Why Believing—Really Believing—In Your Business Is So Powerful

Hard-nosed business types may scoff at the idea of "magical thinking," but Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso has some news for you: dreams fuel intent, which drives success.

Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. --Roald Dahl

Chaos magic is the idea that a particular set of beliefs serves as an active force in the world. In other words, we choose what and how we believe, and our beliefs are tools that we then use to make things happen . . . or not. Though this comes from a school of magical thought, it actually seems really practical and “no duh” to me. If you believe something, other people will believe it, too. You can’t convince someone else--whether it’s a potential employer, a loan officer at the car dealership, or someone you’ve been crushing on--that you’re amazing and terrific if you don’t actually think you are. This isn’t the false confidence that comes from getting a bunch of “likes” on your Instagram selfies, but a deep-down, unshakeable self-confidence that persists even when things aren’t going all that great.

A big practice in chaos magic is the use of sigils, which are abstract words or symbols you create and embed with your wishes. To create a sigil, start by writing out your desire in a single word, a couple of words, or a short sentence. Then remove all the duplicate letters, then all the vowels--basically, you can do whatever you want here--until you’re left with a bunch of lines that you can combine into one symbol. Then you put the piece of paper in a book, in your wallet, or some other place where it won’t get lost, and just forget about it.

The real “magic” of sigils is that you’re only forgetting about it on the surface level. Taking the time to think about what you really want and doing something about it, even if it’s just drawing some lines on a piece of paper, embeds these wishes into your subconscious, and then your subconscious makes it happen, even when the conscious part of your brain is busy doing something else.

I treat my Internet passwords as modern-day sigils, embedding them with wishes or promises to me, or even financial goals for the company. (Hey, I never made any claims to be normal here.) That way, every time I go to log in anywhere, I’m subtly reminding myself of what I’m working for. This kind of intention setting has worked for me. Dozens of times a day, as I tap out a few strokes on the keyboard, I’m reminding myself of the bigger picture. This ensures that when I’m bogged down with day-to-day bureaucracy and details, I don’t lose sight of what I really want.

I’m not trying to say that this kind of intention setting will always work, because you can’t just type “abajilliondollars” whenever you log in to Facebook and all of a sudden become Warren Buffett. It is, though, a heretic’s version of kneeling by your bed and saying a prayer every night. It’s intention setting. It doesn’t have to be as hard and fast as saying “I want a job at a fashion company,” but it can be something like “I want a creative job” or “I want to have fun at work.” Keep reminding yourself over and over that this is what you want, and you’ll soon find that the more you know what you want, the less you’re willing to put up with what you don’t.

One of the best things about life--a reason not to go blindly after one goal and one goal only--is that sometimes it will take you to something that is way cooler than anything you would have consciously set out to do in the first place. I never had one particular goal or dream that I was working toward; all I knew was that I wanted to do something awesome, and was open to whatever shape or form this awesomeness took. I wanted to be a photographer; I wanted to go to art school; I wanted to play in a band; and when I started the eBay store, all of this came in handy even though I would never have associated these things.

My interest in photography gave me an advantage over other sellers who didn’t care about lighting or composition. My days of being the tardy employee at the record store gave me a cultural and musical understanding that was more unique than if I’d just listened to garbage-y pop on the radio my entire life. None of these were things I ever expected to add up to something called a brand, but they contributed to all the ways in which Nasty Gal is just a little off and a little surprising. All of that flailing about, trying new things and finding out that I liked some of them and hated others, ended up amalgamating into something very real and very meaningful, and in the end, made me capable of providing a life for myself.

While I truly believe that you must have intentions to fulfill your dreams, I also think you have to leave room for the universe to have its way and play around a bit. Don’t get so focused on one particular opportunity that you’re blind to other ones that come up. If you think about one thing, and talk about it all the time, you’re being too obsessive. You might ruin it. If you let yourself meander a bit, then the right things and the right people fall into place. Some things are worth fighting for--don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a fighter--but I really think that what is right should be easy. My dad has always said that the definition of crazy is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, and it’s so true. If something’s not working out, but you keep hammering at it in the exact same way, go after something else for a while. That’s not giving up, that’s just letting the universe have its way.

--Reprinted from #GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso with permission of Portfolio/Putnam, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright (c) Sophia Amoruso, 2014.

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1 Comments

  • Randi Winter

    This is so right on and to the point and purpose! All the amazing women who are taking the road less taken are with you 110% (because we know that 100% is just not enough!) Don't feel you have to fight your way upstream like a salmon spawning... find your flow and it will take you where you belong..