The Curse of Possibility (and why first-year fairies shouldn’t grant wishes)

Magic Wand
Jaden was cursed.

It wasn’t his fault; a wish from his fairy godmother had gone dreadfully awry. She was still a first-year apprentice, woefully undertrained, and she’d waved her wand nonchalantly and said something that would have made any competent fairy godmother slap her in the tiara.

She’d said, “Let Jaden be capable of anything!”

Well, you know how that works out.

Jaden grew into a man of many talents and interests and passions and careers; he’d proven handy at everything from deep-sea diving to chartered accountancy. (The only things he hadn’t tried were the French Foreign Legion and ant farming.)

He enjoyed most of the work he’d tried, which is easy to do when you’re very good at it. But he still felt unfulfilled.

It was a subtle thing, and took some time for Jaden to notice. But even though he was good at the work, it still felt like something important was missing.

One day, a lawyer from the Fairy Godmother Co-operative (Eastern Sector) arrived with a sparkly briefcase and a wand of paperwork.

She said, “Okay, sorry about the delay, but there was a rain of frog princes I had to process first. I understand you received a VYJ-56D, a fairy godmother wish with unforseen side-effects?”

“Uh, yes. I’m capable of anything.”

The legal fairy gave forth a long flat whistle. “Wow, that’s a kick in the teeth. Nasty. Good job on not becoming a serial killer or anything, kid.”

Jaden went pale. “I never even thought of that!”

“Yeah well, it happens. Oh-kay, let’s get this sorted out. Now, due to regulations we can’t just undo the wish, so we’ll have to add in a FGO-23I, a Supplemental Repair Wish.”

“Oh, right. So how do you fix this? What kind of wish is it?”

“Easy-peasy, son. We’ll just wish for you to know what your best work is.”

“Umm… what?”

“Look, you can do almost anything, right? Work with anyone, do a good job anywhere, get results… there is no limit on what you can accomplish.”

Jaden blushed. “Yep.”

“So the limiting factor isn’t possibility. You need a filter for greatness.”

“Oooh. That sounds good. How does that work?”

“Well, instead of focusing on work you could do, you’ll be paying attention to the work you should do. You’re able to do a lot of things, but there are still some things you shine at. ”

“Are there?”

“Yeah, the Philosophical and Philological Practitioners (Eastern) Unit did a lecture on this last week. They were really sure: everyone has some talents that are more powerful. Your baseline is higher than most, but you still have skills that have more potential and power than others. And the more you focus your time on those ones, the happier you’ll be.”

“Wow. Awesome. Sign me up!”


The wand waved, and a new understanding of his greatest work flooded in. Finally, Jaden knew which specific talents were his greatest ones.

The Curse of Possibility had been removed.

(And that apprentice was fired. But she’d messed with a lot of people before Internal Fairy Affairs caught up with her.)

Have you been cursed by your potential and can’t figure out what your greatest work is? I’m your Goddamn Radiant fairy godmother!

38 thoughts on “The Curse of Possibility (and why first-year fairies shouldn’t grant wishes)

      1. O… M…G! I completely needed that right this very second! I’m a possibilities person, and in recent years have become aware of how very much it’s a curse that is in the sneaky disguise of a blessing! I have been thinking a lot recently about how I’m bored with lots of things I’ve been doing, and I swear you just donged me on the head with your fairy wand. I’m a teacher. That’s what I’m bloody good at and what I love the most. I am much closer to being ready to book a call with you πŸ˜€ Thank you sooooooooooooo much!

  1. Ohhhh…. I’d love to have the sparkly briefcase πŸ™‚

    Great point about possibility and being good at many things – it’s a hard road in some ways. About that fairy godmother thing…

    1. I think you would look AWESOME.

      And you can figure out your best work without a fairy godmother, it just needs time and thoughtfulness. (I do make it much faster and POW-ey, though. πŸ™‚ )

  2. “The legal fairy gave forth a long flat whistle. β€œWow, that’s a kick in the teeth. Nasty. Good job on not becoming a serial killer or anything, kid.” ”

    I’m so glad I wasn’t drinking anything because I would have spat it out all over my keyboard at that line. AWESOME, Catherine. Just plain awesome.

