Meeting in the Middle!

Gabriel Z.

Elite Member
Apr 26, 2013

I just had a thought , and rather than letting it go past like other thoughts that go through my mind thought I would broach.

I tend to go to extremes on things most of the time. Such as with my Up The Ladder ahem. With that being said when should you ask for a helping hand?...I am sure there are many people like myself that put a ton of effort into what they do and don't yield a great amount of results ..... Then there are people that ask for a tremendous amount of help and yet put in little to no effort on there part, yielding the same results. What do you think is the happy medium?
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Elite Member
Sep 13, 2008
Personally, I tend to do as much as I can on my own. I learn best that way - doing my own research, synthesis, and application.

I only ask for help when I genuinely can't figure something out, and then I only ask for enough help to get past that particular block. Then I go back to doing it myself.

My wife is kind of the opposite - she wants a teacher first, and will figure it out herself if she has to. She gets very frustrated with my way of doing things.

I think, rather than looking for a 'universal way' sort of solution, it's important to figure out what works best for each individual. This will likely require some trial and error.
Jan 4, 2021
Unless they're just looking for the secret to a trick where they'd otherwise have to pay, I think people should ask away!
If you ask a question, you should at least return and say thanks if anyone tried to help.
If you're just learning that's not always the best time to try to teach, but you can always get involved.

Having a little experience behind me, I feel like I owe a little help to the new magicians.
I started with no Internet, magicians, or magic shops... and it was a slog to learn magic at all.
Now that their is an absolute glut of magic, I feel like it could be just as hard to be a "good" magician.
Experienced magicians are still useful guides.

So my middle is: ask away, try to be legible, say thanks; answer away, try to be legible, be kind.
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Jun 18, 2019
West Bengal, India
Then there are people that ask for a tremendous amount of help and yet put in little to no effort on there part, yielding the same results.

Honestly, I think even the process of asking for help and taking in all the answers, then figuring out which answer works for you (because especially in cardistry and sleight of hand, what works for you may not work for me) is putting a lot of effort into things.

What I tend to do is first read what the sleight does/effect looks like, watch it in action somewhere if I can, then gloss over the instructions to get a basic idea of what to do, then look at the illustrations, then read and re-read the instructions. Then I search several variations of ''xyz sleight/move tips'' and visit forums like Theory XI, Reddit, Magic Cafe, video comment sections, ANYWHERE basically that can provide any sort of insight (while simultaneously doing the move with the props in my hand). Usually the common questions are pre-asked and answered. So I have to do very less asking myself. That being said, if there's still a problem, I either ask in the forums here, or I ask somebody who I know does the move and will help me. To me, both the parts, me doing all that work and me doing all the asking, is a lot of effort (though I'm sure there are people who ask and then don't look into the responses). Of course this is just for the technical aspects. For psychological or showmanship techniques, I ask frequently because I'm aware that even people who KNOW the principles need subtle reminding and discussions sometimes.

TLDR; My happy middle is to work alone 95% of the time (with the pre-asked and answered questions), and ask only if I must, because I'm aware that asking something to another person requires a significant time investment on their part to answer the question meaningfully, and I usually feel uncomfortable putting people through all that effort. But that's just me maybe...(?)


Nov 1, 2009
New Jersey
The key to learning is asking a question. Teaching is telling people what you think they need to know. Learning is finding out the answer to what you want to know. A good teacher instills curiosity and makes you want to ask question and seek answers. Think about how that applies to you life. Think about the difference between how you feel about school (High School, College, Graduate School) versus how you feel about hobbies. Just our language alone uses words like schoolwork but you never hear hobby work. We are curious about our hobbies. Those who do well in school environments have learned to focus their curiosity on their classes through a love of what they are studying or through discipline (which I would call a love of studying and mastery). So how does this answer @Gabriel Z. 's question? It doesn't. It just demonstrates that the most important part of learning is having the curiosity to ask a question.

That doesn't mean that how the question is answered doesn't matter. It does. We value what we have to work for. The harder we have to work, the more we value it. When we figure something out, we get a sense of pride and accomplishment. When it is handed to us, we accept it and don't value it nearly as much. One of the first and most important things I learned years ago as a young attorney is not to ask for help until you have done the hard work. That is, do the research, think about it and then, if you aren't quite sure, ask an informed question. The same is true with magic. Do as much as you can on your own and then ask for help.

This also brings up the issue of how to help others. You will notice that often times the best answers are those that point someone in the direction of how to find the answers or written in a way that requires some thinking on behalf of the person asking the question... rather than just giving it to them. We value what we have to work for and remember best the lessons we figure out ourselves.
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