A story about courage and communication
Presently in my jazz classes we are choreographying new group jazz dances for upcoming competitions. After one of my classes this last Monday a student came up to me and said she felt like everyone else had a solo part except her. Even though it wasn't true I couldn't discount the way she was feeling.
First off, I am so proud of her to have been vulnerable and courageous enough to come talk to me about how she was feeling, I'm not sure I would have at her age. This was not an easy conversation to start but it showed me she cares.
Second, this gave me such a great teaching opportunity. When she asked how she could get a solo part I said she could earn it by giving her all in the warm up we do every class. She is one who puts herself in the corner in hopes that I don't notice her (but I do ;-))She goes through the motions but I don't see her pushing herself a little farther each week. And shy or not, if you want something you need to go and get it. So get in the front and be proud of the hard work you're putting out there!
See, for me (and I think most dance teachers) warm up is the foundation of everything else that comes later in class. If you don't show me a strong, focused foundation how are we supposed to build on that? Yes, you want to do jetes across the stage but if you're not strong enough to execute them properly then I'm not going to showcase them in a dance.
This dancer coming up to me and starting this conversation impacted me in such a positive way. I absolutely loved it. It opened the door for more communication between us and honestly with the effort she was showing me in class I didn't think she really cared. I thought she was there more for the social fun of it. It reminded me of the very first myDANCEblog I ever wrote... "What are you showing the world?" It's so important that our thoughts, actions and words reflect our goals and dreams. If not, we are sending mixed messages to ourselves and others. It's MUCH harder and near impossible to achieve goals that way.
So now what? Well, now it's up to her to be accountable to put my advice into action. I will remind the class as a whole as we begin warm up to do their best but it's up to her to apply it. I will keep communication open as to whether or not I see improvement. Because here's the deal, we all need reminders and we all need time to apply new ideas and create new habits. Help me cheer her on.
Are you not getting what you want somewhere in your life? Start a conversation with the person who can make the difference. They may have an important piece to the puzzle. So often we assume or complain behind closed doors and that gets us nowhere other than building animosity or frustration. Ask "how" and then ask "why" if you don't know. Always be curious. Good leaders will appreciate that.