Effect First Thinking

When a magician is creating something new, there are 2 parts of the equation.

  1. The Effect: What do I want the audience to experience?
  2. The Method: How am I going to make that happen?

In a good show, the magician puts most of his time into answering the first question as clearly as possible, and then devoting excessive amounts of time & effort to figuring out the second question.
He allows the effect to dictate his choices.
When it’s a decision between two options:

  1. The easy way that diminishes the effect, or
  2. The difficult way that enhances the effect

The good magician will choose the second option every time.
It’s not unusual for a magician to spend a couple years working on a method if it’s the difference between an ok trick and a perfect trick.


Sometimes, however, a method can be so ingenious, novel, or fun that a magician tries to come up with a trick that would justify using that method. This, however, rarely creates something truly spectacular.
To use a common saying, “This is the tail wagging the dog.”

Your Business

Many people who aren’t where they want to be suffer from “Method First Thinking.” They allow where they are to dictate where they want to go.
So often when I ask clients what they want, they can’t tell me. If you don’t know where you want to go (the what), focusing on the how isn’t going to do you any good.
Get absolutely clear on what you want in your life, and then figure out how to make that happen. Not the other way around.
Focus on the effect, first & the method becomes secondary.

Subscribe to "The Persuasive Professional" Newsletter

Powerful psychology insights delivered every weekday. Level up your life & business.

Other Stuff You Might Like