As a magician I must practise, practise, practise before presenting my seemingly impossible effects to the waiting world. The method becomes invisible as I develop muscle memory to perform secret moves without apparent thought or effort.
When I start performing to lay people the practice continues. In fact, many argue that this is when the learning really begins; only when I perform can I see how a trick will be received, how certain lines of patter will or will not land and how the rhythmic timing of a trick works best.
But how to practise? I have never been a big fan of extended practice sessions. I much prefer the “little and often” approach. I have packs of cards all over the house, in my car and in every jacket and bag that I take out with me. In a spare couple of minutes I can whip out a pack and work on my new moves. Muscle memory builds up much better this way: short, intensive training, have a break and then come back to it later. I have heard dancers say the same sort of thing.
This “little and often” principle can be extended to many areas of life with great effectiveness.
Doing the Impossible
How often do you get demoralised about a goal because it looks too large, too daunting, plainly unachievable? You say to yourself, “I could never complete that task, it would take too much time and energy,” or look at someone successful and think, “I could never achieve what that person has achieved.”
Well, try breaking it up into little steps. When asked, “How do you eat an elephant?” the answer is, “One bite at a time!”
First of all, picture yourself having achieved the goal or completed the project. How does it feel? Great, I bet. Ask yourself whether there is any real reason that you shouldn’t get there. What is the real difference between you and someone who has already achieved it? Probably just determination, consistency and possibly a bit of learning. When I see another magician do an amazing shuffle or flourish with cards I am tempted to think, “I could never do that!” However, I know – because I have forced myself – that given enough “little-and-often” practice I can actually do it. Now people look at me and say, “I could never do that!”
Get your goal in mind. Then identify what has to change and what you need to do to get there. Break it down into sub-goals along the way. And then break the sub-goals down further and further until you have a practical step that you could easily take today.
Then you will achieve the impossible. Just like a magician learning a trick.