How to Develop Magical Confidence – Secrets of a Magician (Maxim #1)

There are few better people to learn how to develop confidence from than top-class stage performers, particularly magicians. Over the years, I’ve picked up many self-help books on how to self-confidence. Many of them remained unfinished, on my shelf. No wonder someone called them shelf-help!

However some books did provide real value, and a few were notably useful. I am embarking on a serial writings on developing confidence starting this week, especially on the ideas that worked for me.

One of those useful books that I truly learned from is Win the Crowd by Steve Cohen. As a professional magician, Steve had spent his life time collecting many secrets and psychological principles that make magic work. If you remove the illusions, sleight of hands and tricks, magicians are masters at attracting interest and creating awesome impressions on the audience. They’re masters of peak-levels of confidence.  At the center of his core principles, Steve had designed five guiding rules, what he called – The Maxims of Magic. Magicians follow them to convey confidence during their performances. He shared his maxims with the readers so that they can think the way magicians do, super-boost their confidence and get into peak-level performance state. I will share one maxim a day in my blog this week. Let’s begin.


Maxim One: Be Bold

Take bold risks. Don’t shy away about the actions you take. Don’t shy away from the words you speak. Don’t apologize.

According to Steve, one of the things that separate amateurs from experienced magicians is guilt. Magicians are often required to hide objects in his hand while keeping a straight face. It’s tougher than it looks. Try it. Try hiding an object (example a coin) all day in your hand while talking to someone, while doing your daily routine stuffs. Be natural, act normal, as though nothing is there. You’ll soon notice that it’s not easy to act as if you’re not hiding anything. Usually, your facial expressions or awkward body gestures will give away hints. People can intuitively pick up these signals. They may not know exactly what you’re hiding, but they know you’re hiding something!

A good magician is able to keep secrets from his audience without feeling guilty. He’s able to pick up or drop an object totally unnoticed while performing, all the while acting and talking perfectly natural, as if “nothing has happened”. Now, these skills take great amount of practices. But the first step is to be bold. To take risk. It takes guts. And the first step to internalize this maxim is to stop being afraid of other people and what they think of you.

When you’re bold, you will get results that you’ve never had before, because you’re doing things that you’ve never done before. ~ Steve Cohen

One of Steve’s friends who works in a business organization added: “Don’t ask first; just apologize later”. Whatever you think of doing, whatever new idea that you have, just do it. Do something new. This is boldness in a nutshell. If your new idea doesn’t work, you can apologize later. If it does, you’re a hero. Are you willing to take new risks?


How Can You Be Bolder?

Steve suggested that you can do it gradually. If your goal is to speak publicly in front of a thousand people, don’t jump at the stage straightaway. Start in a non-threatening location, for example, an elevator with a stranger. Take a tiny risk, start a conversation. You can begin by complimenting something that he or she is wearing. This simple action forces a reaction. By doing that, you’ve taken a small risk, by taking control of the situation. You’ve done something bold. What’s the worst thing that can happen? Exactly, the pain of being ignored or rejected will pass so fast that you won’t even notice it. But what if you manage to build rapport with the stranger, and make a new friend? Isn’t that worth risking? On the other hand, if you hold back and wait passively, sure, you’ll not lose anything. That’s right. But you may also wait forever and never gain anything.

Dare to speak up. Be more visible. Be larger than life. No need for apologies.

Steve has another useful drill which he called the Quarter Load. A quarter is a US 25 cents coin. Instead of just hiding a coin in your hand that I mentioned earlier, take a step further. This may sound crazy. Drop a quarter into someone’s shirt pocket (or any opening pocket) while greeting him (you may want to start this with people you know instead of strangers). They call this loading pockets, you’re not picking pockets but you’re dropping or loading something. In the book, Steven explained this technique in some details, but the idea is to constantly find the opportunities to be crazily bold, and do something out of the ordinary, out of your comfort zone.  By successfully loading someone’s pocket, you’re making him a quarter richer, and added 1 more point to your confidence level.

Steve had done this thousands of times. Sure, he got caught a few times, but hey, no one was offended or harmed. The drill is a personal challenge that allows you to experience a small victory over another person. Every time you successfully do it, you’ll experience a thrill inside. But don’t spoil it by saying “Hey look, there’s something in your pocket!” As your small victories accumulate, you will gradually feel that people aren’t as scary or as intimidating as you first thought. You’ll build up your confidence gradually and surely. One compliment at a time. One load at a time. One bold risk at a time.

Can you think up a similar drill of your own? Please do share.

Be bold.

Maxim #2 coming up tomorrow. Stay tuned.





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