  3. Catherine, I am so thoroughly enjoying these stories! You have quite a gift for teaching big lessons in a super fun and delightful way. Thank you for sharing this gift with us! πŸ™‚

    Love the distinction between possibility and greatness

  4. love this love this love this!

    here’s to greatness and our very own goddamn-graduated radiant fairy godmother πŸ™‚

    ROFL at ‘never, ever hire a trainee with a wand’

  5. You really should stop calling me Jaden…

    Seriously though, I feel kinda embarrassed at how this has hit home (not going so far as to say that I can do “anything”, but there hasn’t been much that I haven’t been able to be good at in life so far…)

    Taking your advice and looking at the things I do to see whether I’m doing what I SHOULD be doing…I smell a change in the air…

  6. Awesome post, hits kind of close to home, but I’m recovering:)

    And the mention of the sparkly briefcase now causes me to have to tell the story of my favorite briefcase ever:

    Don Rethke is know as Dr. Flush – he is (seriously) the inventor of one of the early space toilets (Apollo era, I think) Now in his retirement he travels to events and teaches about human spaceflight and the engineering behind it.

    His briefcase says “Dr. Flush” on it and in the upper left hand corner has a handle of the variety used to flush toilets. Truly Awesome!

  7. GREAT GREAT POST! Followed a link from The Middle Finger Project.

    I am exactly this guy. I am so good at a variety of things that is seems that all of them are equally the direction I could take. I know what I enjoy doing, I just need to figure out a way to monetize it more effectively.

    Actually, I know what I want to do and how to monetize it, and I have even fined tuned it so that I am really only doing the aspects I enjoy and structuring the rest so that it is handled by someone else.

    The hitch is, that I can also think thru the other avenues, all the way and make plausible, feasible plans pursuing those lines, as well.

    And to top it all off, I have a big, big “fear” of being bored and HATE routine. Which is why I thought that doing a variety of things fit the bill.

    Paradoxically, I find I am bored at all of them, likely because I am only pursuing an “average” level of involvement at each of them.

    All of this is to say, and yes, there is a point, LOL, that I think that you are absolutely right in that there is joy AND cash in figuring out and pursuing your greatest work.

    Thank you very much for this great story!

    1. Hi Stephanie! Yet another reason to adore Ash, she brings me great readers. πŸ™‚

      Speaking as someone for whom this was 100% ME a year ago – and really, it was – choosing one topic, or one audience, or one anything was very hard. But oh, how the great stuff came in when I did!

  8. OMG! Catherine… this post is the most glorious one I’ve read in a very long time. You are a wonderful story teller! I absolutely adored every word and I know it will stay with me a long time, too. I find myself in a similar situation as Jaden (though I can’t do everything… but close πŸ˜‰ Do tell more how you can help us narrow our world down to something that is just right! I’m all ears.

    1. Heya Deb! Well, that’s really what Goddamn Radiant is all about, helping people go from the COULD to the SHOULD.

      Other than that, here’s a great question to ask: “Is this the coolest thing I could possibly be doing? And why am I not doing that cooler thing?” πŸ™‚

  9. Thinking of Taekwondo (where one had to win 100%) instead of a Maths test (it is enough for me to be 80% or 90%) made things worse. “surpassing all others” thinking, super logical super ambitious. All or nothing thinking. Then there is the ‘i can’t be that good’ and trying to see if someone is coming to tell, know you are good go ahead, you won’t be hated. The scene was calmer when one realized that the expectations were fine, as long as they were taken as possibilities for the future than failures or inadequacies one had to be guilty about…

  10. Dayum! Now I fear I’m *not only* Jaden in-real-life, but also the ‘trainee with the wand’! Yikes!

    {Shanna Mann just sent me to the Alchemist and the Marketer post… Love you already!}

  11. Goddam Radiant is a different course now, yes? I just found you this weekend via Jackie Walker and I’m wandering from room to room gasping at all the great stuff. Do you still have a curse-of-possiblity removal tool?

    1. Β Hello, honey! Goddamn Radiant is still more-or-less the same work nowadays, except better. πŸ™‚

      Quite a few people who just need to focus in on the What of their business have used one session as a “a curse-of-possiblity removal tool”, which is a brilliant line I now plan to steal for the sales page, which I do need to update. πŸ™‚

      And thank you for the compliment!

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