6 Life Lessons from the Golden Dragon Acrobats
Friday night I had the opportunity to see the Golden Dragon Acrobats with some of the other leaders of my church. It was just amazing the things they could do – the contortions, the balancing, the coordinated choreography. (Check out the 30 second preview video.)
As great as they were, one of the thing that stood out to me was how many times they screwed up. I don’t know if this is typical or they were having an off night, but at least a dozen times someone fell down or dropped something.
However, that made the performance kind of interesting. It added drama and suspense because we really didn’t know if they were going to make it or not.
As I thought about the less-than-perfect performance, I realized there were a lot of life lessons that could be drawn from it.
1) Don’t expect perfection. Nobody’s perfect. Not even extremely talented, very disciplined Chinese acrobats who have been rehearsing thousands of hours. Expect people to give their best. But if you expect perfection from yourself or from those around you, you will be perpetually disappointed and frustrated.
2) You’ve got to take risks. The acrobats could have chosen easier, safer routines that would have increased their chances for a flawless performance, but they didn’t. I think the audience was better off for it. I would rather see the very edge of what is humanly possible even if it means some failures.
3) Big risks make the people around you nervous. The climax of the show was when one of the acrobats balanced himself on top of 6 chairs using just one arm. It’s insane! (Check out 3:45 to 4:20 on the video to the right.) I was nervous just watching the guy. When you take big risks, it will scare the people around you, and many of them will tell you to back off. It’s important to listen to the counsel of wise people around you, but remember that every person who has achieved anything great had people telling them they shouldn’t try it, it’s too risky, they could get hurt.
4) We all need friends who are ready to catch us. For the riskiest stunts, there was always another person (or two or four) watching from below ready to catch the acrobat if he or she happened to fall.
5) When you fall, get up and try again. Every time the acrobats failed to successfully complete a stunt, they got up went back to the beginning of that stunt and did it again. They didn’t run off the stage embarrassed. They didn’t even move on to the next stunt. They went back and did it again. One of them even got a bloody nose in the process, but that didn’t stop him.
6) People love a comeback. When a stunt was missed and then the acrobat went back and re-did it, the audience not only applauded, but they applauded louder than they did for the stunts before and after it that were pulled off without a hitch. I don’t know if it’s because the audience was sympathetic and wanted to encourage the acrobat or if we thought because they failed the first time the stunt must have been a really tough one. Regardless, that’s what happened. And I think that happens in life too. Knowing that should encourage us even more to take big risks and when we fail to get up and try again.