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What the Stock Market Taught me About Dancing

Recently, my wife and I attended a 3-day seminar on trading in the stock market. It was Kaitlin’s idea: For me, it was simply a chance to learn something new. I certainly didn’t expect to be blown away by how much the training clarified my understanding of the dancing process.

“People say that ‘time is money’” stated the head speaker, a brilliant man named Sam Moussa, “but it’s not. Time is EVERYTHING. Why? Because unlike money, it’s non-replaceable. No matter what you choose to learn, it’s going to cost you either time or money to get there. But in the long run, it’s always cheaper to spend the money.”

How many dancer students have said, “I wish I’d started this sooner” I ask myself? We talk ourselves out of doing the things we love because they’re expensive, then feel frustrated when our whole lives get wrapped up in work. What if we put more stock in the good memories we create, rather than the dollars we save?

“There is no substitute for having a mentor,” Sam continues, “someone who has a tested system that you can absorb and make your own. There’s just too many mistakes you can make trying to go it alone, and too few ways to do it right. Stop wasting valuable time.”

Again, it clicks: I think of students I know who are stuck at a certain level because they prefer the affordability of group classes over private instruction. I think of the time I’ve wasted, trying to run a business alone when others could have gotten me there in a quarter of the time. 

Later, Sam starts talking about probability in the market. “If you make trades with a higher probability of success, that doesn’t mean you won’t lose sometimes,” he explains, “the wise investor calls these losses ‘expense trades’. They’re just part of the system that will eventually turn a profit.”

In other words, the shots are part of the program. The “system” of learning to dance will include many days where nothing seems to be working, when it feels like you should just give up and go watch tv instead. The tragedy is that so many give into those days, stepping out of the process before it has time to reward them.

“You can’t make a profit by just putting money in the market and leaving it there.” Sam strides up and down the centre aisle, speaking loudly, confidently: “You have to take action. You have to be strategic about how and when you invest. If you keep doing what everyone else does, you aren’t going to be any more successful than anyone else.”

Makes sense – especially when I think of all the people who expect to learn to dance in a reasonable timeframe, yet can’t find the time to practice for even a few minutes in between classes. These students are waiting for outside factors – like their instructor – to do the work for them, but ultimately, they’re the ones who need to take action.

Towards the end of the seminar, Sam again addresses the importance of learning things the right way, the first time. “Practice does not make perfect,” he reminds us, “practice makes habit. So make sure you are picking up the habits you actually want.”

This one, I have experienced firsthand: The first dance I ever learned was salsa, and I practiced it constantly. But all that practice, WITHOUT the help of ongoing private lessons, ended up becoming a curse. I had been perfecting bad habits, which later took years to correct. 

Whether trading stocks, or trading up your dance technique, the process of learning is the same: Start now. Find a teacher who matches your learning style. Recognize that no one improves without making a lot of mistakes. Keep practicing – OUTSIDE of your lesson time. Learn it the right way, the first time.

In the end, my wife and I bought an extended training package, not simply because it made financial sense to us, but because we believed the message Sam left with us: The fastest way to learn something new, is from someone who’s already there.

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.

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