I was a magician for the best part of ten years, but throughout that almost decade long stint, I lacked the most essential skill to do the job…
… be a ‘performer’.
Thing is, I am not a natural performer. Not even close.
I hate getting cornered at parties and being the centre of attention.
I get nervous, hot, and flustered when the heat is on.
When I’m driving to a gig, the only thing that stops me from steering off a bridge is the thought of the tepid, yet overpriced Ginsters on the way home.
You might think there’s some exaggeration here, but you’d be wrong.
(OK, I WAS fibbing about the bridge bit…)
So, given I detest performing so much…
… why become a bloody magician?
“Masochistic much, John?”
I was on a podcast this week and we got…
OH! That reminds me…
If you’ve got a podcast, and think I’d be a good fit for a guest spot, let me know.
OK, so where was I?
Right… so, I was on a podcast this week and we got chatting about careers.
I was reminded of my tendency for choosing careers that are a TERRIBLE fit for me, BUT…
… are perfect for practicing the “meta-skill” I wanted to develop.
Let me explain…
You see, I never had any desire to be a famous magician, have my own TV show, or go on any of the “Britain lacks talent” shows.
I couldn’t give a toss if I got asked for an autograph while digging for cheap meat in Lidl.
When I started with magic, I only wanted to know one thing:
“Can I entertain a room full of strangers using only my personality and a pack of cards?”
That was it.
I wanted to develop the confidence and ability to be able to walk into any room on the planet like Tony Fucking Stark.
I made life as a magician super difficult because I never did the same “sure-fire” tricks everyone else did.
I didn’t use the sponge balls, wedding ring to car key, or “what’s that odour?” magic tricks.
Just me and a pack of cards.
Even though I have a load of testimonials on my website, the best one I ever got (which will mean nothing to you unless you’re a magician) was:
“You remind me so much of my Uncle Rovi…”
No word of a lie, I nearly cried when the elderly chap said that to me because it was the moment that I realised the answer to the question was “yes”.
I could’ve quit magic then.
It was the same with comedy. Even though I COULD have used magic in the act to give me a bit of a headstart and a guaranteed hook…
… I didn’t.
I wanted to know if I could make a roomful of strangers laugh using ONLY jokes I’d written.
Reading this back, I’m beginning to reconsider the “masochistic” bit.
Man, I’ve made my life hard.
No wonder I went grey in my twenties!
The point is – when I want to perfect a skill, my first thought is figuring out the best place I can put myself that would make learning that skill pretty much automatic.
With magic and comedy that was out in the real world – a roomful of inebriated strangers who aren’t shy about letting you know when you suck.
Clear, immediate, “will today be the day I drive off the bridge” feedback.
With copywriting, I wanted an agency gig – fast work, loads of different projects, and feedback every step of the way.
Why am I telling you this?
Well, because, even though I’m not performing magic and comedy anymore, I still want to practice the art of showing up, performing, and delivering good stuff, so…
I’ve had to find a new place to do it.
That’s right folks – I’VE STARTED A NEW THING!
It’s a podcast/video series aimed at delivering short, actionable tips business owners, freelancers, and service providers can use to make their lives easier.
Creating this not only forces me to show up every other day (or so!)…
… it forces me to think about ideas and deliver them in a way that is useful and actionable.
Also.. another bonus…
I used every single one of my 28 minutes of Canva experience to design the cover art:
Launching a podcast and video series seems like the kind of thing that should be worthy of a budget-busting party, but this is all you’re getting I’m afraid.
If you’re interested, here’s where I’m going to be placing myself to hone this skill:
Whether you do or don’t subscribe, think about this:
If you want to learn something new or get better at an existing skill…
… spend time thinking about the best place you could put yourself that would ENSURE you got better at it.
Hope that’s of use,