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A Little Happier: Alas, There Are No Wizards.


My father has given me a lot of great advice over my life – about how to live my life, how to succeed at work, how to deal with other people, about just about everything.

And one of the most helpful things that he told me is something that I think about often, and it has saved me from many mistakes. Unfortunately for me, I often fall into this trap and learn again, the hard way, how right he was.

We were talking about some situation – I don’t even remember what exactly – when some people had hired a consultant. And he observed, “There are no wizards.” And we’ve returned to that idea many times.

It’s so tempting to convince myself that if I could just find the right helper, the right consultant, the right adviser, the right person to do a job, all my problems would magically be solved, and I wouldn’t have to be worried or involved with a project any more.

Sometimes this is an incredibly enticing idea. I’ve been in situations where I so badly wanted to find someone who could handle a problem for me, and let me step back.

And over and over, I remind myself of my father’s words: “There are no wizards.” There are smart and capable people, yes of course. There are people who can bring tremendous value to a problem. But if something is important to me, and I care a lot about the outcome, I have to stay involved. I can’t just delegate to some wizard. Whenever I’ve done that, I’ve been disappointed.

There are no wizards.

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