Are You Ready to Dance?

When I was in kindergarten, my mother registered me for a ballet class at a nearby studio.  Like many little girls, I loved getting dolled up in pink frilly stuff and going to the lessons. I twirled, leapt and tried to plie with great enthusiasm. The lessons built to the crescendo of a recital – one grand performance where our eager troupe would show off our moves.

One class, the ballet teacher announced the performance line up for the recital.  All the names for routines were called, except for mine and another budding Alessandra Ferri.  The teacher told us that we would be her “special helpers” or some other inglorious role. She might have said it in a simpler way to a five year old, but I understood clearly that I wasn’t good enough to dance in the grand finale.

After receipt of my behind the curtain role, I went home, sat in my closet and cried. I put my pink frilly stuff away.  I never danced again. (OK, if there is a rogue photo of me out there somewhere whooping it up at a wedding or other event, I’ll admit to dancing on rare occasions. Or, maybe you’d say it proves Mrs. Smith’s judgment. Either way, my dancing days pretty much ended in kindergarten.)

What Holds You Back?

I thought of this experience when I watched David Kelley’s Ted Talk on creativity. For those of you who don’t know, Kelley founded IDEO, the brilliant innovation firm. His opening point is that many of us don’t think we’re something (i.e. creative, smart, talented) because someone told us we weren’t and we believed it. We carry our “not” card and show it whenever the opportunity to challenge it presents itself. Watch Kelley explain how many of us are far more creative (smart, talented, etc.) than we believe and can show it by confronting our fears.


My hope is that you test old assumptions about what you are “not” and find out for yourself. The upside is that you find gifts that you didn’t know you had. The downside? You confirm that you are not good at something you didn’t think you were good at anyway. My hunch is that you’ll be better than you think.

As for me, I’m going to let the little girl dance.

9 thoughts on “Are You Ready to Dance?

  1. It’s definitely worth it to re-check some old beliefs that may have never been accurate to begin with…One person’s perception does not necessarily mean it’s accurate…and I bet you can rock a plie..:-)

  2. As a teacher, I can tell you from personal experience that we often misjudge a student’s talent. And unfortunately students take this assessment for truth, rather than one of many assessments they will experience in life. (Although I’m not sure that I would ever judge a five year old about anything… it’s just too early).

    However, telling children that they are good at everything is not the solution to the problem. My brother tells the story about his high school gym teacher. Andrew was not very good at running (at all). But his teacher didn’t stop him from participating in track meets. She encouraged him to compete, but against himself. In other words, she focused on how he could get better. I believe that this approach is the reason that a) he is still running today and, b) that he is a confident professional. He knows if he works at it he can get better.

    How’s that for a long comment!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s