Genius, Power and Magic

Although there is some debate as to whether or not the following quote can be attributed to Goethe, it’s one of my all-time favorites:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it; boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

– Johann von Goethe

I’m inspired to act boldly every time I read this quote. Even more, I use it as my mantra at times when I feel a creative spark emerging, but I’m not sure I have enough _________ to pull it off.

You fill in the blank for you.

For me, it’s typically been “experience” or “knowledge” that resides in the “not enough” space. I become a hostage of the Expert Syndrome – the belief that you have to be an “expert” before you can throw your hat into the ring, or even open your mouth. And the belief that you have to go to an “expert” to get what you need; that regular people just don’t have, well, the expertise.

It was this quote and the honor of witnessing other people’s boldness that made me realize that expertise is very often (even when you’d swear it couldn’t be so) the very last item on the list of requirements for succeeding at almost anything.

Passion, motivation, rigor, discipline, willingness, open-mindedness, determination, joy, love and courage are what top the list. Experience and expertise is gained only after you have acted on whatever it is that you “dream you can do.”

It’s not that other saboteurs don’t hold me back at times. But today, I know in my soul the falsity of the Expert Syndrome, and as a result, I’ve been able to fiercely follow my own sparks, as well as champion spark-following in my clients.

Whenever I meet a client for the first time, I wonder this:

What brilliant creations are being held captive inside this one-of-a-kind person? What lives in her imagination? What sparks her? What’s in store for all of us, when she decides she can’t hold back anymore?

I’ve only been awed by what transpires whenever any one of us simply “begins.”

Here’s the full version of the quote:

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

What’s your experience with the ideas behind this quote?

What did you begin before you were “ready?” 

What’s the _________ that has held you hostage? How did you break free?

To flying!


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