Intro: Welcome to Words That Move Me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you, get the information and inspiration you need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host, Dana Wilson, and I move people. I am all about the tools and techniques that empower tomorrow's leaders to make the work of their dreams and live a full life while doing it. So whether you're new to the game or transitioning to your next echelon of greatness, you're in the right place.
Dana: Hello, hello, my friend. Welcome to words that move me.I am Dana. I am jazzed that you are here today. <laugh> oh, my friend. Get ready for a philosophical sidewinder. I have just come back from a five day vacation/road trip. I guess road trips are vacations. Um, and I thought lots of thoughts on that trip that I will now spit into this microphone, but first <laugh> let's do wins.
We start every episode here with wins. I think it's important to celebrate. What's going well in your world, big or small. Um, today I am celebrating, this is a, this is a very decent sized win. This is a substantial win. I am celebrating a hell of a hell of a that's one word, hell of a New York City Dance Alliance nationals event in Phoenix. On top of that, like the cherry on top of that choreographing a six minute production number for 91 kids between age seven and 10. Do that math real quick. Yep. 91 little ones between seven and 10. Super shout out to Abby Tatro and Riley Higgins for the assist could not have done it without you both. Um, but this is, this is a particularly big win for me because several years ago, when I took on this job, nay, this quest, this mission, this life event, that really is what that is.
Um, that year I lost my voice for six days. I cried and I swore I would never do it again. It was too much for one human to take on. Um, it was tough this year. Not only did I not lose my voice or the control of my tear ducts, we finished the number in two rehearsals, N not clean, but finished in two rehearsals. And then I had so much energy and enthusiasm left over. I even took it upon myself to customize 91 little bomber jackets, little gold bomber jackets. So freaking cute. Um, I spray painted the initials of every tiny dancing onto the back of their jackets. Don't tell anyone, but <laugh>, I spray painted all the J;s backwards and apparently one little mini had the fully wrong initials, even though Riley did some very good quality control work. It's just 91. I mean, six boo boos out of 91 is not that bad. I'm celebrating this number, a win. I'm celebrating the teamwork, a win. And next time I will have a different method for, uh, stenciling custom initials, or we'll just have a better plan in general. Anyways. That's what I'm celebrating. Now you go, what is going well in your world? Say it out loud. Shout it. If you'd like sing it. If you're crafty, Actually, I would love to hear that. Please sing your jingle.
Yay. Wow. All right. Congratulations. I am so glad you are winning. Keep it up, keep doing what you're doing and do it better next time backwards J’s. Oh my God. <laugh> too much. All right. I know I've kind of already heads you up to this, but this episode is a, um, a mind bender. It will probably offer more questions than answers. And I think that's wonderful. I hope that you do too now on the heels of this massive work month of mine and an almost long enough vacation. I wanna talk about aspiration and relaxation, ambition and vacation. I think those are synonyms. Um, but I I'm, I'm wondering what it would look like and feel like if we danced or substitute work for dance, if we worked not to get better, not to get noticed, not to get jobs or like make money, but to simply move our bodies or to move people. What if, what if we had no expectations from our training other than to be in a place exploring the intersection of our mind and our body? What if we had no expectations from our work other than to be chronicling where we are, what we can do and what we find interesting in this very moment?
What if, when we took a break, we took it without the goal of being better workers. When we got back, I know most people only take vacations when they get so burnt out that they can't work well anymore. And they're thinking I need to take a vacation so that I can work well, when I get back from vacation <laugh> now these are big questions and I won't pretend to have the answers to them, but I will pretend to question them. I will question these questions and hopefully learn something in the process. I will also make a hypothesis. My hypothesis is that when we, and by we right now, I really do mean dancers dancing. Like when we dancers remove ambition aspirations goals from our training, we will likely still improve. And sometimes in ways that we did not could not plan for this absence of ambition might even be the key to hidden secret levels of skill and capability that your goal oriented self couldn't have broken down the door into, even if they knew exactly where they were and what they were doing.
Now, I don't mean to bring the hope of unlocking skill and potential capabilities, AKA aspiration. Um, I don't mean to bring that into the picture. I don't mean to tell you that in order to get better, you must release the idea of getting better. That would be foolish of me to do that, even though I know most of you are here to get better and that, that would probably make a great podcast episode <laugh>, but it's not what I'm telling you. My hypothesis is that when we release ambition, we float into something that might even be better than progress.
