Derren Brown: A Brief Glimpse Into an Incredible Mind

Published September 29, 2009 in Uncategorized - 8 Comments

Derren Brown

Below, you’ll find a video featuring a short interview with Derren Brown. It’s worth seeing for several reasons, one of them being that anything with Derren Brown in it is worth seeing. Yes, I’m a fan. Another reason I will get into after you’ve given the interview a look.
In case you don’t know who Derren Brown is: He’s an illusionist and mentalist, which means that he does magic tricks that make it seem like he can read minds or that he has other psychic abilities. Brown is to mentalism what David Copperfield is to illusionism, which is to say: He’s taken the art to it’s extremes. He also has a personality and wit that would make him entertaining even if he wasn’t also blowing your mind with his tricks.

Anyway, here’s the video I want you to see:

(If you can’t be bothered to watch the whole thing, jump in at 2:14 and watch until around 5:18.)

Okay, nothing special, you might think. Derren has certainly done more amazing things than that. There is one particular part that got my attention, though. During the demonstration that takes place between 2:14 and 5:18 in the video, Derren gets his prediction completely wrong on his first try. Well, maybe not completely wrong, but “Cigar” is a pretty far cry from “Constable”. Note, however, how Derren smoothly continues and saves the situation quite gracefully. Now, how the hell he could get the subject, who insisted he was thinking of an object all along, to somehow agree that he had actually thought about Milan at some point and what went on during this “save” could probably justify a blog-post all of it’s own, but I want to focus on something different. What really impresses me here is how Derren Brown’s mindset or attitude shows. He seems completely unphased by what is actually a clear and public failure.

What would you feel like, if you were demonstrating your one best skill on a TV show and it went completely wrong? I’m pretty sure I’d become nervous as hell, start fidgeting and my desperation to try to amend the situation would be very apparent. I would then realize that my nervousness and insecurity were showing and that would make it even worse.
I’m not saying I would faint, but it could be a close call.

Of all the amazing abilities in Derren Brown’s repertoire, his ability to cope with a setback is the one I would most like to emulate. (Closely followed by this, perhaps).

Sure we’ve all heard that failure is an essential part of success, that you can’t possibly succeed without failing fairly often along the way and that we learn from mistakes. But it still feels bad to fail, doesn’t it?
You know how a certain ad-campaign claims that ‘impossible is nothing’? Judging by the video above, it seems that Derren has completely assimilated the concept that failure is nothing. If anyone knows how to get there, please let me know.

  • Ben

    Hey, I like the new site. You’ve got some good content going up.

    I have by no means defeated my fear of failing (especially publicly), but I’ve come a long way. Perhaps I’ll write about the details sometime. Suffice it to say, like many other fears, it basically comes down to exposure.

    As a child I was quite sensitive to failing. By failing often and sometimes intentionally, I developed the ability to more effectively overcome what fears remain, in the moment.

    So I guess my advice would be to get out there and get used to making a fool of yourself. Feel free to post videos on youtube for our entertainment. 😉

  • Hi Ben,

    Thanks for your comment!
    I agree that exposure, or practice in a sense, is probably one of the most sure-fire ways of learning to cope with failure. In the case of a stage magician, by the time you see them on a big stage, they usually have years and years of practice in front of friends and family, at small events, in bars etc. behind them. Many chances to screw up in relative obscurity and get some practice in.

    Oh, and I’ll be making a fool of myself on youtube soon enough. 😉

  • What Derren did was not easy. It only shows the strength of his character. I try my best to develop such character, I know I’m far but I will achieve it. 🙂

    • Hi Walter, thanks for your comment!
      Yes, I too hope to get to Derren’s level of confidence/experience. He’s a bit of an idol to me, anyway since it’s not just his performance but his whole personality and style that is really outstanding.

  • Heya Shane!
    Cool blog you have here man!

    I am a fan of street magic, the real stuff, like David Blaine style. It is so mindboggling watching someone do something that seems impossible, yet you cannot spot the trick or how he does it, sometimes its just plain scary 🙂

    Have an awesome day!

    • Hi Diggy!
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m a fan of the street magic stuff, too. I even have a bunch of different card-decks here and I practice a bit of sleight of hand with them from time to time. I’m pretty crappy at it, though. Even with basic knowledge about magic tricks, the stuff Blaine, Brown and others like them do is just mind-boggling. 🙂

      Have a good day too, mate!

  • Hello, great post here! The video was informative and gives great advice. I have to agree that confidence does come from a sense of well-being and truly liking who you are. It’s easy to stray away from that, especially in the world we live in today. I feel it’s important to surround yourself with positive people who believe in you as well. Thanks for the post…great job!

    • Hi Aaron, thanks for your comment! I’m glad you liked this post. Surrounding oneself with supportive people is definitely very important for building this kind of confidence. With trusted friends, you can make mistakes without fear of their reactions.