How My Dance Background Helps Me As A Business Owner

I had my first dance lesson at the age of 3. I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember two things about it.

First, I remember there were weird stuffed animals in the window area that creeped me out. Second, I remember that I didn’t like it, and I kept going to my mom to ask for more snacks.

So from there, my mom enrolled me in acting, modeling, piano lessons, and gymnastics. And, while gymnastics was a very close second, by the age of 5, and after trying out my first tap dance class, I knew dance would be my thing. (I’ll forever be grateful to Ms. Vanessa, my first tap dance teacher who told my mother that I was a natural and that I should join her competition class after the first time she saw me dance.)

So, how does my background in competitive tap dance and my pre-professional classical ballet training help me as an entrepreneur? I think there are a few ways.

  1. I’m not afraid to fail when it comes to entrepreneurship. (Now, if we’re talking about with my every-day psychoses, fear of failure is a big thing in my life as a Type-A, over-achiever, and possible perfectionist. But if we’re just talking about entrepreneurship, then I’m good. ;) I know that I will always, always have more ideas. I know that I will always be able to make some kind of money from those ideas ( . . . It’s truly amazing what it does for the brain when you think of something, create something, put it on the Internet with a nice bow, and make a few hundred dollars from it. The first time that happens, you know you can make much, much more. Making money straight from your ideas is a game changer, folks.). I also know that I can always get another job if needed. Yes, I have a couple of university degrees under my belt, and I’m working on another, but, in addition to that, I have some crazy good life experience, drive, and I’m not afraid to get things done when I need to pay the bills. With dance, even when you do actually “fail” — have a bad class, mess up a performance, get an injury — there’s usually an opportunity to do better in the next class, try harder at the next performance, and to increase your strength so that you’re less likely to get injured in the same way in the future. Failure may exist, but only as long as we dwell on that feeling instead of focusing on ways to improve.
  2. I know that pain is temporary. Nobody likes pain. In fact, I’ve carried aloe vera, Band-Aids, and Advil in my purse since I was about 14 years old because I hate pain and I refuse to not be prepared for it. But, since I’m a dancer, I know that most physical pain will heal over a short time. In business, when things are uncomfortable, or when I’m learning systems that I don’t want to learn, I know that it’s part of a temporary pain that will soon go away and that my life will likely be better after I push through to get to the next level. (Disclaimer: I know dancing through injuries is a big problem in the dance world, especially in the world of classical ballet. I’m not endorsing that mindset, but I am saying that that mindset can be helpful in terms of being an entrepreneur. Sometimes we feel like it’s the end of the world. Later, we realize that it wasn’t. We just had to keep going. And that’s my truth.)
  3. I’m aware of a certain *magic* that exists for us artists that I’m not sure others are as keenly aware of. Maybe it’s from spending my childhood performing. Maybe it’s because my mother let me me dance around the living room for hours, re-enacting entire movie scenes (and often, as much of the movie as I could remember, which was typically a good amount). Maybe it’s because I’ve worked at summer camps for children, where “creating magical moments” was literally in my job description. But like, I know that magic is real. I know that it’s possible for us to create the life of our dreams. I know that the only real limits that exist are those that we place upon ourselves. (And this is not to discount systemic problems in the world, by any means. This is to say that, whether to my benefit or detriment, I’m a believer in fairy-tales and dreams that become reality.) They say that those who often succeed are those who don’t know that failure is inevitable. I think that’s true of dancers. We know that the possibility of living in a world of wonder is real. So we keep dreaming. And we keep doing.

What about you? What childhood activities or hobbies help you in your current business or career path? Let me know in a comment!

Foggy Today? Focus on the Future

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! ;)

Forever filled with the audacity of hope,

Saumirah