On Magic Competition

Fart Two: Mental Preparation

Have you ever heard someone say, " Who else is competing? "or "I wouldn't want to enterif I zoasn 't sure I was going to win, "or "What tricksdoyouthinkso-and-soisgoingtodo?"

Ifyou have ever entered a magic competition, you will have certainly heard these before. I know I have. If s human nature, I guess. But the reason I am writing this article is because I believe that with the proper preparation and mental approach, these questions become meaningless.

By their very nature, contests are viewed as win-lose propositions. The challenge aspect behind winning and losing seems inescapable, but only if you choose to only play the visible game. There are other - possibly more enjoyable, meaningful, and productive - games that can be played in the course of any contest

In my wallet, visible every time I open it, is a fortune saved from a fortune cookie. It reads: "Nothing is a waste of time ifyou use the experience wisely " It is here that other objectives, or games, come into play, and once you begin to approach competitions with them in mind, you can be virtually assured of achieving them, provided you put forth the effort necessary.

Notice that I didn't say you were guaranteed to win. Nor did I say it was automatic.

First of all, let's get this thing about competitions straight You are not competing against others, you are competing against yourself. Comparing yourself with others is an unsatisfying, self-defeating, and frustrating experience, because there will always be those greater and lesser than yourself. With this approach, if there is someone you perceive as better than you are, you might not try at all, putting an end to a hope of obtaining any of the good you might have won. Also, if there is someone you perceive as less than yourself, you might not try as hard, or push yourself as much as you are capable, thus defeatingyourselfinyour efforts to be all you could be.

So our attitude, from the instant we consider competition, should automatically be focused on ourselves, and ourselves alone. This frame of mind isn'tjust a ploy to pacify poor losers. It is reality. There may only be one trophy, and someone else may get it, but personal evolution doesn't begin or end with any event or competition. It is merely a path marker on our progress.

Let me ask a question. If the only value is in competing with ourselves, why do we need competitions? Answer: competing with ourselves is not the only value to be achieved from competition.

If the idea isn't to compete with another, what is the Among other things, there is real value in having a focused and meaningful short-term objective. And in the case of magic competitions, that objective is to research, plan, develop, and perfect the material necessary to fit the requirements of the competition you have chosen. The date of the competition puts an iron-clad deadline on the perfection of the material, and the pjbiiclyjudged aspect also serves to ipuryou on to greater accomplishment, since you will be putting your pride on the line.

I have seen many competitions where the person who gained the most value was not the winner, and I have seen winners who earned farmore than the trophy. You can gain confidence in yourself and your ideas, and not only do you gain exposure and recognition for your magic, but you are given the chance to expose the caliber of your character as well.

So, to conclude, I will share my favorite competition story with you. An extremely talented friend of mine had entered a major, highly-publicized competition. In terms of depth of knowledge, understanding, and technical ability, I consider him to be one of the best I have ever known. Yet, incredibly, when the dust had cleared, he had not even placed in the top ten.

Later, he and I were sitting alone with The Professor, Dai Vernon. The Professor knew how much magic meant to my friend, and that the results had demoralized him, so he began to talk. And when The Professor talks, I listen.

"Once there was a Song Bird, flying through the air, singing his beautiful song, when a Ct0W flew up to him and challenged him to a singing contest. The idea seemed ridiculous to the bird, but he replied, 1 don't mind, but there is no one here to be the judge. Just then, a small bandij pigs were coming down the road. The Song Bird and Crow agreed on the pigs asjudges, so they flew to a nearby branch, and told the pigs of the contest. The pigs agreed, lining up for ihv free show.

"TheSong Bird led off with a beautiful version of his most carefree song, ending up with loud OINK5 from the audience and judges. Then the Crow took his turn, with long and loud CAAAAAAAS. Apt! iVti-'<i . the pigs broke from their judging huddle and announced that the Crow was the winner. The pigs waddled on down the the Crow soared through the sky but the Song Bird sat on a branch and cried. A squirrel, who had witnessed the contest, tried to console the Song Bird, don't cry becauseyou lost the contest...'

The Song Bird replied, I'm not crying because I lost the contest... I'm crying because the judges arepigs..."

So, finally, win or lose, remember to keep it all in perspective, and strive to make the trophy itself to be the least of the values gained from your involvement in any contest.

Here I am with Finn Jon at my lecture in Oslo, Norway. His friendship has always charmed me and his magic has always inspired me. Although I didn't notice it at the time, a magnifying glass review of this photo reveals that he had already hooked up four invisible threads to my body. I didn't feel a thing!


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