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Be humble

I have a lot of friends who are magicians, which means it’s very common to compare gigs. Then, when the inevitable happens–my friend gets a gig or an opportunity that I didn’t–I feel jealous. In these situations, I like to ask myself a few questions:

  1. Did I even remotely try to get the same opportunity? (Often, no).

  2. If I worked hard, could I get a similar opportunity? (Often, yes).

  3. Did I know this gig existed before my friend told me about it? (Usually, no). And if I didn’t even know it existed five minutes ago, why would I be jealous about it?

  4. Did I think about the time when I was the one who got the gig and my friend was likely the one jealous? Or did I only focus on the negative as it pertained to me?

The thing is, you’re rarely going to be at the absolute top of your field. Someone will always be doing something that seems better or more interesting. But…

We’ve talked before about asking yourself specifically what you want. Not what someone else wants. What you want. For example, let’s say my goal is to perform every night to get reps. I don’t care about the size or prestige of the gig, my goal is exclusively to get reps, and I’ve decided on that through journaling and independent thinking. If that’s the case, why would I be jealous of my friend who has to give up a week to travel to another city for just one show? Sure, it’s prestigious, but that gig is currently the antithesis of my goal. No need to be jealous.

What I’m getting at is that personal goals can dissolve jealousy–you know what you want, and you’re on a mission to get it, a mission that involves your work and your work alone. Other people getting other gigs is something that is happening independently of you–you can both succeed at the same time.

And what if someone who has the same goal gets what you wanted? Great. Reach out to them. Ask questions. Study after study confirms that jealousy comes from comparing ourselves to our peers. For example, Brené Brown writes that “We don’t compare our house to the mansions across town, we compare our yard to the yards on our block.” This means that, in all likelihood, the person you are jealous of is within your social bracket and accessible by email or phone. They are reachable, you can learn from them.

Additionally, nothing productive comes from jealousy. I’m talking about the negative stuff, like “Why did he get that gig? I’d do it way better,” because the answer is always the same: That person worked harder than you to get that opportunity--see question 1 above. And, even if you worked harder, chalk it up to bad luck, move on, and try again.

Magician Kostya Kimlat says that there are more gigs than there are magicians to take them. Magic, unlike music or theater, is an undersaturated market. There’s nothing that comes close to Broadway in terms of competitiveness. This is great! There are genuinely opportunities for everyone.

In his book The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek reframes “competitors” in business to “worthy rivals.” Think about this. In show business, we do have others who are vying for the same jobs. But those are the same people we ask for feedback from, and who we hope will recommend us if they can’t take a gig.

A rising tide lifts all boats. We are far better off genuinely congratulating friends who get great opportunities than wondering why they didn’t come to us. This isn’t just a skill for show business, it’s a skill for life.

Not only is it important to not be jealous of your friends, it’s essential to surround yourself with people who are better than you. Why would you ever want to be the best in the room? You would never learn. By surrounding yourself with people who are getting bigger, better, more exciting chances than you are, you give yourself the motivation to grow and think big.

But remember, this all starts independently. Think about what you want, what success means to you, and realize that there is room in the world for that life to exist. You just have to work for it.

Denver--you only have two more chances to see me live in 2022. One is tonight (August 19th), and the other is tomorrow (August 20th). Grab your tickets below!


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