My story starts with the school five years ago when I first took over.
TDS became my home when I joined it. I finally found a place where I #belong, where I could build something amazing and offer it to everybody. Everybody who walked through my door, I didn’t want to just teach dancing, I wanted to offer more value. I wanted to have my students, when they leave my class after that one hour of fun, to go and build the life that they deserve.
Part of what I wanted to do at the end of my classes, is have my students huddle together and share stories to build them up. When I first started, I was really bad at it. I was not a good public speaker. Nobody else in any other school, let alone a dance school would do something like this. When you go to a dance school, you just learn to dance. Nobody really builds people up and that’s what I wanted to offer.
When I first started teaching, I was a fun instructor and then I started to include personal coaching stories and speeches to build people up. But, I was really bad at it. One semester, I was so bad, I had the lowest scores of any instructor in the history of TDS. That was really hard. The worst of it was when one of the students wrote feedback and said that “I didn’t come here to listen to a B rated Tony Robbins. I came here to dance.” It hurt to hear that because all I was trying to do is offer my students love from of a place of belonging.
Another feedback that came was “I didn’t come here to listen to Aleks yap. I came here to learn to dance. I will never come back to this school again and I will tell everybody to stay away from this school.” So when I read these two feedback’s, I honestly cried. I cried because everybody around me, all the people, all the dancers that I respect immensely believed that I was making a mistake.
The stories I do, all that was silliness and I need to quit on it and focus just on teaching dancing. Where in my heart I knew that people coming to our dance school, they’re not just here learning to want to dance. They’re really learning to feel good, to connect with amazing people, to feel that they’re worthy of making contact with someone, to make friends and to feel like they #belong. And that’s what I thought I was trying to tap into.
Then everybody around me was saying I was crazy. The people and the students that I love so much, they’re saying I’m crazy. So, I honestly wanted to quit. I wanted to quit on the school. I wanted to quit on my dream. I wanted to go back sales. It was really hard for me, when everybody around you thinks you’re crazy and you’re wrong. You start to doubt and start to question your values.
So I had two options, either I doubled down, ignore the haters, and just accept that I’m bad at public speaking and get good. Or quit on it, retreat and just be a fun instructor. Just focus on the dancing, on being loud and energetic. And, I honestly took the second option.
I took the option of going to go back to being a fun instructor and just build my confidence up. And that’s what I did. In one semester I became the best instructor just by being fun in the history of our school. Once I built that confidence up, I knew I can’t quit on my vision. So I started doing the speeches again. Little by little, four years later, I worked my way up to being a great instructor who teaches dance and builds people up.
Here’s the life lesson. Life will hit you hard. Sometimes, it will knock the wind out of you and you’ll have to go back. Like a bow and an arrow, sometimes you’ll have to pull back in life to launch forward. It’s okay if you have to retreat back to collect yourself. Just always remember the most important part – you are the only one that holds yourself back. So like a bow and an arrow, how long when you pull back you wait until you launch forward, you get to decide that!
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