Now you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it because of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled.

I love this quote from The Prestige because it touches on a very interesting fact of magic shows. A good magician would never reveal to the public how a trick was performed. This is not because of vanity or selfish information hoarding, it’s simply because once it’s revealed, the magic is gone – now it’s just a trick. The magic is all in the secret.

Unfortunately, I find the quote to be true outside of magic shows as well. I talk to a lot of people that ask a lot of questions, but don’t really truthfully want to ‘work it out’. They prefer to believe in the ‘magic’. They believe it’s magic of some kind or another that made someone be successful, that got a politician elected, that got a writer on the bestseller list, an app to get 1M users, a startup to get funded. It’s magic and normal people can’t do magic so there is no point in even trying.

For this crowd, they would rather be fooled than enlightened. They are looking for the secret, but they don’t believe the explanation when they hear it and they keep looking for the secret of the magic trick. Because the truth – that there is no secret, that it’s just day to day hard work – would mean that the goal they are dreaming about is – and has always been – within their reach and that responsibility is painful. The magic is a much more comforting story.

Next time you are looking for ‘the secret’, ask yourself this: am I really looking? Or am I happy to be fooled?