The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
Terry
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The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby Terry » January 5th, 2017, 1:21 pm


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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby performer » January 5th, 2017, 2:04 pm

I don't think there are any rules. A lot depends on the individual personality and what he feels an aptitude for. And some people have natural attributes which helps them succeed faster than others. A lot depends on the enthusiasm of the student and what he feels drawn to. With some people it is going to be quick learning and for some it will be slow learning. Some get there quickly and some get there slowly. And many never get there at all.

I got good at magic within 6 months of starting. In fact just as good as I am now at least in close quarter magic. But I have found other skills much more difficult to learn and in some cases impossible. A lot depends on who teaches you and your own aptitude and enthusiasm.

I really don't think there are any rules.

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby brianarudolph » January 5th, 2017, 2:33 pm


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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby performer » January 5th, 2017, 2:51 pm

brianarudolph wrote:And don't forget:

http://despair.com/products/ineptitude



I looked at that. I just can't enjoy doing something poorly. I just can't. If I can't master something I just give up. I can certainly try hard but if it is not to be it is not to be. And I surrender.

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby brianarudolph » January 5th, 2017, 3:56 pm

performer wrote:I looked at that. I just can't enjoy doing something poorly. I just can't. If I can't master something I just give up. I can certainly try hard but if it is not to be it is not to be. And I surrender.


My sarcasm via the despair poster was not meant for folks like you who will work to achieve mastery and stay hidden until they either achieve it or surrender; it was meant for those who think it's a legitimate motivational poster and enthusiastically adhere to its philosophy.

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby performer » January 5th, 2017, 4:21 pm

Oh, there is nothing wrong with the philosophy. It is just that it is not for me personally. As I mentioned we are all different.

However where MAGIC is concerned I have to confess I really DETEST to see it done badly. It bothers me intensely and much more than it does with anyone else, possibly because I spent so much time on it myself. It may well be fine for a participant to enjoy doing something poorly but alas where magic is concerned I can't bear it.

And I will telll you what
I find even worse. I can stand it if someone is bad and knows he is bad. I won't like it but I will suffer it. I might not grin and bear it but I will at least bear it. However, if I see someone who is useless but is under the delusion he is good that does bother me more. I will not grin and I will not bear it. However, I will force myself to suffer it. Maybe in silence-maybe not.

Alas worst of all is when I see someone mediocre and the entire world of magic is heaping praise on them. That I find the most insufferable of all. I think I am in the land of Alice in Wonderland and can't believe what I am seeing. Atrocious performers with the personalities of dial tones, over presenting and talking too much, or just plain dull. Yet they are praised to the heavens by "magicians" for no earthly reason that I can imagine. I keep seeing visions of the phrase "Emperor's new clothes" and am reduced to a stage of great wonderment at the way everyone is deluding themselves about everyone else. The blind leading the blind.

The standard of magic is generally atrocious with very few exceptions. A tiny, tiny few exceptions. I do realise a lot of people pay lip service to this notion but then go on to praise the unworthy.

I learned to live with it slightly better when I read what Albert Goshman once wrote. He said, "It has always been thus and will continue to be thus" and implied that there was nothing that can be done about it. He was probably right but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

And I don't.

brianarudolph
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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby brianarudolph » January 5th, 2017, 5:27 pm

And that is how you replace subtext with exposition. At least now (hopefully) it will now get through to the right people, performer. Thanks!

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby erdnasephile » January 5th, 2017, 5:43 pm



I find it amusing (and ironic) that the essay writer's previous post was entitled "How to stop being a workaholic"

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby erdnasephile » January 5th, 2017, 6:00 pm

performer wrote:I don't think there are any rules. A lot depends on the individual personality and what he feels an aptitude for. And some people have natural attributes which helps them succeed faster than others. A lot depends on the enthusiasm of the student and what he feels drawn to. With some people it is going to be quick learning and for some it will be slow learning. Some get there quickly and some get there slowly. And many never get there at all...


I think this is a good point and gets to the nature/nurture part of being "amazingly great" at something.

However, the original essay largely coincides with statements from Malcolm Gladwell (in Outliers) Re: the necessity of Flight Time to be a phenom.

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby Joe Mckay » January 5th, 2017, 6:25 pm

Penn Jillette says flight time is the key as well.

Just having hundreds/thousands of performances behind you will guarantee that you become good at performing.

Audiences can smell that experience and confidence within the first minute of a show.

