Added On: Sunday, November 04, 2007

Take time to learn useful tricks

When a magician makes an elephant disappear on stage before our eyes, we all know it's not real magic. We also know he wasn't born knowing how to do that. Instead, we understand that he's spent years honing his skills in order to trick us. He knows exactly how to distract us, fool our eyes, and surprise us with what we least expect. He's mastered the tricks of his trade.

Likewise, a skilled skateboarder can amaze us by doing a 720 degree spin after jumping at the top of a half-pipe. We know he wasn't born with that skill. It's a trick he's learned through knowledge and practice. He's taught himself exactly where to place his hand on the board, where to shift his weight, and what movements to make.

Like the magician and the skateboarder, much of how well we deal with the world has to do with what tricks we've taken the time to learn. A trick is basically a method of manipulating the world in our favour. And if you look carefully, you can see them being used to powerful effect all over the place.

Take, for example, a woman's quest to attract a man. Sure, she'll be born with a few natural assets, but she can also use a lot of tricks to enhance them. She can have her hair spruced up, wear clothes that accent her curves, put on make-up, have shoes that make her legs look nice, and put on a good perfume. I've often been surprised to find a girl I previously thought was quite plain turn into a knock-out with just a few of these. We all know they're superficial, but boy do they work!

At the same time, a man can enhance himself in a whole number of ways. He can buy a nice suit, stand tall, get a good haircut, learn how to make women laugh, and buy a hot car. With a few simple tricks, he improves his chances.

Look at the masters of financial markets. Were they really born knowing how to make money? I think not. Instead, they learned the tricks of the trade. When to buy, when to sell, how to judge risk, and so on.

My own field of IT is full of such tricks. Knowing how to manipulate a computer system in just the right way makes the difference between a genius and a loser.

Successful businesses know how to manipulate their customers in order to get a sale. They know what packaging to use, what price-tag to put, where to sell, when to sell, and what to say. Billions of dollars can ride on a few cheap and simple tricks like these.

Tricks, tricks, tricks. They're everywhere.

Many times, the difference between a winner and a loser doesn't all come down to innate ability. Instead, it rests on who's taken the time and effort to learn the most tricks. Fill your own magic bag with all sorts of them in as many fields as you can. And watch yourself zoom away from the competition.

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