The illusionist Derren Brown has long been known for his magic tricks, mental manipulation, and overall mastery of a variety of cognitive arts. The author of a number of books, Brown has wowed audiences with his ability to hypnotize, amaze, and persuade.
Some have called his particular set of skills strange and unusual but he has made a name for himself with abilities and performances that defy classification. With a peculiar mix of stage theatrics, magical invocations, science, and social psychology, Derren Brown has made a name for himself as an enchanter, a self-help guru, and nearly everything else in between.
Who is Derren Brown?
Derren Brown’s own story began with a lack of confidence as a timid 19-year-old studying law at Bristol University. This is when his career in magic began, practicing magic tricks and sleight of hand to impress his peers. Derren Brown is probably most famous for correctly guessing the results of the National Lottery in England, the odds of which were 14 million to one.
The English illusionist used his skills long before he became famous; so much so that he was banned from every British casino due to never losing a hand of blackjack. Despite betting small and donning subtle disguises, pit bosses and security guards in casinos around the UK began to recognize him and ban him from the establishments.
Now touted as a mentalist, illusionist, painter, author, and amateur photographer, Derren Brown has produced award-winning shows for both the stage and television, as well as publishing many books on magic and the power or the mind. Never claiming to have supernatural powers of any kind, Brown describes his work as a combination of “magic, suggestion, psychology, misdirection, and showmanship”.
Derren Brown’s tips for success
Derren Brown’s success on stage and in life is no illusion. The acclaimed performer has harnessed 4 of the most effective methods for keeping his show interesting and how his fans can incorporate them to live their best, and most fulfilled, lives.
The importance of collaboration
Working together as a team in order to achieve a goal is not groundbreaking in and of itself but Derren Brown credits his colleagues and their collaboration with his success and the success of his shows.
The key here is fostering good relationships: these are the foundation for exceptional achievement and the bedrock of accomplishment. Strong relationships allow for a give-and-take in work partnerships and useful critical feedback. It’s vital, however, to keep your ego in-check when collaborating in any environment.
Aim for what you can control
Life is unpredictable and it’s scary to think about all of the moving parts that you may not be able to influence. Focusing on the aspects you can control is a key component to Brown’s tenets of success, based on his study of Stoicism, a school of Hellenistic Greek philosophy.
Just as he cannot control the reaction of his audience members at one of his shows, in order to put together a performance, he concentrates on making the experience as enjoyable as possible for them, and then plans out the tricks later on. Amazingly, sometimes he does not even have his entire show fully conceptualized until just before his performance begins.
Don’t limit yourself
This may be the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to Derren Brown’s keys to success. The mystery of his success and the mere fact that his life’s work defies description is all thanks to his staunch opposition to allowing himself to be limited in any way.
According to Brown, his work revolves around “stories that we tell ourselves, the narratives that we live by.” This concept goes hand-in-hand with the psychological techniques that he uses to help people achieve their desired mental outcomes — manipulating your own data input in life can profoundly affect how we interpret the world.
Counterintuitively, Derren Brown contends that allowing yourself to feel vulnerable and embracing that feeling in public actually draws people closer to us, rather than pushing them away. While vulnerability may seem alienating, in fact, it does the opposite.
The empathy the audience feels for a clearly-vulnerable volunteer that comes on stage during a performance actually ingratiates them to the volunteer, creating a sense of community between strangers due to circumstances and behavior.
Mind control: the power of persuasion
Humans, on the whole, can be easily influenced, persuaded, and sometimes even brainwashed. Derren Brown’s magic performances are evidence of this tendency in human nature that he has clearly exploited to the fullest.
Although the words “persuasion” and “manipulation” typically have negative connotations, Derren Brown has actually seemed to use these powers for good. His well known use of psychological manipulation and hypnotic suggestion to get people to take a certain course of action have proved to make for great TV, but subsequently, have also been used to encourage his audience to take charge of their mental states, pushing themselves towards empowered success.