Create New PossibilitiesTM

Persistence + Perspective = Problem Solved!

Most people quit on stuff too soon.

The late comedian Mitch Hedberg once joked that if he came up with a really funny joke, but the  pen and paper to write it down were all the way on the other side of the room, then he’d have to convince himself that the joke he just came up with wasn’t really that funny after all.

Mitch Hedberg photo from Comedy Central

My own life is littered with incomplete projects, abandoned goals, and unfulfilled potential. I’ve set up fitness regimens and gotten too busy to make them happen. I’ve written hundreds of book outlines, dozens of chapters, and hundreds of thousands of words only to quit when it gets too hard.

I bet you can think of a few examples in your own life where you’ve come up short of success. You’ve had career ambitions which start to seem unreachable. Or personal goals that fall flat when obstacles crop up along the way. Maybe you have a vision for your team, or a business, or a healthier, happier lifestyle that you feel you’ll never achieve because the problems in your way seem impossible to solve.

As soon as we tell ourselves that something can’t be done, or that we can’t do it, we condemn ourselves to staying right where we are. Our problems persist and we get stuck doubting we’ll ever be able to move through them.

Our thoughts have the power to imprison us in a place of unfulfilled potential.

But, thankfully, they also have the power to transform our lives for the better.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from magic, it’s that we are always just a shift in perspective away from creating new possibilities. Even the most challenging problems can be navigated, if we’re only willing to keep looking at them from different angles.

As soon as we tell ourselves that something can’t be done, or that we can’t do it, we condemn ourselves to staying right where we are.

One of my magical mentors used to tell me that “there’s no problem that cannot be solved with a little perseverance and a change in perspective.”

He shared a puzzle with me to illustrate the point:

A chess tournament has 999 players. Competitors will square off in one-on-one matches. The winner of each match will advance to the next round and the loser will be eliminated from the tournament.
The first round of the tournament will produce 499 winners and a “bye” for one of the players . Each of those players will pair off for round two. The rounds progress like this until only a single player remains the champion.
How many matches will be played in the tournament?

How do you solve this problem?

For many, this is what the thinking sounds like: “Okay, the first round will have 499 matches, with one extra player. The second round will have half of that… what’s 499/2 – no wait, there’s an extra player, so 500/2 is 250. So the second round has 250 matches. The third round has 125. How many is that total? 499 + 250 + 125… ummm…, …, … “

While this problem is totally solvable using the approach of counting each round’s winners, it’s mentally taxing and many give up. Some even tell themselves that they’re not capable of solving it.

Some never even try to figure it out – they see numbers and smell math and run for it!

But what if we could shift perspectives? Is there another way of looking at this challenge?

Instead of focusing on the number of winners who advance in each round, what if we looked at the losers (non-winners?)?

Instead of doing the math from the bottom up, what if we looked at things from the top down?


How many total competitors? 999

How many will be the champion? 1

How many will have to lose? 998


Therefore, how many matches must be played? 998

But there’s always another way of looking at things. And shifting perspectives leads to new possibilities.

Did you feel that shift? I remember having a moment of clarity after walking through that thinking process.

A simple solution to the challenge was right in front of us but we couldn’t see it. Why? Because we got stuck in our perspective of the problem. And what’s more, we assume that the way we’re looking at the problem is the only way to view it, so we don’t even TRY to look for other perspectives.

But there’s always another way of looking at things. And shifting perspectives leads to new possibilities.

Effective leaders know this. They are in the practice of actively seeking out and considering new angles on old problems. They ask more questions and give themselves permission to be curious. They acknowledge the limits of their own perceptions and are rewarded with the insights and ideas they gain from others.

This week consider the challenges that feel too tough to handle and before you quit on them take a step back. Give yourself permission to be curious. Ask “what if there’s another way?” Consider as many other vantages on the problem as you can, you might just find the key you’re looking for.

We’re always just a shift in perspective away from new possibilities, and we’re all much more capable than we think.

Benefits of Hiring Brandon

25+ Years
in Magic

Bringing you years of performance experience to wow your audience, open their minds, and leave them inspired. 

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Client Love

“Your keynote was right on the mark and staff are still citing a few key messages around the office. Thank you again for your great session, it was loved by all! Which is a hard thing to accomplish with this group!”
Julia Wagner, City of Hamilton
“Brandon was the star speaker at our event! Our guests were mesmerized and the messaging was perfect! Brandon is a must have for a successful conference, gala or fundraiser!”
Lenka Nyeste, Sun Life Financial
“Brandon Love’s presentation style is enjoyable and engaging, he captivates his audience with mind-boggling tricks to unlock our minds and think more creatively, challenging his audience to wonder and ask “what if” or “why not”. He is very enlightening and left our team re-energized.”
Dee Henne, AVP & CFO, McMaster University
“Your presentation was informative and entertaining, and very well received.  We have had numerous comments from attendees who all stated how much they enjoyed hearing from you.”
Dave Lowe, Past-President of CASIU, The Canadian "Trillium" Chapter of IASIU
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Janet Aldred, Allstate Insurance
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