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby lybrary » January 5th, 2017, 7:03 pm


While not wrong, it leaves out several other even more important characteristics. I have been fascinated by that question for many years. From my own limited experience coaching, mentoring and observing here are my two cents. The time alone one spends on a skill means very little. Yes, it is a necessary condition, without several years of training something one will not become really good at it, but what is a lot more important is how one trains. Here is a little experiment anybody can do. Do 10 push ups every day for 10 years. At the end of the 10 years you will still only be able to do about 10 push ups. Ok, you will be able to do a few more but you will not be able to do 100 push ups. But if you train right you can achieve to do 100 push ups quite easily. The important point is to train the right way, constantly try to exceed your last best performance, periodize, have the right rest phases, be mentally engaged at the training, etc. I don't want to go into training theory, but just doing something for long enough is not going to work by itself.

Having observed and coached athletes try and fail, the biggest challenge is being mentally engaged at the training. This only happens if one really likes to learn the sport or skill. I personally think it is impossible to make somebody like something. I have seen this many times from misguided parents who push their kids into a particular sport and want them to succeed in it. Initially most kids try to please their parents and really make an effort 'wanting to love the sport' but eventually their nature breaks through and sometime during their teens they stop because progress is slow and they just don't like it enough. Even if it is not the parents pushing, kids and teens sometimes just do not know what they want to do, or where they think they could be really good. So they bounce around never really doing anything at all.

With this, perhaps the most important part is to find your passion. What sport, skill, etc. do you love so much that you are willing to spend at least several years of your life pursuing. To become world class 'pursuing' means essentially doing only this one thing, one sport, one instrument, one skill, etc. And even then, for many, even if they found their passion, they do not have the mental discipline to pursue it through thick and thin for several years. To become world class at anything requires a certain mindset, a certain mental toughness that many of the pampered kids just don't have. Life these days provides many distractions and many opportunities. One has to be able to focus and concentrate on one or two at the most.

Two more tips for the interested ones. To find out where you are really good at look at rate of improvement not absolute achievement. Rate of improvement is a much better indicator than at what level you are currently absolutely. This is particularly important for young folks where most parents and unfortunately also most coaches, who have no clue, compare on absolute measures.

Second tip for the day: work on your strengths. This is perhaps the most counter intuitive of all, but it has been studied by scientists and found to be true. If you really want to break through to a world class level anywhere you must have one particular aspect where you are better than anybody else in the world. And the only way to acquire that is to find something you are already pretty good at with relatively little training and then hone it to almost super-human perfection. In magic this coincides with the ability to do one trick better than anybody in the world. If you can do that you will get noted and perhaps even be able to base a career on that. An example from a sport I know a little bit about - baskeball. The reason why a generally speaking average player like Dennis Rodman could play in a top team like the Chicago Bulls was because Rodman was one of the best rebounding. From older days another similar player was Moses Malone. These guys were not good shooters, not the greatest in assists, not the smartest on the floor, but they were gods on the boards and rebounded like no other. They had one particular skill they were better than most everybody and that allowed them to play in the NBA, and play an important role. Find that one aspect you are good at and make it a lot better if you want to become truly great in any field.
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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby performer » January 6th, 2017, 1:36 am

Joe Mckay wrote:Penn Jillette says flight time is the key as well.

Just having hundreds/thousands of performances behind you will guarantee that you become good at performing.

Audiences can smell that experience and confidence within the first minute of a show.


I don't think it necessarily guarantees you become good at performing. It is just as likely to give you more practice in doing things the wrong way and the bad habits get embedded within you and with the passing of time becomes very hard to remove.

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby Jackpot » January 6th, 2017, 9:32 pm

lybrary wrote:The reason why a generally speaking average player like Dennis Rodman could play in a top team like the Chicago Bulls was because Rodman was one of the best rebounding. From older days another similar player was Moses Malone. These guys were not good shooters, not the greatest in assists, not the smartest on the floor, but they were gods on the boards and rebounded like no other. They had one particular skill they were better than most everybody and that allowed them to play in the NBA, and play an important role. Find that one aspect you are good at and make it a lot better if you want to become truly great in any field.


While I can agree with much of what you wrote, with all do respect and for the sake of discussion, I will accept your characterization of Rodman, but Moses Malone was a well rounded player. Although he was a better rebounder than scorer, during his career Malone averaged over 20 points per game, and shot 49.5% from the field (above average) and 76.0% from the free throw line (average). He played a position that did not present many opportunities to create assists.

