One of the most valuable lessons in magic, or any field of endeavor, is futility–there is a time to just give up (thank you Stephen Falken). In magic, if you’re attacking a move that is quite difficult you need to decide if it is worth pursuing. For me, a move’s versatility is the key to deciding to continue slogging forward. For example, I eventually gave up on Sankey’s Revolution Count because it is only useful for the one effect that it’s used in and I was having a lot of difficulty making it look good. (Yes, you can shoe-horn it in to fit with some other routines but you know what I mean).

The other consideration is effectiveness. If a given move is much harder for me than for the “average” magician, why should I bang my head like those Monty Python flagellants while running uphill? In those cases, you’ll put in far more practice time and end up with a move that is far less than optimal–perhaps even sub-standard. Unfortunately, it’s experience in these situations that is the best teacher as to when to give up and when to push forward. After I took the lesson of futility to heart I came across Lennart Green’s Top Shot. Didn’t work on it very long before I realized that even with a tremendous amount of practice I wouldn’t get it to the level that it needs to be, so I gave it up. Later, I stumbled across the Kaps Flick, which can be used to achieve the effect of the top shot but has far more versatility and can be used for a lot of things–AND, it was far easier for me to do. (Kaps Flick demonstration video below)

Giving up on a move doesn’t mean you’ve failed or that you’re lazy. It means that you recognize that your time is better spent on moves that come more naturally to you and if you give THOSE moves the benefit of your dedicated practice you will have an end product that is exceptional, rather than average.

Of course, I’m not saying give up anything that is hard to do. There are times to push forward on things that may be very difficult for you to do, but again that’s the product of experience. The sooner you start to make these tough decisions the better you become at making them. Two things that were hard for me were the faro shuffle and the Goshman Pinch. Both are incredibly versatile and can be used in myriad effects so I decided to push forward and am glad I did. Took a long time, but sometimes it’s worth it–and sometimes it isn’t.