I’ve written about the Magnetic Tree before. And it’s something I expand on at my business seminars. It’s a great way to describe how the mind works when faced with a crisis – any crisis. Including the present economic mess the County is sliding into.

I first heard of the Magnetic Tree in the moments before I stepped out of a ‘plane on my first parachute jump. The Jump Master told us that the Landing Zone (LZ) was about the size of an average Australian sheep farm. However, it contained one object – and one object only. A tree.

“When you are coming in to land, do not – under any circumstances – look at that tree,” he instructed us. “If you look at the tree it will become a powerful magnet, and you WILL hit it.”

And quite a few did.

The Magnetic Tree perfectly demonstrates the psychological principle called “pilot fixation” that where the mind looks the body follows. So, if we fixate our minds on the vision of something negative then we will produce negative results.

If the mind is preoccupied by today’s financial crisis, job losses, business collapses and so on… then that’s exactly where we are heading. And no mistake.

Yes, there are going to be problems. And, yes, people are already losing their jobs. But if we concentrate on the problems rather than the solutions then we are making the same mistake as somebody parachuting to earth who can’t take his eyes off the Magnetic Tree.

I am honoured to know many West Lothian entrepreneurs and businessmen. And do you know what? Almost without exception every one of them was a victim of some previous employer going bust, or a mine closing, or the car plant shutting down. Yet they marked that as a starting point, rather than their ruination.

They were made redundant but decided not to become fixated on the Magnetic Tree looming ever larger. Instead, they concentrated on where they wanted to go rather than where they DIDN’T want to go.

There will be job losses, yes. Financial cuts that lead to unemployment. But among the individuals being pushed from their jobs there are dozens of bright minds who will go on to set up the remarkable, innovative companies of tomorrow.

Because that’s what business folks from West Lothian do!

In short, we refuse to look at the Magnetic Tree.


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