I sometimes work with clients who are meticulous about their standards for performance in their business. Such an attitude is often described as “perfectionist” and that often leads to problems. Nothing is ever good enough. Everything that anyone does in the business has to be critiqued (read: criticized). Further, it is my job as the leader, manager, or whatever role to do that criticism—“it’s a tough job, etc., etc., etc.” One way that I help such managers through the dysfunctions that usually accompany perfectionism is by asking them what success looks like. If they can articulate a successful outcome, or better yet, the attributes or characteristics of a successful outcome, it becomes far easier to measure against those success attributes and find what’s right, rather than (often unfairly) judging an arbitrary outcome and finding what’s wrong. The mantra with which I try to associate this mindset crystalizes into a simple question: Is this “sufficient for success?” Whatever it is that we’re judging may not be perfect, but it might indeed be sufficient for success without having to settle for only “good enough.” Language is important!
The same is true for dancers, and especially relatively newer, less-experienced dancers. As we are learning, we often hold ourselves to a high standard—a standard measured against dancers with far more experience, practice, and perhaps even more seemingly inborn talent than we have at our own stage of growth. It’s the insecurity imposed by that impossibly high standard that keeps us off the dance floor at a social, or prevents us from asking that too-good-for-me partner to dance. In this case, we have to ask ourselves, “What does success look and feel like for this next dance?” It might be simply to keep up with a great lead or follow. It might be to execute a new move at least once, more or less like you learned it in class. It might simply be to keep the count all the way through the song. Or, it might be to have your partner finish the dance by saying, “Thanks. That was a lot of fun.”
Whatever your personal measure of success is for the particular dance, you can then ask yourself, how do I conduct myself, what do I do, what do I try, what do I focus on so that it’s “sufficient for success?” Remember, you don’t have to be a perfect dancer, you merely have to be successful according to how you want to define success in this very next dance, as we…
See you on the dance floor.