It’s easy to maintain your self-assurance when things are going well. An avalanche of good fortune makes us feel as though we’re unstoppable. The challenge is in how we keep our cool when faced with adversity. At times like this I refer to the Boy Wonder, Dick Grayson.
Dick Grayson is most known as Robin. He’s gone though many adaptations over the years (Nightwing, Spyral Agent, Red Robin, and occasionally filling in as Batman), but he consistently fights to protect Gotham from crime alongside Batman. If you are familiar with his backstory, you know that before he was a superhero, Dick was the youngest in a family of circus acrobats known as the “Flying Graysons.”
Being part of the Flying Graysons taught Dick valuable life lessons about survival and overcoming self-doubt. In the graphic novel The Black Mirror, he discussed his family’s three rules in more detail.
Rule #1 Pick a Point
My family had three rules for staying alive on the trapeze. The first was ‘pick a point’. Meaning pick the point in space you’re headed for and don’t ever look away, even for a second.
When experiencing fear, a natural reaction is to go into a mode of self-preservation. We then lose focus on what we’re trying to achieve, lose perspective on the priorities that really matter, and lose communication skills that could be a valuable asset. If we can pick a point before panic sets in, we will be more prepared to concentrate on that point when adversity rears it’s head.
Rule #2 Build a Net
My family had two more rules in case the first one didn’t work, in case you felt yourself giving into the fear, sliding, losing your grip and starting to fall. Rule #2 was ‘build yourself a net.’ Build a safety net out of plain simple facts to stop the panic, to steady you. Fact: my name is Dick Grayson.
I was at a conference last year where I witnessed the keynote staring into a mirror repeating the statements, “You can do this. You are THE speaker.” Looking back, he was building his net. These simple facts centered him and helped him mentally prepare for the pressures of an auditorium of spectators. We may not need to be as vocal, but our mantras should be just as clear-cut and repeatable.
Rule #3 Hope for the Best
But if Rule #2 wasn’t working, if you still couldn’t shake the fear…and your grip, it wasn’t holding, my family had a third rule for staying alive which was ‘pray you land somewhere soft.’
With all the skill and talent possible, there are times when things do not go our way. These instances are unavoidable and often take us by surprise. When this happens, our soft landing can be softened by a strong support system, gaining some lesson learned, and/or a reminder that failing does not make us a failure. This last one is the most difficult, but it’s also the most important to help us cope with disappointment and rebound.
While the majority of us will not be flying through the air on a trapeze, our responsibilities and tasks feel just as death-defying. Maintain your focus. Remember who you are. Hope for the best. After all, true success is not a matter of whether you hit the ground after a flop; it’s how hard you land and your resilience to bounce back.