What keeps you going when you’re just not feeling it as a creative entrepreneur?
As I’ve said before: Even if we completely love what we do, we won’t love every single minute of every single day of what we do.
For example: I absolutely love being an entrepreneur and directing dance programs. But I strongly dislike returning phone calls (I prefer emails 100%), organizing information into spreadsheets, ordering costumes, booking performance locations, and more. But I made myself do those things when I was directing in-person dance programs because the return on the investment was so great. The kids loved it, and families wanted it. (This is a story for another blog, but I actually really struggled with even beginning to develop a performance program because I wanted to be so process focused. I love teaching technique. Performing was a great experience for me personally, but I never felt compelled to find and facilitate performance opportunities for my dance students until families expressed that they desired this from my program.)
When I worked as a classroom teacher, I loved being with my students, creating community, and finding different ways to open those little minds to understand new concepts. However, I completely hated (strong word, but likely extremely accurate . . . ) parent-teacher conferences (they always gave me extreme anxiety, even when the kids were A+ students), decorating my classroom, updating bulletin boards, and most staff meetings. But I made myself do it because decorating my room with student work made the faces of my kiddos just glow with enthusiasm or because it helped parents know what was going on in our classroom. Again, the return on the investment was worth it.
So, when I’m hitting a slump (as I am right now), and when I don’t want to do anything business related, I try to focus on the return. I try to remind myself that all of the work I’m doing will result in either an end goal toward which I’m working or that the work of the daily grind will continue to fulfill me, provide helpful information to my audience and clients, or put good into the world in the way that I feel compelled to do.
In short, when the now is foggy (or what it’s just outright terrible, horrible, no good!), try to focus on that potentially fantastic future feeling. You might find that the future isn’t so far away and that you’ll receive your ROI sooner than you think. Fingers crossed! ;)
So the other day, when I was working at one of my part-time gigs, I overheard someone say, “I don’t get paid to think here!” He went to explain how, when he’s at work, he’s thinking about what he’s eating next or how he will be getting to the next level of a videogame, but not about the work he’s doing for the company.
I thought to myself: THAT’S what’s wrong with this situation. I WANT to be paid to think.
When I worked for a large charter school management organization a few years ago, I remember one of the principals was always emphasizing that we, as the teachers, were the experts in the room. She said this as a way–not to make us feel that we were all-knowing or that we should be teaching our students in a top-down way, but instead–to encourage us to feel comfortable and confident in our background knowledge, life experiences, and professional training to do our job properly. When I worked there, even on the really challenging days, I felt like I was getting paid to think.
When I’m running my dance programs, maybe a few parents think they’re paying me to entertain their child for an hour each week, but I think most parents knew they were paying me to:
Develop and facilitate engaging, challenging, and developmentally appropriate programs
Be the best or hire the best talent I could find to help their child discover and explore the art of dance in a safe and nurturing environment
Put money back into the business by the way of performance opportunities (including space rentals and costume purchases), buying and maintaining props (such as scarves, ribbons, balance beams, hula hoops, etc. for my Creative Movement classes and Dance Daze Birthday Parties)
Create appropriate music playlists that would guide the atmosphere of the class and support my instruction
Develop and maintain the best systems for relaying information, collecting payments, ensuring their child’s safety, and more.
When I’m working as an educator, I’m paid to think.
When I’m working in education, all of me matters.
My thoughts, experiences, and professional background are important because I’m taking on the extremely important work of supporting, informing, and influencing the minds and shaping the experiences of the next generation.
And I like it that way. I love being paid to think.
Any job that doesn’t pay me for this beautifully developed, empathetic, thoughtful, passionate, sensitive, curious mind of mine is 1) missing out and 2) will be short-lived.
Dance Daze, Inc. will be offering LIVE online dance classes beginning in April of 2021! Stay tuned as the journey begins….
As we all know, 2020 was an intense and crazy year. It was sometimes devastating, sometimes infuriating, but still–there were moments of joy found last year.
