Successful magicians are always seeking out new tricks or researching old tricks. Most will not be performed, but something will be learned from all of them. How did they do that? Is that the best method? Would an effect like that suit me? If not, could I use the idea in a different way?
Stuff in leads to stuff out
If you are always learning you are constantly broadening your mind and skill-base. You get better at talking and better at doing. You build up a resource bank of ideas, invaluable when called upon to improvise. New creativity opens up new possibilities.
The more and better stuff you feed into yourself, the more and better stuff you will get out of yourself: words, music, comedy, physical co-ordination and more.
Come on, keep up
The world is constantly changing. If you don’t keep learning you risk getting left behind. Leadership styles now are very different to those of a couple of decades ago. How many times have you seen an older leader upsetting and struggling to manage a younger team, mainly because the assumptions about their relationship are different?
How do you keep learning? You could go back to college or university, or do another kind of formal training course. That is quite a heavy commitment in terms of time and money. However, there are now more options than ever for continuing education using ad-hoc methods throughout daily life.
Reading is feeding
A key element is reading. It has been said many times, but bears repeating, “Readers lead and leaders read.” It is all too easy to give up reading because you don’t think you have time. Actually, that is a false economy. You don’t really have time not to read. You will soon start to stagnate and your ability to produce and create will diminish. Stuff in leads to stuff out.
I try to maintain a mixed reading diet. First thing, I will scan the headlines on my phone. I will read a magic magazine if I am on the train. During my morning tea break, an autobiography sitting on my bed (I work from home!). In my afternoon tea break, a business book on the sofa downstairs. In the middle of my weekly kayaking trip, history on my phone. And in bed, a novel on my tablet, propped up on my nightstand so that it will switch off automatically if I go to sleep!
Your car is your college
I am also a huge fan of podcasts. Several hundred miles driving per week between magic bookings means a lot of podcast time! Again, a varied diet of comedy, history, economics, personal finance, leadership, spirituality, public speaking advice and interviews with performers. Many magicians use driving time for listening to audiobooks with a similar aim. I listen while driving, but you can also listen to educational audio content while cooking, running or walking.
‘Appy and I know it
Online and app-based learning is great. I have a Duolingo habit – 5 minutes of French each day. Two years ago I learned touch-typing through a free web course. The resources out there seem endless. Work out what you need and then knit it into your routine for a bit.
Mixing in Societies
Lastly, I have always loved joining clubs and societies. Maybe it is my natural introversion, but I like having my social life a little bit structured. This has been true since I was a child. At school at one point I was going to 12 extra-curricular clubs or lessons each week! I am not quite that extreme now, but I am currently a member and regular attendee of The Magic Circle, Toastmasters and the Professional Speaking Association. I learn a tremendous amount from these meetings, both from the formal lectures and training and from the informal interactions between members, the sharing of expertise and ideas.
Education is the magic ingredient to keep you sharp. Whether it is by formal or informal means, never stop learning new tricks.