When he retired after the 1994-95 season he was the 6th leading scorer of all time. (His scoring numbers still hold up as he is currently the 8th leading scorer of all time.)
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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 8th, 2017, 5:28 pm

The author of the blog posted by the OP states: There’s no one who is great at his profession who hasn’t been doing it for at least 6 years — no designer, no programmer, no carpenter, no architect, no surgeon, no teacher, no musician, no artist … you get the point. I dare you to name one. Most have been doing it for over a decade, and are still looking to improve."

If that were categorically true, then this 4-year old boy would not be able to play the piano like this:

https://youtu.be/omuYi2Vhgjo

Some people simply have an extraordinary gift for something; others, it may take years, even decades, and then, they might only begin to hit the tip of the iceberg (me, for example). But yes, consistent hard work and dedication over a sustained period of time can get you to a professional level. It's just that some people come into this world with the deck stacked in their favor. Some attribute it to the child being an "old soul" who lived before and achieved mastery in a previous lifetime(s); others chalk it up to natural talent or DNA. But whatever the reason might be, it is a reality, because there have been a multitude of cases of child prodigy in various fields...

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby lybrary » January 8th, 2017, 8:26 pm

Jackpot wrote:While I can agree with much of what you wrote, with all do respect and for the sake of discussion, I will accept your characterization of Rodman, but Moses Malone was a well rounded player. Although he was a better rebounder than scorer, during his career Malone averaged over 20 points per game, and shot 49.5% from the field (above average) and 76.0% from the free throw line (average). He played a position that did not present many opportunities to create assists.

When he retired after the 1994-95 season he was the 6th leading scorer of all time. (His scoring numbers still hold up as he is currently the 8th leading scorer of all time.)

Certainly Moses Malone was a darn good basketball player, no doubt. But he is primarily known for his rebounding, particularly offensive rebounding. I am sure you know that when a center makes an offensive rebound it typically is followed by him scoring. So part of the reason of his high lifetime score is his great offensive rebounding. It is a consequence of that.
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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby performer » January 8th, 2017, 8:41 pm

I don't think it takes six years to be good at something. If it does then the student must be bloody useless. Sure there are exceptions such as people who go to medical school for 7 years or that sort of thing but even then the doctors manage to kill you anyway when they get their medical licence which sort of proves my point.

I learned to be good at card magic after 6 months of study. In fact probably better than I am now come to think of it. The hardest thing I tried to learn was how to do psychic readings. I found that hell on earth to learn but I still managed to put out material on it for magicians after only four years. I learned stage hypnosis and put out a video course on the matter after three years. I was getting great results as a children's entertainer after my second show. And I can assure you that I am a slow learner.

Sorry, but this theory is a load of old cobblers.

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby webbmaster » April 26th, 2017, 10:36 am

Yet I know people in a number of fields who have put entire lifetimes into various areas and still consider themselves to be trying to learn something new every day. These people never feel they've mastered anything but see it all as an ongoing process.

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby performer » April 26th, 2017, 11:03 am

Actually in many cases the longer you have been doing it the crappier you get. I bet if the majority of the people on this forum were to examine their competence now compared to their competence when they were in their early twenties they will realise they have gone downhill rather than forwards. This applies particularly to amateur magicians who don't get that much opportunity to perform and the distraction of their regular work has blunted their passion somewhat.

That often goes for professionals too. They drop details over the years. I have written about this before. They get to a certain height and then slowly deteriorate over time. They just plain aren't as good as they used to be.

As an example look around at the membership of the average magic club. You will cringe at their lack of talent. However, perhaps if you saw these people in their youth you may well be surprised at how good they were.

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby webbmaster » May 3rd, 2017, 11:18 am

I think you have it backwards. In the arts the ones that keep at it keep getting better and those that thought they mastered something after six months or whatever aren't delving deep enough.

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Re: The Only Way to Become Amazingly Great at Something

Postby performer » May 3rd, 2017, 3:14 pm

I can assure you that nobody delves deeper into magic than I do. However, I still managed to master card magic after 6 months. And my other skills in less than 6 years. However, that doesn't mean to say that you stop learning. I study magic and everything else I do every day and will probably do until the day I die or go senile. All I am saying is that if it takes you six years to master something you might as well give up and try something else.

Once you master something you have to keep studying it otherwise you will go to seed. And studying it might even make you better. In other words you have mastered it even more. But you still "mastered" the skill ages ago. However, where magicians are concerned they tend to get crappier and crappier the older they get. Even and especially the big names because they become complacent, lose the passion or drop details right left and centre. Not all of them of course----just most of them.


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