The Rolling Stones Didn’t Have a Back-up Plan

At least, I doubt they did. To create their unique sound requires focus, not a safety net.

When I was a college professor, I advised students with varied interests. Some wanted to be game programmers, but studied web programming just in case. Some were musicians, who wanted a college degree should the band fail. I advised them to make a choice, throw their hearts and souls into that choice and create a product (themselves) better than any of the competition.

It was easy advice to give, even if some parents (and some administrators) would have preferred that I tell them to stay in school no matter what.

The advice was not so easy to take. Almost five years ago, I left a tenured asst. professorship to perform magic. The show was pretty simple back then, and I had a very limited clientele and market appeal. I worried that I would fail, so I accepted a job part-time teaching at another college. I played it safe. That was a bad idea.

The show grew. It was fun and people enjoyed it. I went from about 10 shows a year to over 75 a year in the first year performing. But I paid a cost. The twenty plus hours a week that I spent on teaching prevented me from creating the show of my dreams. Brainstorming never happened. New effects weren’t designed. In short, my back-up plan failed my primary plan. I returned to teaching for after a year and taught for the next three years.

On the day I decided to re-launch the show, I posted a sign above my desk. It reads: “The Rolling Stones didn’t have a back-up plan.” Since then, I refused several opportunities to hedge my bet. Since finishing my last teaching assignment at the end of May, I have made more progress designing scripts, making illusions and costumes, and creating the show I always wanted. I am on schedule to launch the new show (working title Faescape and the Magical Explorer) this fall.

Jim Perry Magic doesn’t have a back-up plan.

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