Finding balance at work with a twirl and a whirl

Why competitive dancing is the secret work weapon The Brooklyn Brothers founder

Our business is all-consuming. Constantly changing, it gives so much, but can demand a huge amount in return.  To do what we do, we need to be fresh and inspired by the next challenge.  It’s exhilarating... and down-right exhausting!

Five years ago, I had a bit of a revelation. To keep bringing my A-game to our business I needed to spend time being out of it.  Doing something that took me totally out of my comfort zone, trying to master a skill so stupidly hard it took every ounce just to stay on my feet.

And that’s when I found my secret work weapon -  Pro-Am Ballroom Dancing. 

It’s a place where I’ve found not only my joy, but a constant well of inspiration and creativity that helps me on a daily basis.  Yes, there’s fake tan, glitter and inch thick makeup but there are also life lessons that have proved so incredibly useful. 

For example, the importance of good partnering.  Our industry is notorious for egos but nothing is achieved in isolation and partnering is such an overlooked skill. I compete in International Standard (Waltz, Fox, Tango, Quickstep, Viennese) and the only way my partner and I communicate on the floor is right side to right side.  Which direction we’re going, what steps we’re doing, if I’m not listening, constantly alert to my partner’s smallest movement, we’ll end up in a tangle – and when you’re trying to cover a football pitch with six strides of foxtrot, you want to be heading in the same direction!  We look out for and after each other, we’re precious as a unit. 

And then there’s resilience.  The need to keep going, keep practising and to get it wrong as well as right.  Sometimes I just can’t get it, I’m an idiot, nothing goes in.  But I’ve learnt those are the most important times in your dancing, you have to push through. It’s only then your subconscious takes over and lays down strong memory tracks.  Next time you’re on the floor it comes, you can do it. We push ourselves so hard at work and expect everything to be perfect first time.  But that’s not life. Lasting success is made up of all those hours grafting time and again, getting it wrong and learning. 

So, watch out next time we see each other in a meeting. I’ll be the one extolling the virtues of dancing and trying to get you to give it a go with me on the floor. 

Jackie Stevenson is founder of The Brooklyn Brothers

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