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Terrible Wizard
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I apologise in advance - I'm pretty immature and insecure.

But this seems to be an interesting phenomenon I observed in myself the more I got into magic.

At first I loved to watch masters at work - it was wonderful.

But now I can do a few things, and realise how very hard this stuff is, I find myself having mixed emotions when watching magic acts - as well as the usual enjoyment, I find a negative set of emotions welling up - usually hovering around the following sort of thoughts:

"I wish I could do that"
"How does he do that. I must know."
"If only I had his talent/experience/time/money/contacts/luck etc"
"My magic is rubbish compared to this"
"I'm no good. What's the point?"

And, obviously, this is a sour note to have when watching entertainment!

How, apart from simply being a better person, do I stop myself becoming a bitter, jealous, disappointed little man!
Theodore Lawton
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Seriously. Try changing your viewpoint. Maybe even change your name from Terrible Wizard to something more positive. You'd be surprised how when we say bad things about ourselves we start to believe it.

And try to realize how much time- sometimes years- people spent becoming that good at what they do. I've felt discouraged at times watching the greats as well, but we have to realize that we're not them and try to accentuate what it is that we do well.

And use their greatness as motivation to do better, not as a reason to remain discouraged. Let it be inspiring!

If that fails, have a coffee and a doughnut; no one is ever bitter, jealous or disappointed having a coffee and a doughnut.

Smile Smile
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
Mr. Mystoffelees
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The very best thing I have ever done was learn to control my thoughts. Essentially, that is where you live. Every question you pose above will be answered by your mind- by your thoughts. For me, this took some work, as I tended to think negatively. If I had to give a speech, I would worry to the point that my voice shook. My most creative negative thinking was about the future. I made it bleak, troubling.

Now, when those destructive thoughts crop up, I can stop thinking them. I am able to "watch masters at work" with no thoughts at all- simply enjoy and appreciate. Now, I can construct the future I wish to have and make a plan for what I must do to live in it. I don't "wish I could do that", I just start. I don't worry about talent, as I am convinced talent is nothing more than consistent dedicated practice and study- lots of it.

Another thought- never compare your image of your own magic with someone you watch- magic that you DO is never even close to feeling as good as magic that you WATCH, You are most likely beer than you think...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Jason Simonds
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One of my best friends who loved to go see live music with me decided to pickup the guitar. Once he began learning the guitar, he began to loathe going to see other musicians play music. He said he'd rather be playing guitar than watching others play guitar. He quit going to shows with me and now he's playing gigs nightly around town. Maybe you need to take a break from watching others perform magic and focus on your own art. Instead of watching others perform magic, perform magic for others. Instead of wishing you could do it, go do it. Honestly, that'll be the only way you gain the experience and develop the talent.
Oneleggedwonder
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Don't compare yourself to someone with years of experience unless you have that same experience. Someone who has twenty plus years of experience SHOULD be better than someone who doesn't have that experience. The greats are great for a reason.
1KJ
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Great advice. Here are a couple additional thoughts:

1. Keep in mind, there are some very powerful effects that don't require a ton of skill. Check out some of Mark Mason's stuff, like Double Deception

2. Find one thing you really enjoy and practice. Do you remember learning to ride a bike? Was it difficult at first? Did you get to the point where it just came naturally? What did it take? Two things ... time and conviction.

Just enjoy the magic.

KJ
BeThePlunk
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I second all of the advice above, all given by mature folks who have made their own journeys. Work on one thing at a time, build step by step, and trust time.

When I was a kid I wanted to learn to play guitar. There was an older kid who played really well, and I asked him how long he'd been playing. He said, "Two years". It seemed like forever. I forgot the conversation and just kept working at it. Some time later, my group and I had just finished performing to strong applause from a large audience. I was backstage packing up when a younger kid asked me how long I'd been playing. "Two years," I said, and I flashed back to my earlier self and the forgotten conversation. I had become the kid I admired. That moment has stayed with me as a life lesson. Put in your time and one day you'll see how far you've travelled.
Mr. Mystoffelees
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Great story, Plunk...
Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
Terrible Wizard
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Yeah, I've travelled a ways since I first started ... But my own limited success is soon put into perspective by real experts!
Theodore Lawton
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Two things help me evaluate myself and my magic honestly.