I taught my final in-person dance classes for Dance Daze, Inc. on March 14, 2020, almost exactly one year ago. I remember the date because it was a “Dance Daze Demo Day,” a special day on which we had small, informal in-studio observation for parents and family members. Dance Daze Demo Day acted as a small performance opportunity for all of our studio students, who may or may not have been able to participate in the other performance opportunities I was working to increase over the past 2 years.
Like everyone, I thought we would be back for classes in a few weeks, right after our scheduled break between our Winter Session ending and our Spring Session beginning. Of course, the Coronavirus had other plans, and I was wrong.
Throughout 2020, I offered a number of online dance classes and worked to create tons of dance-related content for kids. Besides a few very casual Instagram Live ballet barre classes for adults that I did on my personal Instagram, I never taught any live classes for Dance Daze, Inc. over the past year. I wasn’t interested in teaching live dance classes for a number of reasons.
First, like everyone, I was pretty burned out on all the mandatory meetings I’d been having on Zoom. I was already meeting remotely for online classes for my Doctor of Education program, for a remote social media and communications job I had last year, and also for monthly board meetings with a non-profit dance organization for which I am the Marketing Associate. I didn’t feel that adding on dance classes would spark joy for me.
Second, I really saw creating a digital library of dance classes for kids as a fun and challenging opportunity. Because of Dance Daze Online and the Dance Daze, Inc. YouTube Channel, I was able to develop my video creating and editing skills (minimal though they may be…) for the past year and explore creativity in this new way. I enjoyed having the responsibility of recording 2 to 3 dance classes per week in a variety of styles and the self-created obligation of getting each of those classes edited and uploaded within about a week for a full year. I wanted to keep focusing on this.
Third, I feel pretty awkward and shy on camera and I didn’t feel that the “magic” I can create easily with in-person dance classes would translate well on screen. I felt that I’d be shy and awkward and my insecurities would show. I knew parents would be watching and judging, not just my dance students, and I didn’t want to feel that awkwardness while teaching. It took me years (years!) to feel comfortable teaching my in-person dance classes with parents watching. Even today, I simply have to pretend they’re not there when a parent (or school administrator, when I’m teaching in a classroom setting) comes to observe or sits through entire classes. I often forget to make eye contact when speaking to parents who are watching class and make a comment to me and I respond. In fact, the idea of “performing” and being “on” is what saves me most of the time when I’m teaching and parents are watching classes. I didn’t know how I’d be able to perform in this way if I was dancing from my kitchen.
Finally, I wanted a break. I work really hard, and I have more obligations and responsibilities than most people are aware. I always want to create a life that I love each day, and I felt that forcing myself to create a program that I didn’t feel 100% certain about might be too much. I’m in a doctoral program, I’ve been working at other jobs, and I was really focused on creating the on-demand library of dance classes. I allowed this to be enough for myself to focus on while the entire world dealt with a pandemic.
And it was enough for me.
However, the creative person that I am, I’m easily inspired.
I’ve been spending tons of time following fellow creators, influencers, and innovators on social media who have started, grown, or catapulted their online dance programs over the past year. While I’ve obviously always known that live dance online dance classes are an option, what really inspired me is the opportunity to create a “work from anywhere” life for myself, while still working within my own business and developing educational dance programs in the way that I see fit and in a way that blends with my business and personal mission and vision.
So, next month, in April of 2021, I’ll be launching live classes for my business and brand, Dance Daze, Inc.
I’ve been spending lots of time considering different video-streaming platforms on which to host the classes. I’ve been looking at various ways to collect online payments. And, of course, the educator that I am, I’ve been considering the best ways to provide engaging classes to people of all ages and to create incredible educational experiences through movement, as I decided would be the mission of Dance Daze, Inc. when I first began this organization over a decade ago.
While I’m clearly an educator who loves teaching dance classes locally at schools and studios, I’m a big, big entrepreneur at heart who loves innovating. Also, I’ve never wanted to be location dependent. So, join me in my attempt to create a new learning opportunity for my students and a new teaching opportunity for me as I delve into the world of teaching dance classes online!