positive thinking

Do The Work

The answer you’re looking for is in the work.

Want to be a better performer? Do a hundred shows. Then do a hundred more.

Want to be a better writer? Read and write every single day.

Want to excel at your craft? Work at it, every chance you can.

The answer you’re looking for is in the work.

But you knew that already, right? You know what it takes to get better because you’ve heard it before. The secret to getting better has been there all along, staring you in the face.

You can only ignore it for so long, until you admit that it’s up to you to bite the bullet and do the work.

There’s no secret shortcut or magic pill for getting from Point A to Point B. There’s no life hack or pro-tip that will take you from amateur to expert. There’s no substitute for hard work.

But I don’t have to tell you that. Deep down you already have all the answers you need. Deep down you know what needs to be done. Deep down you’re ready to do whatever it takes to get to the next level.

You don’t need fancy new gear or the latest and greatest tech. You don’t need everything to be perfect. You don’t need someone else’s permission. You have everything you need.

It’s time to stop waiting for the perfect moment. It’s time to stop holding yourself back from what you know needs to be done. It’s time to do what you’ve been waiting for.

It’s time to do the work.

Move On

Fact: The more you put yourself out there, the more criticism you will receive.

Some of that criticism will be useful. It will be helpful and needed. It will make you think and make you work harder. It will make you better.

But the other criticism? That will be nothing but negativity. It will be from people who don’t get what you’re doing and make no attempts to try. Call them haters, naysayers, your parents, whatever. They will knock you down because they can and nothing you do will ever please them.

Not all criticism is useful. I’ve had bad reviews, poor feedback, and negative comments that bothered me for days.  I didn’t learn anything from them. They didn’t help me improve my craft. They didn’t inspire me to better myself. If anything, they just made me feel horrible.

Once I was even greeted by a reviewer before the show who was very clearly not excited to be attending.

“I hate magic shows,” they told me.

I was on edge for the entire performance, worried they were going to give me a horrible review. Luckily they were kind with the write-up, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

One reviewer wrote that “Mark Toland is at the top of his game” and my show is a “MUST SEE” only to give me 4 out of 5 stars. It was good to know that when I’m at my best, it’s still only an 80%.

Honestly, I don’t care about the reviews. It’s nice to have a pull-quote or an award or a five star rating to add to the poster, but that’s not why I’m onstage.

I’m doing a show for other people. It’s entertainment. I want people to be completely enthralled for my entire performance. I don’t want them looking at their watch or texting their friends. I don’t want them coughing or shifting in their seats. I want their undivided attention so I can transport them somewhere else for an hour.

That’s not to say that a below-average review doesn’t affect me. It absolutely does! But I’ve learned how to deal with criticism so I can move forward and keep progressing in my career.

Negative feedback is expected and uncontrollable. The more you put yourself out there, the more you forge your own path; the more criticism you should expect to receive.

If you’re doing it right then you’re going to stir the pot. You’re going to provoke a wide range of reactions. The best thing you can do is to not respond.

No matter what happens, don’t acknowledge your criticism. Don’t complain, don’t argue, don’t fight fire with fire. There’s no need to go on a tweetstorm or write a long rant on your fan page. That looks petty and unprofessional.

I’ve faced more rejections than I can remember, been turned down on more projects than I can name. For every gig I’m booked for, another 20 events go in a different direction. But I refuse to let those failures keep me from succeeding.

Ignore the criticism. Shake it off or find someone you can vent to in private. Then move on and get back to work.

Listen

Listen to your audience. They’ll show you the way.

Are they laughing or cringing? Are they invested or distracted? If you can’t tell the difference just listen and they’ll let you know.

Listen to the critics. They’ll say what no one else will.

Savor the positive and learn from the negative. Don’t be defensive and don’t make excuses. This is how you get better.

Listen to the masses. Read the comments and respond in kind.

Sometimes it takes a small remark to help you make a big discovery. Sometimes you need a little reminder that you’re going in the right direction.

Listen to the experts. The answers are there for your taking.

They already made those mistake so you can make new ones. They already forged the path to make it a little easier for you.

Listen to yourself. Be honest, be open, be positive.

You’ll find out what’s best for you. You just have to be willing to listen.