1. Am I getting better? Am I better at card handling than I was last month? Last year? Every little victory and step forward in this area; whether it be cards, audience interaction, sleight of hand with small objects or what have you, is an encouragement. There is always room for growth and improvement, but am I making continual, even if slow, gradual progress? And... did I fail miserably doing a trick? Maybe I did, but what can I learn from that to make me better next time?

And 2. How do the real judges, the audience, view my performance? What kind of reactions and comments am I receiving? Are they laughing, gasping, having a great time and saying things like, "That was amazing?!" Because if they are, then at that point in time I don't need to be as good as Tommy Wonder or Larry Jennings. In fact, in my mind I might as well BE Tommy Wonder at that point because at that moment what I am is a successful magician. I am being a successful ME based upon my skills, who I am and what I have to offer people as an entertainer.

I'm certain that if you take your art seriously and apply these 2 guidelines to yourself, you will have many great times of encouragement and will realize that you too are becoming a proficient magician right where you're at.

Keep asking yourself and fellow magicians questions like your OP. You know, serious questions. Continual self-evaluation is great! With your earnestness to be great and the dedication that you show I'm certain you will only keep getting better.

Theodore-

Smile
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
Dorian Rhodell
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You know what the difference is between you and the "masters"?

Time in the game and / or age.

When I was 16, Paul Chosse said, "The only difference between you and me is that I've been doing it longer."

Go easy on yourself. If you care enough you'll get there.
Terrible Wizard
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Thank you Theodore, you've made some great posts Smile

Dorian:

I'm not convinced it's just time, and even if it was I'm at a disadvantage starting magic as an adult rather than a teen or young man. I think a large range of other factors go into making someone who they are, apart from work and effort, many of which lie outside of their control.

However, I am trying to be more positive Smile. And I might even take Theodore's advice about my name ... Sometime in the not-too-distant future I might re-invent myself here Smile
Theodore Lawton
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Nice. I look forward to seeing the big reveal! Just an fyi- you change your name by politely asking in the tech help area thread near the top of the Green Monster.
Magic is the bacon in the breakfast of life.

............................................

God bless you and have a magical day
1KJ
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Terrible Wizard,

Before you consider changing your name, think about your magic character. Whether amateur or pro, you can create a magic character. I like to poke fun at myself, so my character plays a bit dumb sometimes. For example, I do a crazy man's handcuffs routine where I really believe I am stuck in handcuffs. It is done in a very light-hearted, humorous way. The first show I did was for my daughter's birthday, many years ago. she was five. In that show, I played the magician and she played the assistant. Everything I did went wrong and she would finish the trick and give me a little consolation pat on the head. The audience loved it, and so did my daughter.

However, if you do play the character of the Terrible Wizard, you still want to practice and then practice some more, and then more, until your skills are good.

KJ
Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse
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You have to practice to obtain skill. There simply aren't any shortcuts. If you like something start practicing now because every second you don't it's time you won't get back
Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse
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Ohhhhhh and get some magic friends. They will help you with the little things that make things quicker and easier
Dorian Rhodell
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Here's you...

"I'm not convinced it's just time, and even if it was I'm at a disadvantage starting magic as an adult rather than a teen or young man. I think a large range of other factors go into making someone who they are, apart from work and effort, many of which lie outside of their control."

AND

"I wish I could do that"
"How does he do that. I must know."
"If only I had his talent/experience/time/money/contacts/luck etc"
"My magic is rubbish compared to this"
"I'm no good. What's the point?"

Here's what I think;

It's time and effort. That's it. Nothing more.
Many incredible magicians started at an older age. Larry Jennings started when he was an adult. BUT...he worked his butt off, befriended the best mentor one could hope for and surrounded himself with other magicians who shared the same passion.

