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Monday, March 02, 2009

Learning Lessons From Mocking Aquaman

Quick, think of the most mockable superhero you know.

Got it?

I would bet good money that "Aquaman" came right to mind. I have collected and read comic books for years, and I have seen Aquaman mocked in many ways, and in many forums. My favorite was during a college sketch comedy show that featured a "self-help" group for superheroes, and anytime anyone would complain about their life or powers, Aquaman would yell, "I TALK TO FISH!!" Family Guy, Entourage, Stephen Colbert, etc. all have taken shots at the Fish-Man.

And all the mocking is not without merit. I once read an Aquaman comic where he showed up to thwart a bank robbery with a flatbed truck with a GIANT AQUARIUM FILLED WITH FISH ON IT!

Here's the interesting thing though: Aquaman, for all the mocking he gets, is one of the most commercially successful superheroes around. He has been around since 1941, has hundreds of issues of his own self-titled comic book, is one of the founding members of the Justice League (so has appeared in multiple comics), has been in multiple animated TV shows including "The SuperFriends," "The Superman/Aquaman Hour of Adventure" (his own TV show!), and "The Justice League." He has even appeared as a character ON the CW's (formerly the WB's) Smallville.

You can even buy Aquaman T-shirts. I've never seen anyone wearing one, but I know you can buy 'em...

For a guy who gets incessantly mocked, he's doing pretty well for himself. I think there are a few lessons we can all take from "The Master of the Oceans":

1) Be Willing to Be Mocked, If It Gets You The Success You Want

One of the two key mentalities to improvising with anything when Ding Happens is to be willing to fail. That willingness extends to the willingness to be rejected, embarrassed, and yes, even mocked. Could you imagine if the creator or any of the writers of Aquaman just gave up because people were making fun of their work? Remember, this is one of the most successful and recognizable superheroes in the world!

Question: What are you holding yourself back from doing because you are afraid of getting mocked?

2) Look at Mockery as a Sign of Success

It is impossible to please all of the people all of the time. The more successful you are, the more you will be mocked. The only way to avoid criticism, negative feedback, and mockery is to do as little as possible and stay under the radar. That is also the best way to lead a life more ordinary, and one without the success and fulfillment you deserve.

People will always find a reason to complain or mock. Take mockery as an indicator that you are getting out there, that people know who you are, and you are at least big enough to be mocked in the first place. To quote Stephen Pressfield from "The War of Art": "The professional keeps his eye on the doughnut and not on the hole. He reminds himself it's better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot."

Question: What can you be doing that people may mock? Are you in the arena, or up in the stands?

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy an Aquaman t-shirt.

P.S. If you think Aquaman is mockable, imagine having to live your life as his sidekick, "Aqualad." How often do you think he got beat up in Superhero Middle School?

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