Focus & Finish

My magic mentor Jeff McBride, wrote me a letter. “It’s great Romany, that you’ve lots of creative new ideas but it seems to me that you avoid finishing projects and don’t spend your time to polish the piece until it’s really finished.”

Deep in denial, I ignored Jeff and I ignored his letter. Except that I did pin it on my notice board where I could see it every day. Each time it caught my eye, I became a sulky 5 year old and stamped my foot in a very spoiled brat sort of fashion.

Then my friend, the new winner of the Dutch championships, Ray Joel, came over to visit. He brought with him ‘The Secret’, a film that has become a world bestseller. The film is a compilation of speakers explaining the Law of Attraction, how we attract what we concentrate on, good or bad. How we manifest our dreams by focus. I had known most of this before but the principle I really hadn’t grasped is that we create WHATEVER we put our attention on. For as long as I’ve been interested in performance magic, I’ve been focusing on my frustration that my act isn’t good enough, isn’t finished, isn’t the stuff of my dreams. And guess what? The act wasn’t finished; my professional life wasn’t what I’d dreamed of, etc. Whatever you focus on you create! Doh!!

After watching the film a couple of times I changed my mind and my story. My story was now that my act IS finished and in demand all over the world, I have an abundant income, I enjoy the challenge of finishing projects and I’m buying a Diva convertible car on the profits!

Before Ray left, he casually said. ‘You know Romany, the reason you don’t finish anything is because you flit like a butterfly from this to that and don’t focus…’

Wow, truth hurts. I angrily replied, ”How dare you? That’s a really offensive thing to say.”

Ray said, “Why would I want to offend you? I’m just pointing it out.”

An hour later, after I had taken my pride for a stompy stompy walk, I returned knowing that he and Jeff were spot on. And, that it was time to change. Change to the new mantra of Focus & Finish.

I promise you that that very week, I did start to focus. And while focusing on finishing, I discovered why I avoided it in the first place. Finishing is terrifying. If a piece is never finished, I don’t have to show it to any one and it’s safe from critical eyes. Maybe, when the piece is packaged and ready, it will be apparent that it wasn’t worth the work in the first place. If I don’t finish it, I am safe. Safe but always saying, “Ah, I have this wonderful idea…” Always feeling a little sad, that if only this wonderful dream of mine was present then more fantastic adventures would happen.

Look at the stars of the magic convention circuit. We love them not only because of their original ideas and presentations but because they’ve had the tenacity to polish their creation bright as bright. I’m thinking of Gaetan Bloom, Topaz, David Williamson, Tommy Wonder… When we think of their acts, there’s no doubt that they are finished and the product of intense focus. They don’t bumble or wing it.

I shall not bumble. My fingers will be sure, because I have practised until the point of certainty. I will not wing it either. I will turn off the phone and shut off the laptop. I will not make another cup of coffee. I will not write an article about finishing things before I have started finishing things….

I have a confession to make. I wrote the article above in the summer of 2007. And then… guess what? I didn’t finish it. It’s now nearly 2009! But… I can report at least that I did change my behaviour and for the last year I did focus on finishing my act without being distracted by seductive new ideas. And…well, it’s getting there. You’ll be able to judge for yourself next time you see it.

And by the way, which dream did you want to finish???

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