What it Takes to Perform (Part 2) – Choose Your Comrades wisely

The time is now 9:55 am and I’m getting ready to put together a choreography for my Cycle#3 students.

When you decide you’re going to do something, the first place to look is the people you are choosing to work with.

Over the past few months I’ve seen my students struggle, work hard, make mistakes, and savor progress. They have shown a commitment to themselves, and to reaching a level of mastery in their lives.

Learning to dance is like learning anything else. You go through 4 stages, Psychologists call it the four stages of competence and the experience pretty much sucks until the end.

  1. Unconscious Incompetence
  2. Conscious Incompetence
  3. Conscious Competence
  4. Unconscious Competence

When you first start something, you’re completely in the dark about what needs to be done, and your ability to do it… As time moves forward, you begin to recognize patterns and also to recognize how you’re not aligned with those patterns for doing the task in the most efficient and effective way possible.

After many more hours, days, months…maybe even years of practice you begin to do the right things, and internally know you’re doing the right thing. You can do it on command, and possibly communicate it to another person as “teacher.” However, it’s still a pain in the ass because you still need to think about what you’re doing.

At times it can be a drain, and the slightest surprise can throw you off your game. If you choose you can face these surprises with the curiosity of a new born child. You see them as interesting… nothing more, nothing less. It is not a determination of who you are, or what you will become… but just feedback about what you did. Feedback to be used to adjust your aim and make it true.

Finally, stage four is when you are free from your mind and now have the capacity to act without personal blocks and hesitations. At this stage you can choose to coast on the new plateau or begin the journey again to a higher level of performance. I call this journey of pain, struggle, suffering, peace, joy, then repeat… Mastery.

In another series I will talk more about mastery, but it applies to all areas of your life. Whether you choose to perfect how you make a steak, clean the house in the most efficient manner, learn to dance, or choose to speak in public.

The journey of mastery is simple, and predictable. You can expect to experience excitement, and joy at the hope you will become and experience something different. The first few days are easy because you’re filled with resolve, and anticipation. Your mind has not yet begun to play tricks on you, and the doubts of “what’s possible for you” have not started to creep in…

Once the honeymoon phase is over, you are faced with the fears, doubts, and hesitations that keep many people from pursuing their ambitions. They come in subtle forms, like a passing thought here, and a sly comment there from those around you.

You may find yourself alone, hopeless, and stuck… However, this is where the journey begins because few men have the fortitude to move past the angst, and experience the journey of mastery.

It is during this time that you can begin to recognize your own character. The weaknesses, the strengths, the fears… You will be tested, and from this day forward you know there is work to do.

The path of mastery in anything you do will be a long one, and since it is a path that goes on forever there will be no need to stress about when you will arrive. You’re responsibility is to show up, and work.

To work past the point of comfort, past the point of doubt, past the fatigue that we can expect will come upon you.

If you are creating a dance group of your own, you will want to identify the people who will be able to remain steadfast. You will want to look into yourself and accept the inevitable….

The reality that “You will want to quite, and give up” because it’s easier to be comfortable.

In part 2 of this series, the decision you are faced with… like that of young Marco Polo when he left Venice in search of adventure. His father said “no, you are not ready for the journey that lies ahead and I forbid you joining us on this voyage”….

But, young Polo refused to accept this answer and stowed away on the ship until he was found. During those days, there was no turning back with the winds in your sails and the reluctance to risk losing an opportunity.

Your journey may be similar…
You must choose if you will take the journey, and why….
Then you must become resolved in your decision
And finally you must identify who is taking the journey with you and if you trust them to commit.

When I mention the final step… yes, I am referring to the people who you are working with… But, above all I’m talking about you; Your mind, your heart, your body, your corage, your life, your fears, your commitments, and your ambitions.

These are the comrades you take with you always.

With my students I need not go to this extent since the purpose of Cycle #3 is to develop strength, greater confidence, coordination, flexibility, and the control that can only be acquired through the decision to do something in a certain way every time.

I am of the belief that learning a choreography is the fastest way to become a better dancer. It will challenge you, test your mind, your body, and your character.

When I first got started, I chose to learn to dance because I wanted to become a better leader in life, and in business. I wanted to understand the subtle nuances of communicating with the people who choose to follow me, and give me their trust.

At the time, I knew I was lacking…

but, in an instant I knew… if I could lead on the dance floor, then I would be able to lead in life. They are one and the same; however, on the dance floor the stakes are not as high and you can learn from your mistakes in a safe environment. You also get instant feedback if you choose to pay attention.

To close part 2 of “What it takes to perform” series I leave you with a quote from
Genghis Kahn. This quote was shared by Kublai Kahn with his wife the eve before his battle at Xianyang, China.

His grandfather Genghis had failed to capture the city passed the great wall, and for generations the family failed. They said it could not be done, and no man had found out how to do it… But there was hope in the crazy ingenuity of young Marco Polo, the venetian adventurer who would soon be killed for his mistakes at the initial battle with the Song dynasty.

Kublai Kahn had lost half his army in the initial battle at Xianyang, and his cousin Kaidu would not be at the battlefield to support this second campaign.

However Kublai Kahn was haunted by this inability to win. His resolve was to finish what his grandfather started.

The late Genghis Kahn once told his grandson:
“There is no good in anything that is left unfinished”

I ask that you reflect on this message from grandfather to grandson, because as I gain more experience in life… make mistakes, suffer, and try new things I am constantly reminded of the major difference between a project started, and a project completed.

Today, you choose your team. It is in the beginning where you determine if you will finish, or be seduced off the path of mastery.
Godspeed, and may you find mastery in something.