We place too much focus on magic
As you go through this week, try keeping an ear and an eye out for inner dialogue and conversations with others that start with “I can’t” and “I’m not good at”. As someone who is actively trying to lean into their strengths and find support around my weaknesses, I’ve been pondering the difference between that and mentally checking out of difficult things that would be in my best interest to work on.
The trigger for me has been seeing other people who are great at something I’d like to be at least competent in, and comparing myself to them. The gap in those two realities often makes me adorn that person with supernatural status and when I do that subtly seem to chip away at my belief that I can achieve the same. And that’s got me wondering…
Why do we often believe more in magic than we believe in ourselves?
When we go to a magic show, we know that the magician is not actually able to do the things that they appear to be doing. But if they are really, really good at their craft, they can get us to believe that they are in fact exempt from the laws of physics.
But of course, they aren’t. And we know they aren’t.
We say “How is s/he doing that?”
We scratch our head, come up with some theories, and then return our attention to the stage to be entertained by their next illusion.
If we only came to the show to be entertained and the magician put on a solid show, we would leave the show amazed by their execution, but knowing that they were really good at their craft and not actually defying the laws of physics. However what if we left that show inspired by the feats that they performed? What if we thought to ourselves “I really want to do what s/he just did?”
We might set out to learn a bit about them. Maybe even reach out to them to ask them some questions. Maybe we would start looking up videos on YouTube or finding books on Amazon or listening to podcasts on magic. Regardless of the tactic, our immediate instinct would probably be to do some research on how magic works.
If we dug deep enough in our research, we would find three layers of fabric that make magic, magic.
1) Stories. We would hear about the first magician. (By the way if you are interested, the timeline of magic on Wikipedia is fascinating). We would hear about how magic travelled around the world. About the “greatest” magician of all time. About masters and apprentices. The lineage. We would find out that magic has a rich history, and that we could probably spend a lifetime getting lost in it.
2) Systems. We would start to learn about the portfolio of illusions that magicians have created over time. With that, we would learn about the systems they created that made these illusions work. We would find that there is a never-ending list of illusions, as legendary illusions are the hook that stories about magic are made of. And that every single illusion had a system, which meant it could be repeated, taught, passed on to another magician.
3) Laws. We would find out that while there are thousands of tricks and systems, there is a unifying set of axioms that bind all of them together and qualify them as magic. These are the laws of magic. Now laws can be innovated on, but they exist for a reason. They provide a foundation for common understanding amongst magicians, for the way that the practice of magic evolves, and for how tricks are taught and developed.
Magic, while mystical to the layman, is little more than stories handed down, systems put into practice and laws adhered to.
Magic is also in the eye of the beholder. Magic can be anything. Any of us can perform magic. Certainly some of us may have an increased genetic or natural inclination for a particular form of magic, but what’s more important than those advantages is the fascination one has for the narrative, the consistency one has in their practice and the commitment one has for the philosophy that drives their transformation. Those things coupled with desire and self-belief can, and will, turn anyone into a magician.
I bring this up because in the case of ‘actual magic’, we all know this intuitively and accept it. But in many fundamental and critical areas of our lives where we may struggle, the difficulties we have experienced cloud this simple formula. Trauma can often be a blocker to our ability to logically process some forms of magic.
All of this brings me back to the two things we bring to any form of magic we might master: desire and self-belief.
What makes any one of us different from any other human’s ability to become a master of magic? Only desire and self-belief.
Mastery takes years. When you see someone who has what you want, 9 out of 10 times, that person has put years into it. They’ve spent years listening to the stories, learning the systems and honoring the laws. Even when we see someone who has achieved mastery at a young age, we often fail to acknowledge how much of their young life was consumed developing their mastery.
Most of us desire things. Where we often struggle is self-belief.
Let’s be honest with ourselves that we can all work on our self-belief. I know I can. We all have flaws, areas of weakness and shortcomings. We have been told a lot of things over the course of our lives that have chipped away at our self-belief.
You and I are not alone in that experience. That’s a universal human reality. We have ALL had that experience.
Each day, let’s actively practice self-belief and find out just how much magic we are capable. Step on the stage. Do one thing that you honestly don’t believe you are good at. Just to edit the narrative that says “you can and will try do it.” That’s a huge start.
When we are in the audience, it’s totally appropriate to enjoy the show and marvel at the magic of others. But being in the audience is not living our purpose, it’s being entertained. To live our purpose, we have to get on the stage. To get on the stage, we have to understand that all of the real magic happens behind the curtains.
Have a grateful day my friend!