Tag Archives: ballroom dance

Milestones

I’ve been thinking a lot about the lessons I teach my students as a latin dance coach and how that applies to learning about my own career.

This past weekend, there was a big competition and I was pleased to see how my students did. They didn’t make the final, but the level of improvement that I saw was noticeable and was, frankly, brilliant.

I told a few couples the same thing. This isn’t the end. You can see how far you’ve come from the beginning and you can track your progress up until now. This is a milestone on what will hopefully be a long career. You’ll be able to reflect on this later, but you’re still working toward something coming down the road.

The same applies to you in your professional career. Regardless of where you are now, job seeking or not, happy in what you do or just seeing your job as nothing more than something that pays the bills, entry level or senior management, this isn’t it. We get really wrapped up in knowing where we are right now (and for those of you who are unemployed, I appreciate why that’s more true for you), but we tend to forget that it’s the collection of milestones – the journey, if you will – that makes a career. It’s how you work to shape the journey that matters.

As we get close to the end of the year, and as we approach performance review season for those of you that have that kind of system in place, reflect on that and consider your milestones and what kind of milestones you expect and hope for in the future. It’s a pretty personal topic, so I won’t force anyone, but if you’re inclined to share, I’d love to hear what’s on your mind.

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YOU be the judge.

In my previous post about finding a job through significant persistence, I wrote about my experience as a ballroom dance judge. There are so many people out on the floor that sometimes some of them can get lost. Sometimes, this happens to applicants as well, but it’s not a reason to despair.

In response, the awesome Matt Hawk asked this in the comments:

Mike, as a ballroom dance judge you mentioned you were unable to notice all the dancers. I’m sure it wasn’t a day-glo orange safety vest, but how did you use that knowledge to become more noticable when you did go back to the dance floor? Crisper steps, higher kicks, brighter outfits?

What tactical advice would you give a job seeker? Paper weight/color? Font? Language style? I’d be curious to hear.

Equipped with the knowledge of what a judge is doing and looking for, I made almost no alterations to my practice habits. Sure, I continued working with my partner, improving my technique and enhancing my presentation like I had already been doing, but beyond that, I didn’t make any changes. What’s the alternative? Positioning myself directly in front of judgse so they have to see me? Well, that actually guarantees I won’t be picked. Get a flashier outfit that calls attention to me right away? I’ll admit that my costume is flashy enough as it is (yes, there are rhinestones) that too much more would be tasteless and would turn judges off. The moral here is that gimmicks don’t work.

What did differ was my mental state. Knowing that my dancing would shine though if it was good enough and that the only thing I could do was to dance my best, I stopped feeling like I had to force the issue to be seen and simply danced my heart out while having a good time – I stopped caring about the judges and focused more on what I was doing. In others, I instilled a level of confidence in myself that I didn’t have before.

And that is exactly what I would suggest to job seekers out there. Make your work your best. Show off who you are in the best way possible. Be proud of the work that you’re putting out there. But be sure you put down who you actually are and not who you think someone else wants you to be. No, you won’t get picked every time – I certainly didn’t get called back for every round – but when you do, it will be for the right reasons, because that employer is interested in meeting the candidate represented by the piece of paper.

I recognize that it seems like I’m telling you to do nothing. No, don’t change the font size or the weight of the paper (though there shouldn’t be a paper weight since you should be using e-mail nowadays anyway…). Again, gimmicks don’t work (and you don’t want to work for an employer who responds to gimmicks anyway because that means that the employer only responds to neediness and cries for attention).

What I am suggesting is that you change your state of mind – express your passion for the things that you want. Don’t hesitate to let loose and be honest about who you are (within reason, of course) and what you’re looking for. Employers will respond to it eventually, you just have to give it some time.

Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?