Dancing for Grit, Part Two
The only people who think dancing is easy are the ones not challenging themselves to grow in it. But what if you could “grow” your ability to withstand challenge without quitting, so EVERY endeavor becomes more approachable? It’s not a pipe dream; it’s grit!
We covered two of the crucial qualities you need to develop your grittiness last week. Now let’s bring it home with two more: Practice and purpose.
Have you ever watched a high-level dancer perform? How your brain reacts can tell you some things about yourself. Some people say: “Wow, I could never do that!” while others say, “Wow! What do I have to learn to look that good?” In other words, some are inspired by greatness, while others are discouraged.
Finding inspiration to improve is a crucial part of growing as a dancer, as it will carry you on the long, LONG journey to come. According to many experts, it takes ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery. Or as renowned dancer Martha Graham once put it: “It takes ten years to become a mature dancer.”
Another key to maintaining your “mental stamina” is training your brain to take pride in your accomplishments, rather than simply focusing on where you fall short. I knew so many students who grew frustrated and quit because they couldn’t see the gradual improvements – many of which were on the edge of a breakthrough.
And as a quick aside, I should also mention that the kind of practice most expert’s use is not the same kind most people think of. To ensure the hours you put in result in real improvement, you must apply deliberate practice (click here for my article on this).
While interest drives one to improve for personal reasons, purpose (as psychology professor Angela Duckworth defines it) motivates them for the sake of others. For example, I teach to help others feel safe sharing parts of themselves they couldn’t in most situations, allowing them to forge authentic connections.
Most of us might struggle to see how our dance hobby could benefit others, and that’s not unusual – purpose is usually developed over time. Maybe you make friends, become part of a community, and motivate each other to improve together. Or maybe you start dancing to entertain others, or to raise money for charity.
Regardless of how you find purpose through dance, it scratches an itch most of us have but few satisfy. Ask yourself: If you kept dancing, how might you want to give back through it? Don’t worry about scope; just think of what excites you – like inspiring your children to follow in your footsteps, for example.
Finding role models can also help you develop your altruistic vision. For example, Amber Shriver runs the Connect the Dots dance company, which puts on free dance performances for hospital residents. Or on a bigger scale, the One Billion Rising organization uses dance as a political tool to raise awareness of violence against women.
It is this sense of accountability to others that drive many of us to reach unexpected heights. Combined with interest, practice and hope, you have all the tools needed to become an incredible gritty dancer.
“Grit” by Angela Duckworth
About the Author
Ian Crewe has been dancing ballroom for over 18 years, and has a Licentiate in American smooth and rhythm. His passion for dance eventually led him to blogging and the World Wide Web. Ian currently teaches at the Joy of Dance Centre, Toronto, ON, Canada.