I REALLY shouldn't admit this…

Louis C.K. doesn’t listen to the car radio before a gig.

Aziz Ansari always listens to his last show before he goes on stage. 

I know a comic who doesn’t eat in the five hours before a gig. She thinks that hunger makes her sharper, more focused and more able to deal with hecklers.

I’m reading a book that talks about how pre-gig routines can help set you up for success.

I’ve been a magician for 10 years… why am I only learning about this now?

One of the reasons is that I feel that performing at my best is something I should just be able to do. I shouldn’t need to enter a trance state, listen to alpha music and ingest dubious brain supplements I bought off the internet to be able to perform. 

I’ve put in the miles, wrote the gags and perfected the tricks.

I should just be able to do it.

It reminds me of something people often say when they discover I’m a performer…

“Really? YOU? A performer? Christ!”

No, not that. The OTHER thing:

“I could never do what you do…”

As if creativity is a special skill that can’t be taught – that creative people are born, not made. 

To some folk, creativity is something bequeathed to us blessed mortals by a higher power. Predetermined, like the colour of our hair or our ability to tolerate movies starring Lindsay Lohan.

If only they knew the truth…

If only they knew that creativity is nothing more than a process – an agonising system of trial, error and continual frustration.

Good ideas don’t materialize from thin air – they come from hard work and rigorously following a routine.

Some creative people will never admit this. They fear that, if they tell you the truth – that it’s a skill, and it can be learned – it’ll ruin the trick and the game will be up.

Aha! They’re not creative at all! They’re just using a carefully designed system that constrains their minds and allows them to be creative!”…

…they might say.

“Great creative minds think like artists but work like accountants.” – Mason Currey.

Of course, it’s not just creativity that has this special “born, not made” quality about it.

“None of the men in our family has ever been good with numbers…” – as Dad tries to explain to the Police Officer why he was doing 108mph in a school zone.

I’m not good with tech” – says Gran, using her Nokia 3310 to program the toaster.

There’s a lot of comfort found in the idea of “talent” – that we’re either able to do something or we can’t, and that’s that.

We’re either born with the ability to juggle chainsaws on a ten-foot unicycle, or we’re not.

How many studies is it going to take before we finally admit the truth – that it’s just an excuse?

How many studies is it going to take to realise that I can’t play the piano, not because God didn’t bless me with a gift for “tinkling the ivories”, or because my mother didn’t sleep with Elton John…

No, the reason I can’t play the piano is that I’ve never actually sat down and tried.

It’s the same with marketing: 

“I just can’t write emails…”

“I can’t keep up with social media…”

“I can’t do video. I look awkward and weird…”

Of course you can’t… the first time you try.

Write two emails a week to your list for an entire year and THEN tell me you can’t do email.

Spend 10 minutes every day on LinkedIn for a month, sharing something your customers REALLY need to know and THEN tell me you can’t do social media.

Post one video a day for six months in a private Facebook group where you are the only member and THEN tell me you can’t do video.

You’re not a failure, you’re just judging yourself about 10,000 attempts too soon.

Wanna get better at something?

Create a routine to practice it and put in the repetitions.

ROUTINE and REPS.

It’s the only way anything great will ever be created.

Let me know what you’d like to get better at. Who knows, maybe I can help.

John

P.S. The P.S. seems like a good place to remind you that, as a loyal, fierce and brave subscriber, you get access to the “GOOGLE DRIVE OF AWESOMENESS!!!”.

I’m going to be adding something new to the drive next week.

At the moment, it’s a toss-up between a short guide on speech delivering tips, or a short and light-hearted email autoresponder sequence template next week, along with a video, explaining it. 

Which would you find most useful?