This week, I spoke at the Schulich Executive Education Centre about 21st-Century Hiring—essentially, why the practices that worked so effectively for hiring staff through the last century don’t work all that well now. (Did you know that nearly half of all new hires fail within the first 18 months? If you’re at a managerial level or above, that number is as much as 60 %!) The occasion was a breakfast seminar to promote the SEEC Master’s Certificate in Organization Development and Change. The MCOD is a remarkable opportunity to learn the nuts and bolts of OD practice. And yet, almost none of the attendees were there with an intention to pursue the certificate program (they all were more interested in what I had to say about hiring). By the end of my talk, I was able to very clearly demonstrate that contemporary hiring has little to do with traditional Human Resources approaches, and far more to do with OD thinking and ways of approaching the holistic needs of the organization. More than a few were persuaded that an OD qualification might be very useful in their current line of work, irrespective of what specifically that work entailed.
So, too, is it with dance lessons. Many people will try out a dance lesson (at Salsaholics, it’s $5 for your first-time first class) on a lark, or as a date outing, or just because they always wanted to try dance or because they received some sort of discount deal or a gift of lessons. They might simply have come because they were bored and looking for something new to try—once. They really had no intention to become serious dancers; they simply came in for a different reason.
In my experience at Salsaholics, one of two things happens in this situation. The person may take their first lesson, decide that dancing isn’t for them, and never return. They may have had an expectation that they would be Dancing with the Stars after 45 minutes of basic step, basic spot turn, and crossbody lead. After all, that’s what happens on television, isn’t it? Of course, from one’s first time dancing, it takes a bit longer than 45 minutes to become comfortable. But really, because there was no real impetus for dancing in the first place, not much is lost (and not much is gained, either).
The other thing that could happen is much more interesting. Yes, it’s true that the person came in with a primary intention other than learning to dance, surprising as that might seem. And, something happens in that first class. It might be that they catch on quicker than they expected. It might be that they discover enjoyment in the experience of connecting with other people in this whole new way. It might be that they simply had fun in a way that was different than they had previously experienced. They didn’t intend to learn to dance, but returning every week led them to do just that. And as their proficiency grows, so too does their confidence, and their enjoyment, and the friendships they make, and the fun they have. Some people maintain that dance changed their lives. Did I say, “some?” I actually meant, “many!” Many people in the Toronto dance community, across all genres, can relate a story of how dance fundamentally changed their lives (myself included).
Originally, I honestly didn’t have the intention to become a pretty competent dancer, certainly didn’t have an idea that I would become an instructor and co-organizer of Sidewalk Salsa, and most definitely could not anticipate that the entire course of my life has changed because of the chain of events that transpired since my very first lesson at Salsaholics Anonymous.
If you’re one of those who visited Salsaholics in the past “just to try it out” for a couple of lessons, why not get a head start on a New Year’s resolution and make 2019 a year of dance for yourself. Who knows? It may change your life for the better, when we…
See you on the dance floor.