August 2017 Chatter
Posted at 31/07/17 - 11:57 AM
Longevity is something that I have always admired. The dedication and consistency that is required to maintain something for a very long period should never be underestimated. So, the sportsman who keeps himself at the very top for many years, or the team that maintains a lofty position for a long period, or the business that is highly successful for years, these all attract my admiration.
The same applies to magic, of course. The huge effort required by Goodliffe and Donald Bevan to produce Abra Magazine every single week for over 60 years, the dedication of David Copperfield to maintain his position at the pinnacle of magic for decades, the unwavering commitment from Duncan Trillo to keep MagicWeek updated every single Saturday for 17 years, these too are examples of amazing devotion.
It’s generally said that it is in some ways easier to get to the top than it is to stay there. On the face of it you would perhaps think that this might by counterintuitive. After all, struggling to achieve a supremely high standard in something in order to become the best for the first time, you would imagine would be the harder task as you have never done it before and so it is all new and uncharted territory.
But once you’ve made it, repeating what you did the first time in order to replicate the success you would have thought would be easier, as now you know what it takes to reach the summit.
Yet often it’s not, it actually seems to become harder. I think the reason is largely down to consistency, drive and mental attitude. Pulling everything together for a certain period of time in order to climb a summit is one thing, but having the desire to repeat the massive effort again and again takes a different type of determination.
In magic, the hours of practice and planning that needs to be put into creating a FISM winning act, for instance, means that you rarely, if ever, see anyone achieve success more than once. Not only is there the commitment angle to consider, but there is also always someone new, fresher and hungrier who will come along to make a challenge. Having the skill, knowledge and application to fend off all comers more than once is usually more than most people can achieve.
I think all this applies on a lower level too. You may be a really good entertainer, and you may have been performing successfully for many years, but do you still put in the same effort and reach the same standards of excellence as you did, say, 10 years ago?
Do creators of magic maintain the novelty and originality in their work that they achieved when they were young? Do magical authors still have something to say years after they first put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard?
Things move on in every field, magic included, tastes change and goals are constantly redefined. The long term successful people, such as David Copperfield, are those who not only have the unwavering commitment to what they do, but who also adapt and modify their offering to meet the changing requirements of their audience. Remaining exactly the same for ever rarely if ever works, and the best people realise this.
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