she needed to make a change, so I recommended an experiment. What was the worst that could happen given that she was not making hires, right? For the next 2 weeks, I asked that she go against her nature and cut her outbound by 3x. While this seems like an easy enough request, for her this was painful. At first, she treated this like a joke because what boss in their right mind would ask an employee for less work? She resisted for a few weeks more, but ultimately decided to give it a shot. The first week, she didn’t trust what she was doing but did it anyways. During the second week, she was still doubting the approach, but was starting to see some positive traction. On the third week, she made a breakthrough and had a few candidates at offer. In the fourth week, she made a hire, and continued to make several more over the next few weeks. Was this a random coincidence? How could doing less work possibly have contributed to a better outcome? But somehow,  it did!

There’s a running joke at Binc that more good things tend to happen when I go on vacation. Honestly, when somebody has a lot of candidates at offer or needs to break through somehow, it’s not uncommon for me to get a request to leave the office or go on vacation somewhere.

We all find ourselves feeling stuck from time to time. It may be stuck on a project, stuck in a job, or stuck at home. There’s no great reason for why we get stuck. Sometimes it’s a result of under-thinking things, sometimes it’s from over-thinking. Usually it’s from doing things the same way over and over again. Most often it creeps up on us. And when we get there, we usually look to make a change. If the change is aggressive enough, we tend to be surprised at the outcome and sometimes feel like there was a miracle.

But what if we didn’t need to wait until we were stuck to experience a miracle? What if things were going just fine, but we wanted the miracle anyways? What steps could we take to get there? Based on my experiences, below is a fairly simplistic set of steps:

Step 1: Identify your tendencies

Step 2: Pick a tendency and commit to doing the exact opposite. Spoiler alert: this will feel scary

Step 3: Abandon any regard for the outcome

Step 4: Do it!

Step 5: Watch what happens :)

Sounds easy, right Well it is, and it isn’t. It’s easy because you really only need to follow the steps above and you will create miracles, and you can create them as often as you like. It isn’t easy because doing something against your tendencies--and especially your nature--is really (bleeping) hard. Most people don’t even know what their tendencies are, and those who have taken the time to identify them, usually realize that they’re incredibly hard to change. But hard doesn’t mean impossible. It does, however, mean it’s worth changing them!

2017 is looking to be a year for new beginnings. It’s for sure a new beginning for our country, which will likely mean new beginnings for many other things. Here’s to making it a new beginning for yourself as well!