Happy New Year! I hope you had a great Christmas and that you all feel well rested and ready for a productive and successful year to come. It’s been a very busy few months, and it’s good to be able to say that in the middle of a right royal arse of an economical meltdown. Many magicians may be reading this thinking how annoying it is to be banging on about being busy when a lot of people are having a quiet time of it. The truth is, to a certain extent, I am too, but it’s made me busier than ever. I’ll explain what I mean and hopefully get you to see that there is usually a way of making the most of a bad situation.
A few years ago, after sitting at home and bitching about getting hardly any work from my agent, I decided that I needed to be wholly responsible for my own success. The agents I work through are all lovely people, but they have loads of performers on their books. Therefore if someone gets in touch wanting to book a performer, they will, much of the time, be given a choice of many performers at varying fees. Of course any agent worth their salt will be busy and therefore won’t sell you the way you would sell yourself. There is nothing wrong with this but it decreases the chance of getting a booking by a great deal. As a performer you are in a reactive position rather than a proactive one. This was fine until I moved to Sheffield, away from my agents in London. Many event organisers, when given a list of performers, would rather go for the local guy who may do it for a lot less because it’s just down the road. Add to this a credit crunch and a recession and this becomes more of an issue. There are few things more demoralising that waiting desperately for that phone to ring or that email to make whatever quirky little noise you have decided to use as your alert. It reminds me of when I first fell in love. Every time the phone rang, I would run to it with a desperation that was, quite frankly, humiliating. Only to be greeted by someone selling me something, or my Mum. Something had to change. I decided to become proactive.
We seem to live in a society of blame. It seems hard-wired into us, in our culture, to constantly look outward when things go wrong. It seems to always be someone or something else’s fault. The traffic, the weather, the economic situation, the list goes on. I’m not saying that this is never true, but by focusing on the blame we can easily forget to look at what we ourselves can do to change things. A classic example is being late for a meeting or engagement. I have been at so many events where a performer will turn up an hour late and blame the traffic. Is this the fault of the traffic or the fault of the individual for not allowing enough time for the possibility of bad traffic? Would this person have been late if they had been turning up to pick up lottery winnings? No I’m not sitting here on my high horse saying that I am never late, (I am never late by the way), but if I am, it’s my own fault.
When we start to take responsibility it’s amazing what happens. I have heard this story from countless others in countless different businesses. They get into a corner and start to fight rather than curl up in a ball. They start to develop themselves by reading, studying and working and things begin to change. It’s not overnight but it happens. Cause will always lead to effect somewhere down the line and we have to put ourselves at cause. Now more than ever, as either self-employed people, business owners or employees, we have to make things happen and not wait for things to happen to us.
I am not for a second saying this is easy and it’s not just a case of thinking differently. This is about training your mind to be aware of a new way of looking at things, which takes practice and discipline. But it get’s easier. I am constantly catching myself moaning and blaming others, but the difference is that these days, after years, I am catching myself. I am aware of what I am doing and this gives me the ability to either accept the situation or do something about it.
So, going back to my original point. If you find yourself in a position where you are not working as much, don’t stop working. Use the time, reassess things and see what you can do to make things better. Nobody understands what you do as well as you do, and nobody can communicate this the way that you can.
So try it out for the New Year.
Put yourself at cause and see the effect.
Oh and I will still happily work through an agent, just the lovely ones. You know who you are.
Happy New Year everybody and thanks so much for reading.