If you think there are other things out of your control then I suggest you Google Mahdi Gilbert.

You ever wonder why Kobe Bryant gets paid more to play for the Lakers than someone right off the draft? I'll save you the time of guessing. It's proven results due to the amount of HARD WORK that he puts in. Sure, we look at a game or a season and might say, "He is so over paid."
What we don't see is the conditioning he goes through, the thousands of hours just throwing free throws etc...

"Well, I'm not that tall so I can't be as good or play pro ball." Google Spud Webb.

If you wish you could do something...then put in the time and effort to do so!

If you really want to know how something is done, put in the time and possibly figure it out via studies (again time and effort) OR put in the time and effort and make something so good that someone may want to trade you!

If you had his talent you would realize that it took time and effort to obtain it. Sure...some people are born with a natural talent but hard work trumps neglected talent any day. Don't believe me? Ask the guy who has the talent!

Not having any money / contacts etc. has NOTHING to do with what you need to get those. Actually, you don't get those...you EARN 'em.

If you want to continue to think your magic is "rubbish", then go ahead. If you want to change your perspective and stop comparing yourself to others who have EARNED their experience and knowledge...then do something about it.

What's the point? If you work at something you love, your magic will be better (smokin" even!) and you'll be happier about it.

So look around the world...jobs, sports etc. Now tell me that time and effort have nothing to do with people who excel and those who don't.

Sometimes your circle of control is about the size of a penny. It's how handle what is not in your control that can set you apart from others.


Best,

Dorian Rhodell
bowers
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Your only as good as your willing to put the
time in for perfection.And remember there are some
no matter how much you practice you won't be as good as them.
For some have a special born talent for certain talents.
And you probaley do too.The magic that your best at performing
is what you need to put more time in perfecting.We all can do
certain things better than others.You just need to find it.
Todd
Terrible Wizard
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Dorian, thank you for the post - many good points Smile.

However, just to be clear I'm not saying that time and effort aren't important, only that there are many factors outside of one's control that also go into making who you are, and what you're good at. There are many obvious 'luck' factors - I'm sure you'll be able to name scores of them if you think about it, ranging from genetics, to certain psychological predispositions developed from early year experiences, to being born in the 'right' family in the 'right' country at the 'right' time, all the way to simply being alive past a certain age. Time and chance are factors in life, though I'm not denigrating the importance of hard work, motivation, and persistence by saying so. As bowers rightly notes, even if I put in twice the time and effort that some do I'll still not 'be as good as them'.

I guess the trick is to make myself the best I can be, to enjoy who I am and what I can do, and to ignore false comparisons with others. But doing that is hard for me to do! Again, it's not that I don't try, it's that my thought life isn't a 100% under my control (is anyone's?), and I find these sorts of negative thoughts bubbling up whenever I watch a good magician at work. And, to make matters worse, those statements have a ring of truth about them - it's simply not realistic for me to think I could become a Tommy Wonder or a Paul Daniels or Bill Malone or whoever. Even if I quit my job, abandoned my family responsibilities, inherited a stack load of cash, moved to a city in the US full of magicians, and practiced 18 hours a day, would I really still fill their shoes?

And, of course, I don't practice 18 hours a day, I do have a demanding job, and I'm not going to abandon my family or inherit money etc etc.

What I'm asking for here, I guess, are practical strategies to avoid sour feelings and bitterness (and all those, 'If only ...' thoughts) which threaten to spoil magic, to some degree, for me. I want to hear whether these thoughts affected others, what they did to change it, what success they met with, and I want to avoid the thread sinking into a 'yes, but ...'' game.

So, keep the suggestions coming folks Smile
Ado
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I suggest you try to be jealous of just one magician at a time. Those magicians you envy are most likely unable to perform the others'tricks as well too... As far as I know, Vernon is not famous for his 3 fly, and Roth is not a reference when it comes to doing the spread pass. Pick one magician, envy him/her, and try to attain the same level. Forget about the others, they're doing something else...

P!
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