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Two “left feet” and The Dip
It was not going to happen this time. I would not be frustrated and embarrassed. I would not gaze into those wishful eyes and see the forced smiles exhibited by my wife. This time, I was going to be good – I would learn to dance!
Raised as a Southern Baptist, dancing was strictly off-limits. I never went to school dances or parties where that “devil’s play” was included. I didn’t even go to my Senior Prom, instead, an alternative party had been planned with G rated movies and punch. That was all OK, until I left my small home-town and found out that Christians could dance and it wasn’t biblically forbidden!
The outcome of my history is that it leaves me in a quandary of doubt and scuffed shoes during receptions at weddings and other opportunities where dancing takes place (I even struggle with YMCA and The Chicken Dance!). Over time, I would learn a little on my own, learn a little again, but never improve. I was in a “Cul-de-Sac.”
My wife didn’t dance a lot either but is naturally more inclined towards it than me (she must have been more of a sinner growing up!). So, we try to dance. I don’t do so well, and the result is a feeling of despair, doubt and distress.
My niece’s wedding was coming up. It’s in the Deep South – so a large affair with a live band and dancing. I told LeAnn, “It’s time to do something about this,” and signed up for lessons at Arthur Murray.
The first lesson was euphoric! I seemed to advance quickly, with rhythm and the right moves, but then it got hard. I entered in The Dip as Seth Godin would say in the book by the same name.
My teachers, who we call Mr. and Mrs., encouraged us through this difficult time. Concentrate on just two steps (in other words, quite the wrong stuff and stick with the right stuff). Come back to lessons, keep trying even when no progress seems evident.
And it happened, with perseverance and “leaning into it,” I improved! My wife and I were some of the most comfortable couples on the dance floor at the wedding reception. We had visualized the finish line, endured the short-term pain for the long-term benefits, had concentrated on the few steps we knew, quitting the other distractions and came out on top.
We learned Seth Godin’s secret, that “success goes to those who obsess.”