Passion vs. Comfort

Dear Friends:

Tobias here. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about comfort. I was injured in a car crash a couple of months ago. Not badly, but enough so I had difficulty walking more than a few steps at a time for several weeks. I’ve been spending far more time “taking it easy” than I normally do, and more time dealing with pain than is usual for me. Of, course “dealing with pain,” is nearly synonymous with “trying to get comfortable,” and that got me thinking about what I know to be my own biggest enemy: my comfort zone. I expect that might be true for you, too.

But what does that actually mean? Have you heard the fable of how to boil a frog? The premise is that if you drop a frog into boiling water, it will jump out as soon as it touches the water. But if you put the frog in a pot of water that is at a very comfortable temperature for it, then slowly raise the temperature to boiling, you’ll cook that frog alive!

The challenge, then, is not to be that comfy frog. This sounds easy, but life and culture will conspire against you. Inertia is real, and we all find it more comfortable to sit tight with our current situation than to take the actions that will actually improve our lives. At the extreme, this is a reason why people stay in abusive relationships. It’s why they get fat and can’t lose the weight they’ve put on, even though they say they want to. It’s the reason people stay in jobs way below their capability level.

Better to live with the bad that we know, than to take a chance on what we don’t—even though that “unknown” will almost certainly be better than what we have now. We’re all a bit afraid of the unknown.

What does this mean when it comes to performing magic? For one thing, it means that if you are truly dedicated to improving your magic, you have to make that a priority. That means actually setting aside time without other distractions each day to work on it. If you don’t have a set time, and don’t stick to that time, you’ll find yourself putting it off. “Urgent” situations will “require” you to react to them, and those reactions will suck up all of your time. That’s just the human way.

Unfortunately, we get comfortable dealing with those urgent things, even as we complain about them—that e-mail, or social media post, or something your friend wants you to do with them—and as a result, we find we’re just too busy to do that thing—rehearsing or creating new magic, for example—that we know is really most important.

I’ve certainly found this to be true for all of the books I’ve written. I might have an idea, and even an outline for the book, and I work on bits of it “as time allows,”— sometimes for a year or more — but the book is never going to get done. until I decide I’m going to set aside at least an hour or two every morning to work on the book, and that I’ll do that work before I doanything else. Not allowed during that time are things like e-mail, phone calls or interruptions of any kind…maybe a cup of coffee, but nothing that gets me anywhere near the “reactive” side of my life and business. Those things are my “comfort zone of avoidance.” They are my way of feeling I’m being productive, without having to actually engage with the things that are most important to me in terms of achieving my life purpose.

Oddly, none of those avoidance activities come even close to being as much fun as getting fully engaged with the important projects that move me and my business forward. However, because I’ve done them all many times, they’re all “comfortable.” No risk involved.

And that’s deadly.

It’s up to each one of us really. Do you want a comfortable life, doing all the things you’ve always done, and never really moving forward? Or do you choose a life of adventure and accomplishment? The former is okay, if that’s really who you are. Most people are like that, and it seems to work for them.

However, if you have the kind of vision and passion that makes you want to change to world, that makes you want to leave the kind of mark on the world that only you could leave—well then, it’s time you made your comfort zone your enemy, too.

That’s one of the reasons we created the Magic & Mystery School. We love it when students come and challenge us—when they bring us perspectives on performance we might never have encountered before. We love challenging our students to take their art to the next level. Everyone who comes through the door presents a unique challenge, and we live for that! When we find ourselves doing only what we’ve done before, only the things we’re comfortable with—that feels like failure, even if we’re making good money doing it. That’s part of the reason we’re always trying out new classes.

Some sell out almost immediately (like the “Breakthrough Magic” session we’re doing in August with Joshua Jay and Andi Gladwin, which sold out in just 48 hours)—others take a bit longer, and some never get the interest we thought they would. But every offering stretches us. Each new offering is a new adventure and each brings new challenges and learning. Each one moves us towards our goal of re-imagining and lifting the level of what it means to be a magician.

Whether or not you ever come to one of our classes in Las Vegas, or join us for our online offerings, I hope these Museletters (especially this one!) have challenged you a bit and help with your own growth. Even if you’re one of those ensconced firmly within your own comfort zone—I hope you’re enjoying reading of the adventures of those of us who have chosen the less comfortable path.

On the other hand, if you are ready to step out of your zone of comfort and ready for a personal challenge, please do check out our current offerings. There are some interesting events coming up, from Jeff’s Winter Training in February to Medicine & Magic (you don’t have to be a Doctor!), the 3-Day Master Class (we supply the masters—you don’t have to be one) and Real-World Close-up in March. Each one is guaranteed to push you out of your personal comfort zone. You’ll make new friends, encounter new ideas, and, most of all, find yourself challenged in interesting ways. We’ll also be posting some new classes and events for the coming months.

Whatever your decisions about getting out of your comfort zone for the coming month—I wish you many happy adventures. Remember, the real magic is there, just outside your comfort zone. The sooner you can break through, the sooner you get to experience it!

Best wishes.

Tobias Beckwith

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