Career lessons from the dance floor

by Aug 7, 2020

Dance played a significant role in my youth. Whether it was mucking around with my friends, jazz dance classes in the school hall or watching anything dance focused on TV, it was a part of my every day.  As well as bringing endless joy, I see now that dance introduced me to a world of challenge, creativity and working in sync with a group of people with unique strengths and styles. I learnt some valuable lessons and ways of working that I believe can be applied to life and career.

Lesson 1 – Practise makes perfect

No one masters a challenging dance move the first time they try it. It takes multiple tries, focused repetition, feedback, correction and probably some stumbles along the way. If we care about getting something right, we need to spend the time it takes to practise and build on our technique. The same goes with building our careers. Being a novice in a new job, or taking on a new task requires focused practise. Whilst most workplaces won’t expect you to reach ‘perfect’, people will pay attention to your effort to improve.

Lesson 2 – Count each other in

In dance class, ‘counting in’ means that you all start your routine on the same beat of the music, often with someone speaking aloud “5,6,7,8…!” It requires everyone to listen to the count and hear the music as a way of keeping in time with each other. It’s the basis of dancing well as a group.

In our careers it’s important to listen to our team, to gain a shared understanding of where to start from, and to work in harmony with others. Counting each other in is about supporting each other, and having a common goal.

Lesson 3 – Brave the spotlight occasionally

Taking on a solo on the dance floor requires you to brave those nerves to challenge yourself, step forward into the spotlight and showcase your special moves. Allowing yourself to stand out can help others to see your skills, appreciate your unique value and it can even help to motivate them to try something new or rise to the challenge themselves.

Dance floors and careers both shine best when there is gutsy individual contribution, as well as collaboration.

Lesson 4 – Try your hand at choreography

In dance, thinking about how the group, the music and the steps will work together to create something wonderful is the role of the choreographer. There’s nothing like the beauty and energy of dancers moving well together. But it’s not easy to create this. It requires you to consider individual strengths of your fellow dancers, to try different formations and paces, and build impact as a team.

In your career, putting forward a new idea, crafting a plan for the group and leading your crew are valuable skills to develop, no matter what level of role you’re in. Try your hand at it in small ways, and reap the benefits of leading a creative venture with your colleagues.

Lesson 5 – Pay attention to flow

Flow describes the feeling of complete engagement in an activity. It can be a feeling of serenity, inner clarity or even ecstasy. Time seems to stand still because you are so involved in the moment.  Rather than requiring mastery or perfection, flow occurs when you have the right balance of challenge and skill. So even as an early learner, if the level of challenge is compatible with your skill level, you can experience flow. As a complete amateur on the dance floor, I was able to experience flow, which is great because now I can recognise it.

Recognising flow and paying attention to what engages and energises us is so important in our careers. It can give us clues about the types of tasks and work we’re suited to and could come to love. By being in tune with what we enjoy learning, we can steer our life and career in a direction that will incorporate our strengths and interests and bring us greater fulfilment.

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

By Sam Berry

By Sam Berry

Career Development Manager

Sam Berry is the Career Development Manager at UTS Careers, and has a background in career consulting, recruitment and education. She is passionate about empowering people of all ages to find fulfilling careers through developing self-awareness and employability skills.