Magic Tricks and Impostor Syndrome

Magic isn’t magic to the magician, because he knows the trick.

More than that, he knows how many times he had to practice the trick to make it convincing.  And he knows all the other tricks he had to master before he could even attempt the one he’s performing now, to the amazement of his audience.

You don’t see many magicians wowing his audience, and then saying “It’s really not a big deal, because, you see, it’s just this mirror here, and the fishing line goes through here and over that pulley.  I know, it’s kind of stupid, I’m sorry, I’m ashamed I even showed it to you.”

But lots of very talented people do this to themselves all the time.  They aw-shucks themselves out of recognizing that they did something really great, or really meaningful, or really noteworthy … just because THEY were the ones that did it.

Sometimes when we achieve long-term goals, we look around and wonder why we ever thought this mountain peak was impressive when that one over there is so much taller.  Often, we reach the summit and then wonder if anyone noticed we’re not very good mountain climbers after all.  Or, you know, that we’re not very good at sticking with only one metaphor, since we started by talking about magicians, which as we all know make terrible mountain climbers, what with all the disappearing mountains and self-untying knots and unnecessary showmanship.


Anyway, the trick is to remember that the magician performs not for himself, but for his audience; and as long as they don’t know the trick, it really is magic.


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