Leading Myself: A Latin Dance Experience


Even though I'm a clear "E" (extroverted) on my Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I get very nervous about doing things alone - especially going out. I have been itching to do more Latin dance but was afraid of going to a club by myself. Who will go with me? What if my friends don't want to go? If I go alone, will people think I'm weird? Will there be shady characters ? Will I not know the steps?

I dug deep and realized that these questions were holding me back, and I challenged myself to let go of them. My coach - Jess Grippo - said in a recent group session, "In doing the things that scare us most, we may discover a whole, new better way of being." I found a Meetup.com group that posts a Latin dance night. They have beginners' lessons and then open dance. I knew the class would be on the easy side, but hopefully it would be an opportunity to make a few new friends before everything became "Havana Nights."

You can probably guess what happened next. I LOVED IT! During the class, one new friend encouraged me to try to learn the lead part instead of just the follow part. I caught myself shrugging my shoulders and saying, "Why? I can just follow you." What he helped me realize is that there are benefits of both leading and following, and if we don't learn both parts, we will miss out.

When you follow, you only have to hold your footwork and go along for the ride. The freedom, curiosity, and anticipation of not knowing what will come next is a wonderful exercise in letting go and being comfortable with ambiguity. But when you lead, you have to think strategically. You have to go beyond your internal listening and pay attention to who is around you, what direction you will go in, and how you can best support your partner and their unique style. We have to learn both parts in order to live fully.

When the lights dimmed and the DJ cranked up the Salsa, Cha-Cha, and Bachata beats, I fell into a natural rhythm. I had a blast, and I am thrilled to have a new dance angle to explore that is just mine.

Facilitation Application

Working groups and teams need to learn how to lead themselves and then follow their moves, changing the steps and course-correcting when needed. Facilitators may want to use social dance as a team-building activity that would encourage a conversation about leading, following, and supporting your partners.

What does it look like to lead and follow in your life and work?

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