There is a simple truth that many of us forget about: today, we live in a world of the greatest opportunity. By the mere fact that you can read this post, I know that you have the ability to lead a life that your ancestors never even dreamed of. There are still people being without access to these opportunities, but they are coming fewer. Recently, I read of a computer center built in a refugee camp that made online work available to people who were forced away from subsistence-level farming.
In the grand scheme of things, a subsistence-level life is something we have only missed by the narrowest of margins. Millions of other human beings were born at times when the only life they could look forward to was scrapping a short life from the dirt around them. In my family, that life was as close as my great grandparents — in yours, that life may be as close as your parents’ generation. But today, if you have access to this post, I know you have the opportunity to literally live any life you want. You may not have the drive to turn an internet connection you access at the local library into a career that brings you wealth and acclaim. It’s harder for some of us to even start than for others.
But I have read too many stories on inspiration, seen to many people succeed despite their circumstances, to believe that you can’t achieve what you want if you are only willing to work hard to get it. Two hundred years ago, that fact was not true. Two hundred years ago, for many people, hard work brought survival and little more.
I tell you this not to force an unwelcome gratitude for a life you may not even need to think about that often, but to share my own awe. I know people who make a living from doing nothing beyond writing up their opinions and that astounds me. I have friends who earn their daily bread by making stuffed animals, music and a whole host of other artwork that there is simply no room for in an era where just to survive the year takes 365 days of labor.
Originally, this post was supposed to be a simple review of Guy Kawasaki’s latest book, “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions
.” I read the book in the matter of a couple of hours and wrote up a short review that, while positive, said exactly the same things that every other review of this particular book will say. To a certain extent, that is because “Enchantment” is a business book listing out some ideas for business that are not such a leap: if you can connect with a client or customer and convince her to like your product, the entire sales process becomes simpler.
The fault here lies with me, not with the book. While I was reading, I focused on the methods and anecdotes discussed. I read a lot of business books and that’s the way that I generally compare business books. But I didn’t truly pay attention to the overall framework Kawasaki was building. The language he used — his discussions of how to be enchanting, the impact of enchantment and so on — differs significantly from the words typically chosen for business books. But there’s more there than simply being persuasive and able to connect with potential buyers.
Have you ever thought of yourself as an enchanter? I was a little old when the Harry Potter books came out to add a wand to my playtime repertoire, so I wasn’t really able to answer that question with a ‘yes’ when I thought about it. My littlest sister routinely told me she was a witch when she was little and cast more than a few enchantments on me. Personally, though, I was half-convinced that I was a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.
But the question of if I’m even a capable of being an enchanter has come to me again and again after reading ‘Enchantment.’ the book never talks about the role of the enchanter in any great depth, but simply by telling you that you must be enchanting, it hints that you must always be an enchanter.
An enchanter has the abilities to cast spells, to turn Cinderella’s rags into a beautiful gown. An enchanter can create more than illusions — she creates real magic that can change lives on a whim. An enchanter can create the greatest beauty, the greatest challenges and the greatest stories. And I want to be one, thanks in large part to Kawasaki.
That leads me back around to what I opened with. We live in an age of unimagined opportunity. We truly can become enchanters, provided that we are willing to put in the hours to craft our spells and build our successes. Moreover, I’ve come to the conclusion that life is too short to live any other way. With the opportunity to live the life of an enchanter in front of me, I have a hard time justifying anything less.
My ancestors truly would consider me a witch, not only because of the technology I can use, but also because of the way I make my living. I type on a little box and somehow that translates to food and money. I know I can go further, though, and ‘Enchantment’ landed on my desk at a time when I’ve been looking at next steps. I’m not the only, either, and I believe that Kawasaki has cast a spell of his own that makes this book valuable for readers.
If you are interested in a more traditional review, consider this: Kawaski is a great writer, seasoning a discussion of modern marketing and communication techniques with perfectly chosen stories and anecdotes. He has chosen a style and a vocabulary that are game-changing. I received a free review copy of this book and I have a feeling that I am going to grateful for years to come for that simple gift. Read the book, let your thoughts stew and then comeback to it again.