I just did back-to-back out of town shows where I was the only magician. Naturally, I ended up in many conversations about magic and the process behind it. Like we’ve talked about, seeing live magic is rare, so I’m always happy to pull back the curtain as much as I can without revealing secrets. I was lucky that the people I spoke to enjoyed my work, and these shows should lead to other opportunities.
It’s easy, though, to let praise inflate your ego. I can personally attest to the fact that part of magic’s appeal, especially as a young kid, is getting attention. So, a common train of thought after someone praises you might be: These people like my magic, and these people like me. Maybe that’s true! And there’s genuinely nothing wrong with that, as long as you take it in stride.
It's dangerous to take too much stock in positive feedback because it’s easy to become complacent and stop growing. Impressing lay people at a show you’re hired to do should be a given. Which is why it’s important to check your ego, which you can do by going somewhere that magic isn’t cool. More specifically:
Often, my friends and I go to dinner with a magician who is well beyond our skill level. He holds court. He tells us why we’re wrong about our core beliefs. He makes us realize, time and again, how much we have to learn. It totally pops the ego. Every time. But these conversations also fill us with knowledge. When you’re around a world-class magician, the fact that you do magic is not very cool. It’s not uninteresting, but it’s not unique in that circumstance. You need to have more to your personality—and understanding of magic theory, of art, of performance. You need to have other hobbies. In short, you must bring more to the table.
What’s the lesson? We all do interesting things, whether it’s magic, running, skiing, writing, or playing the cello. Regardless, you probably aren’t the best in the world at that thing, and constantly exposing yourself to people beyond your level is both humbling and the only way to learn. If you constantly bask in the glow of your accomplishments, if you purposefully remain a big fish in a small pond to avoid criticism or failure, you'll never improve.
Going somewhere where what you do isn’t “cool” doesn’t take the value from your work. Instead, it infuses value by showing you how many opportunities there are to improve. After all, would you ever really want to be on top of the mountain? I’d much rather always be able to look upward for inspiration. Always humble, always striving, always growing.
I've got lots of live shows lined up, and I'd love to see you there. Tickets below: