I recently heard a quote that said, "Treat the easy as if it is difficult and the difficult as if it was easy. That way you won't be tripped up by over confidence or by discouragement." Unfortunately I do not remember who was being quoted.
I was scheduled to do an afternoon of strolling entertainment. It was an easy booking. I estimated that it would take about fifteen minutes to load my props into my bag. I was tempted to wait to do it the morning of the booking because I was tired the night before. However, I decided to treat it like a difficult booking. I spent a half-hour the night before packing my prop bag and double checking all of my supplies. I'm glad that I did because an unexpected situation demanded all of my attention in the morning. When I finished dealing with it, I had just enough time to rush into make up and costume, grab my prop bag, and dash out the door. Treating the easy booking as if it was difficult made it easier to meet my obligations under difficult circumstances.
I have found that usually when I make a mistake it is the result of over confidence. More than once I have started an easy routine only to discover that the props were not properly set. My confidence that it was easy meant that I did not double check that things were ready.
Confidence is not bad in itself. You need the right amount of confidence to accomplish new tasks. Randy Munson was the featured clown for the 2011 California Clown Campin' educational program. The program's logo was a portrait of Circles, Randy's clown character, designed by Angel Contreras. I wanted to paint the logo onto a 36-inch silk scarf to use in some of my performances at California Clown Campin'. Angel is an outstanding artist and I knew that parts of his design would be difficult to reproduce on silk. Looking at the design as a whole was discouraging. I broke his design down into smaller areas and tackled them one at a time. I started with an area that I thought would be one of the easiest. I was very pleased by the way it turned out. Buoyed by confidence generated by that success, I decided to tackle the area that I thought might be the hardest. Again I was pleased with the results. Now I approached each area with the assurance that it wasn't as difficult as what I had already accomplished. I ended up finishing much faster than I anticipated. Response to the silk during my performances was great, and I received many positive comments about it from people participating in California Clown Campin'.
I've heard it said that some of the greatest advances are made by new comers. They don't realize that something is supposed to be difficult, so they go ahead and do it.
Difficulty is a subjective thing. Many other performers have commented on the technical difficulty of some of the things that I do in my magic performances. However, to me they aren't difficult. I approached learning them with the confidence of expecting them to be easy, but I broke them down into steps as if they were difficult. Learning each step increased my skill level. I have done them often enough that I don't have to think about how to do it. I perform them mainly on the basis of muscle memory. I am confident that I can perform them.
Confidence is important in performing. I aggravated a herniated disc this spring. During my first performance following recuperation I found that those things I was confident about performing were easy to perform. Those things that I thought might be difficult, particularly juggling tricks, were difficult. It became a self fulfilling prophecy. I hesitated a little due to my lack of confidence which threw off my timing making it hard to complete the tricks successfully.
How can you treat easy things as if they are difficult? How can you prevent over confidence from allowing you to overlook necessary preparations? How can you treat the difficult as if it were easy? How can you break it down into easier steps? How can you boost your confidence?