Rambles | Self-Belief
By Steve Faulkner - Tuesday, May 26, 2020
Every time I agree to perform, do a talk, run a training programme, publish a review, upload a tutorial or write a blog such as the one you're reading now (thanks), there's a little voice, no scrap that, a big voice that rudely interrupts the proceedings by trying to talk me out of it. It both fascinates and annoys me that after all these years this voice is still around. Even after decades of evidence to the contrary (mostly) the little swine can be heard very clearly banging on about how I'm not skilled, talented or qualified enough for such a task.
Many of us have these potentially self-limiting beliefs, and they can manifest in various ways. For some, this is just a good old bit of imposter syndrome to keep them on their toes, but for others, these beliefs can prevent them from (coach-speak) achieving their full potential or (in life-coach-speak) fulfilling their dreams, and (in human-speak) doing the stuff they really want to do. Even worse, if left to fester and grow, these beliefs can calcify into apparent truths, causing many to stop trying and admit defeat. It sounds a little dark, but I've seen it so many times. Artists, creators, entrepreneurs, craftspeople, dancers, singers, jugglers, street performers and of course magicians who gave up prematurely. I also now see it every day on social media. Many people, from the start, were convinced we were all doomed, not going to cope and lose our <@it. Much of this was even before the proverbial horse was out of the gate. The voice got too loud too quickly.
For me, personally, the lack of self-belief has been latently profound. On the face of it, and something I've been told by my peers since I was a kid, I have succeeded in everything I've done. As a young teenager, it started with breakdancing (a story I'll come back to in a later post). Once the floodgates of learning had opened, it was skating, guitar, juggling and then professionally street performing and magic. But there was a whole load of stuff at which I privately failed. And if I was given the opportunity to develop my career, with a risk of public failure (usually an audition) I would retreat. After the first UK episode of Fool Us, the producers called me and sent me an application. The last question was, 'do you think you can fool Penn and Teller'. I answered' No'.
Ten years later, with a lot of work behind me, I can now go live on YouTube and not be devastated at a negative comment or a low viewing figure. I can perform a trick that may not have 'killed' and understand it's part of the process. I can send this blog with the risk that it may be (politely) rejected, and I can get to work on rebuilding my business and family after this very challenging experience.
The voice is still there, but it's like an annoying little politician who still won't accept the evidence that clearly counters the argument. But now I can turn down the volume. A big part of my work is helping people do the same thing. It takes time, but it's worth it. So if you want to perform, you can. If you want to nail a bottom deal, you can. And if you want to take more risks to get closer to where you want to go, you can.
It isn't about mindless high-fiving optimism of positive thinking. So It's about eradicating the idea of perfect, ignoring the nay-sayers and insecure 'advice' givers who don't want to see you succeed, forgetting about 'talent' and understanding that you have to be honest and openly discuss the issues we all have as magicians. Then we can really get to work and put the tools into action. We’ll be going into this in more detail, if this one doesn't get rejected.
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