Business and dancing appear to be on opposite sides of the spectrum. Business is considered predominantly professional and strategic, while dance is typically viewed as physical and artsy. But these seemingly conflicting worlds are more in sync than we realize. I’ve discovered surprising parallels between the boardroom and the ballroom. I’ve found that techniques of ballroom dancers can help anyone improve and succeed professionally—even if they have two left feet. In the following excerpt from The Dance of the Business Mind, I share a story that begins in the Soviet Union, ends with passion and purpose, and hopefully will inspire you to follow your own similar path.
Dance, at its core, is passionate. Perhaps the most important challenge for any of us is to live our daily lives with passion. By being true to your passion(s), you support and encourage your own journey, your attempt to make sense out of what you do and how you do it, in a world where most people doubt themselves and fear change.
If you are to live according to the “Dance of the Business Mind,” you must invoke your passion by learning to listen closely to your inner voice. Doors open to those who follow their passion; and the world also moves to help those who live a life of authenticity, value, and integrity.
That’s what happened to my former dance teacher and partner, who was a professional ballroom competitor.
His parents’ dream was for him to be a world-class pianist. Being raised in the Soviet Union, he enrolled in dancing when he was six, to protect his hands from any injury that might come about with major activity and intense sports. Though he was successful in dance competitions in Europe and Russia as a child, when he came to the United States for college, he stopped dancing in order to focus on his piano training. Even though his studies kept him busy, he found that he was missing the action of the dance world.
But as luck would have it, he wound up working part-time playing piano to earn extra money for college—at ballet schools. And a funny feeling rose inside him. “I was jealous every day watching the dancers, because there they were expressing their music with their body and I was just playing piano,” he shared.
His envy became even more intense when he saw someone just going through the motions. For him, dance meant passion.
Between seeing that and a video of a championship ballroom dance, he made a decision: “I have to do this. I cannot NOT dance!”
That realization led him to a fulfilling career as a professional ballroom dancer and teacher who has gone on to inspire thousands in the world of dance.
Your Passion IS Your Purpose
The moral of the story is this: If there’s something you’re really passionate about, you need to express it in your work.If there’s something you’re really passionate about, you need to express it in your work. Click To Tweet
When you must make business decisions or personal choices between what is practical and lucrative, what is efficient or effective or what truly is your heart’s desire, go to a deep place inside yourself and ask, “Who am I?” “What do I really want out of this business or life?” and “Why is this important to me or to my customers or the team of people I work with or who work for me?”
These questions are how you identify what you are passionate about. Purpose gives meaning to the activities you perform and makes it easier to achieve success with them.Purpose gives meaning to the activities you perform Click To Tweet
The “dancing mind” comes to life when it has a sense of purpose. Often that purpose has to do with an inner drive to express your talents, a desire to learn something new, or a need to be of service or inspiration to the outside world, which could be your customers, your employees, or the community at large.The “dancing mind” comes to life when it has a sense of purpose. Click To Tweet
The only way to move forward is to make a decision to join the dance—to proactively transform your business—in whatever way that will take you to the next level.
Your goal is to find something that is so compelling you “cannot NOT do it,” and incorporate that “something” into your everyday work. It doesn’t have to be the whole ball of wax—it can just be a part of what you do. But that part will provide you with the satisfaction and fulfillment necessary to make your mind dance.
You may experience self-doubt from time to time, but your “dancing mind” will strengthen your resolve. You are a great spirit, and great spirits have always encountered and overcome resistance and obstacles along their way.Great spirits have always encountered and overcome resistance and obstacles along their way. Click To Tweet
There’s another important reason to do this: you want to put yourself in a leadership position, so you don’t have to always react to what everyone else in your field is doing. A connection to your passion and purpose will bring you to a place where your work reflects the truth of who you are as a person. This will increase your personal satisfaction and your customers will perceive you as more innovative.
Valeh Nazemoff is the author of The Dance of the Business Mind, Executive Vice President and Co-Owner of Acolyst—a high-level data management and business performance consulting services firm—and leadership coach.