"My mind is the
key that sets
legacy lives on this
This Halloween is the 88th anniversary of the untimely death of Harry Houdini. It's spooky how many of his life lessons remain relevant today.
Harry was born Ehrich Weiss in Budapest, Hungary, in
1874 and died on Halloween, 1926. In between he was
a vaudeville headliner, became the world's most famous "escape artist", was the first man to fly an airplane
in Australia, was a silent movie star, director and producer, and created a thriving "Ghostbusting" business by debunking the seance-fueled Spiritualism craze that swept the US and Europe after World War I.
As impressive as Harry's accomplishments are, what's more compelling is that his name lives on today, even
as his famous counterparts (Blackstone, Carter, Dante, Hermann, Thurston and dozens more) have vanished from the public consciousness. But why?
I think it's because "Houdini" has become synonymous with risk taking, adventure, and steely, uncompromising resolve. Qualities to admire, as they are difficult to summon in our own lives.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
Today, we all enjoy advantages that Harry could only dream of:
A truly interconnected world. The miracles of modern science and medicine. Space exploration. In fact, the only commodities we sometimes lack are focus and persistence, which Harry enjoyed in abundance.
We would all do well to learn from his example.
Life Lessons from Harry Houdini:
1. Believe in yourself. Only then will others believe
in you and embrace your gifts.
2. Recreate your life. Use all your talents and channel your special combination of abilities to create a new service, product, or unique way of solving problems, both at work and at home.
3. Don't be bashful! Your accomplishments can only
be leveraged if the world knows about them. You don't have to be a shameless promoter like Harry, but you can't be invisible, either, so tell your story!
4. Be resourceful. Gobble up every book, article and blog post you can find to become an expert. Then apply your knowledge to solve challenges and open up your life to new business and personal opportunities.
5. Set lofty goals. You may not reach them all, but your extra efforts WILL make you grow.
6. Learn from your mistakes. Houdini had an encyclopedic knowledge of locks and restraints. He kept a diary of all his escapes - what worked, what didn't, and what he would do the next time he found himself
in a similar predicament. We all need a success diary!
7. Seek new combinations. Harry mixed his interests in magic, locksmithing and athletics to reimagine "escapology" as an entertaining art form.
8. Free your mind. Harry loved to explore and have new experiences. Perhaps it's time to finally try yoga, browse a new section of the library, listen to a new radio station and dine at that Ethiopian restaurant that just opened up down the street. Stimulating your senses stretches your brain and keeps life interesting!
So this Halloween, I'll mute the scary movie, set aside the candy corn for 15 minutes and reflect on how I can best internalize these lessons from the remarkable life
of Ehrich Weiss. Perhaps it's not too late to change.
Who knows? Maybe I'll even catch a fleeting glimpse of
a contented spirit, still rattling his locks and chains, smiling at me with approval. Cheers, Harry.
In the coming months, dear reader, we will explore the psychology and neuroscience of perception and how it informs our approach to business and life. As a result, Mental Notes
will continue to evolve to inform my roles as a national speaker, trainer, consultant and performer. I welcome your comments,
criticisms and questions along the way.