Lately, I’ve been thinking about mistakes.  It’s a relevant topic for me since I am learning new dance routines!  Believe me, making mistakes is not new to me.  I make mistakes of varying size and consequence on a consistent basis.  And I must say that I am good at deconstructing my mistakes, attempting to understand where it went wrong.   As a self-aware, reflective and mature adult, this is what I am supposed to do.  We have all been told since childhood to learn from our mistakes and to not make the same mistake twice.  I am guessing that I have spent countless hours and untold energy examining my mistakes based on this mantra.  I believe there is some value in reflecting on our mistakes, but dancing has taught me that this approach doesn’t always work.

I have accepted the fact that every time I dance I am going to make mistakes.  Ballroom dancing is hard and mistakes simply come with the territory.   I have also realized that my usual approach to “mistake management” doesn’t work on the dance floor.  I needed a new routine. Thanks to dancing I am learning the steps to cha-cha right through my mistakes.

  • Step One:  Own it.  I tell myself that the misstep is the step I intended to take. I must simply use that step to get me to the next one.
  • Step Two:  Wait for it.  When I make a mistake I slow down, breathe and wait for the next beat.  If I am focused on catching what I missed the new beat will pass me by.
  • Step Three: Sell It.  Smile through my mistake, dance as if I nailed it, and boogie on. And what I’ve realized is that when I am willing to do this, the audience boogies right along with me.

So that’s it…three steps.   But they aren’t simple steps. We’ve been taught to stop our dance when we make a mistake.  To figure out the misstep before we take the next step.  When you are on the dance floor there is no time for that.  Before you know it the song will be over and you won’t have danced your dance.  So we can use our mistakes as a reason to stay off the dance floor or we can shake it ‘til we cha-cha.  I vote for shaking it!