“Dancing with the Fear” is not a metaphor

I think it was through my focus on dancing that I came to discover Seth Godin. An inspiring person, a thinker, and teacher. I have not met him in person or even talked with him personally – but I have been very touched by each piece of writing that I have found so far and also by hearing him speak on podcasts and videos.
And one of the things he is talking about a lot is dancing with fear. And that – obviously – resonated with me.

If you haven’t read anything by him, I can really recommend his daily blog. Through following this blog, I read about a one-month training program that he created and during the summer, when I started a rethinking process for how I present what I want to bring to the world – I decided to participate in the altMBA. (I appreciated it so much, that I’m happily linking to it here. No benefit for me, if you sign up, besides maybe having someone to talk to about it afterward and knowing, that more of this way of thinking is getting out there.)

It has been an intense month – also due to conflicts that arose on a different front – of thinking, shipping my ideas, thoughts, projects. An intense month of working together with people from all over the world and through the power of questions and community support being pushed towards edges: what do you want? who do you want to create this for and what is holding you back?

And this is where the dance with fear appears again. Because in so many situations it is my own fear of something (of others, of unknown situations, of failure, of my own power) that holds me back.

Or rather I would say, my reaction to the fear – my unwillingness to face it and actually deal with the implications of this fear. If I don’t try to not be afraid, but actually and consider this to be my partner in a dance, my attitude completely changes and all the challenges get a level of joy and pleasure that I didn’t experience before.

I have come to realize, that for me, this „dancing with fear“ is much more than just an amazing metaphor. It is very literal. On so many levels!

Dancing is an activity that anyone can do and does at times.

It is a very physical activity that has so many different versions, it’s impossible to count them all. Even in just one person’s life.
Dancing happens spontaneously (like Mr.Ramesh here offers for example) and in my eyes it has to be voluntary, to actually be a dance. (And not “random or choreographed movement to music“).
Dealing with fear as a dance then, too means, that I choose to engage with the constraints or threats that I meet and discover which moves they invite me to make.
Like I choose which instrument in the music I focus on, to emphasize with my feet or arms, while still hearing all the rest of the music, I can also choose which constraint to focus on and build on to grow in a scary moment.

Like I follow and look for a common rhythm with a dance partner, and adjust my steps to the beat of the music, I can adjust the way I breathe to the intensity of a moment. I can adjust the required move to the rhythm I notice when I listen to the whole situation.

And. As there are structured dances like lindy hop or tango, that provide tools and tricks to dance together and learn cool moves (endless ones, for the nerdy type) – there are steps, moves, series of exercises that I can train with in order to be able to improvise more fluently and more smoothly, once I’m on the dance floor or experience fear.
I can practice the move a million times on my own, bring it close to perfection, stop my automatic contraction when I’m afraid. I can practice speaking slowly and moving my mouth without contracting my neck.

And this is part of the „non metaphor“ that so much connects with my thinking process of the last months though: I love to get nerdy about this and train. And I love also to discover with others, how to become more smooth in their dance. I love to discover, which of the basics they would benefit from and where it is an advanced trick, that would be more beneficial.

There is the basic rhythm – our breath – which we can practice adjusting to the different intensities of the fear (music? dance partner?) There is the element of choice – deciding to dance with the partner and both listen and give impulses rather than trying to either know it all or try to control what is happening around me.
There are sequences in the body that you can learn and train. And you can become very nerdy, very detailed bout them to come towards „perfection“ of the move (ask my friends about this).

And still, in the end, the magic happens not out of perfection but out of throwing yourself out there in a situation or a performance and improvising, adapting, playing with what you have practiced. Or just what is there.

This week I discovered something scary. I discovered, that I have been very strongly convinced that I’m not a dancer.
And that despite the fact, that I have always danced a lot (I even learned to dance my name, but that’s a different story) and for the past five years even several times a week.
But – I have never become a professionally performing dancer. And I think, at some point as a little girl I might have wanted to become one. So not being that, was part of the identity, that I have created over the years.

Realizing this, I also realized how much I would love to share my love for dancing more and integrate it more into what I’m doing. It is scary because I’m afraid some people won’t take me seriously when I talk about living with an attitude of a dancer. And then again – I don’t want to dance with those people, so that’s ok. I’ll just dance with those who want to.

While I was dancing on Sunday, I realized that this is what it’s about for me. To share the attitude of dancing for any life situation. And to share the actual tools and steps of learning the dance with fear.
So – here is to living with an attitude of dancing.

If you’re curious and there is a subject you would like to learn to dance with – let’s look at it together.
I’ll happily share my moves with you.

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