I was thrilled to read this article on Fast Company: How a Top Female Exec at Google Brings Poise from Ballet to Business.
Not only is this about a top female executive, but it’s about how ballet training can translate to success off the stage.
I trained in ballet from the time I was three. I was pretty serious about it, going to class multiple days per week and spending weekends rehearsing for performances. I even was a company member of a pre-professional ballet studio. I basically went to school, went to dance, and then went to sleep. I loved taking class. I loved performing. And I still love dancing, and now I get to love teaching.
I was never a professional dancer (to be honest, I didn’t even audition anywhere), but my ballet training has helped me in many ways. It’s provided a hobby, a passion, and beyond that, it instilled some unique ballerina qualities in me that help in my professional life, too. In fact, my mentor often talks to me about how things you learn through ballet and performing can help prepare you for challenges and opportunities in the business world.
Here are my top 5 lessons from ballet that help in business:
- You have to put in the hours. Yes, there are some people who are naturally gifted, but even they have to put in hours and hours (and hours) in classes and on their own building strength, maintaining flexibility and studying the art form. It’s the same for business. You have to work hard to get results.
- The wrong execution can cause serious injuries. Even the smallest error in executing a turn, leap or other step can lead to a sprained ankle — or worse. Thankfully, I’ve never endured a serious injury. But it’s the same in business. The injuries may not be physical, but taking the wrong turn or even just making a small short cut can bruise the company. The lesson is if you’re going to execute, make sure you do it the right way.
- Aches and pains are part of the process. You have to get through the pain to experience the positive results. Strategizing, long meetings, multiple edits… your head may hurt, but you just gotta push through.
- You don’t have to be in the lead role to shine. Yes, being one of many members of the corps de ballet can feel like you’re invisible — like you’re just there to make the principal dancer(s) look good. Well, that’s part of it. But, you can shine in whatever role you have by doing the best you can, being a team player, and making everyone around you look good. Making your boss look good is only going to make things better for you.
- At the end of the day, keep your chin up and your feet pointed. Despite spending 2+ hours in pointe shoes — literally on their toes the entire time — dancers on stage continue to smile with poise, grace and confidence. It’s easy to fall into the grumpy category, and get to the point where you just want to get through the day. But you’ll feel better if you keep your chip up (literally and figuratively), and keep your feet pointed — in other words, do things to the best of your ability.