Why Being A Rounded Magician Is Overrated


As regular readers know, I love getting inspiration from outside magic. So this week I want to share one of my favourite books. It has great ideas, great writing…just a terrible title. It’s called Rules For Aging by Roger Rosenblatt and it’s a “wry and witty guide to life”.

It’s full of unconventional nuggets of wisdom, in the form of numbered rules. I’ll share one of my favourites, and how to apply it to magic.

Rule 16: Do Not Go To Your Left

It’s inspired by basketball, where right-handed players are often encouraged to work on rounding out their skills by using their left hand more and moving to their left on the court. For life, however, he suggests the opposite:

Ignore your weaknesses and strengthen your strengths.

His reasoning is that, given that we all have limited time, it makes more sense to spend it going from good to great in one aspect – and become known for that – then to go from bad to average in another.

I think it’s great advice for magic too. After all, how good is David Blaine at comedy magic? How good is Harrison Greenbaum at classical manipulation? Who knows?! Who cares?!

Like many magicians, I imagine, I get pangs of imposter syndrome because I don’t do some things that ‘proper’ magicians do. My back palming is clunky. My second deal is inconsistent. And I’ve never done a full linking ring routine. Try as I might, I’ll never be an elegant manipulator or hardcore card shark.

And that’s okay.

Roger’s rule helped me realise that I should ignore those things and play to my strengths. In my case, creating offbeat ideas, comedy, and interacting with the audience. And anything that allows us to feel happier in our own skin, and become more distinctive performers, is surely a good thing.

Time to revel in being unrounded and embrace our wonderfully wonky selves!