Looking hot, JK JK <laugh>. That is not the thing that is better than progress. I think that when we release ambition, we might find ourselves being enough. Exactly. As we are enough right now, the more I coach dancers, the more I work with professionals in this industry, the more I come upon this challenge, this idea of enough and that the dramatic majority of us think that we aren't. I think that releasing ambition just might be the key to finding ourselves winning, without competing. So imagine that for a second, like literally imagine that feeling enough while you work, feeling like you're winning without being in competition. Oof. I think that's powerful now moment for a disclaimer. If I may, my point of view might fully be the perspective of a mid thirties dancer, choreographer, whose knees hurt every single day. And yo also, if ambition is working for you, great, keep on climbing, but hear me out.
It's possible that in this chapter of my life, I'm simply looking for the path of we'll call it less resistance, but it is also possible that I'm really onto something here. So go with me and I hope this episode provides a, a useful perspective for you in your training, uh, whether you are a student or teacher. Here's my thought. I think that hoop jumpers who are trained to jump through hoops will jump through hoops, insert check boxes. If that helps you imagine this better. I think a lot of us are simply checking the boxes of life, you know, win a gold medal, become outstanding dancer, go to an important school, graduate dance on company, get married, have kid by van the end. I don't know, but I, I, I do know that a lot of us are trained to check boxes or to jump through hoops.
Our default answer when we are given direction is like, okay, how many turns, how high is the jump on? What count do I land? Um, and I think that, that that's okay, but what happens when you miss the hoop? What happens when there are no hoops laid out for you? And what is the good of jumping through hoops anyways? <laugh> I told you more questions than answers, but if you think that I have to jump through this hoop, if you think I have to get better, I have to do more. I have to yeah. Get better. Then you probably will for some amount of time, but that thought is likely to run out of gas once you're already pretty good. And when it does, what else is there? What rules do you live by when you don't have to get better? Check this out this past week during my advanced class at NYCDA, I had the best class of my nationals experience.
Speaker 0 00:11:23 Second place was my junior ballroom, where we danced to zero to hero from Hercules classic. I digress, um, in the advanced room, the senior ballroom, I taught a throwback, something that I taught or, well, I choreographed it back in 2014. I think maybe I had taught it more recently than that, but it's an older, uh, an oldie, but a goody we'll call it in this combo. There is a huge locking influence. If you know me, you know, locking is one of my favorite styles, if not my favorite style of dance. Um, and I, I decided to teach this piece well full knowing, well, knowing not sure. Well, well knowing that most of the dancers in the ballroom had very little to zero locking experience. Oh my gosh, we went zero to hero even in the senior ballroom, see that, see what I did there. Okay.
Um, I, I basically taught a foundation level explanation of basic steps, um, some context of the origin of the style and its creator. And then I made a simple ask. I said, please release your ambition. Let go of the idea of getting better. Let go of the idea of getting noticed and simply hold onto your experience of your body, this music, this space, and these people who are here with you right now. And yo it felt like someone took the lid off of a boiling pot of water. I could hear little bubbles and bursts of laughter and genuine support, hoots and hollers for each other. I, yeah, I saw, I saw energy, like movement, energy spraying up over the edge of the room and movement wise. Yes. There was also some spraying, some, some little bits of, out of controlness, but that was a risk I was willing to take <laugh> after all a ballroom full of 100 plus dancers with little to no experience in this style of dance.
Like we weren't about to become squeaky clean in a 60 minute class, even if ambition was in the driver's seat. So I took ambition out of the car altogether and, uh, released it. And I believe that we were all rewarded for that. What I saw in the room was special. What I heard in terms of feedback from students and observers was, I mean, nobody gave me any negative feedback of the class, but it was, um, unanimously positive feedback. So will that happen every time I try this approach to teaching and to learning? Maybe not, probably not, but is it an option? Yes. Is it a valid option? Hell yes. Can you remove ambition from the training experience and still improve and enjoy abso-freaking-lutely Yes. So here's my conclusion. I believe that people who live by ambition, who, who are steered by productivity and progress and goals, I believe they will likely experience great success, success for lack of a better word.
Um, but they will also experience great loss, great heartbreak, great disappointment, great rejection, all the things they will experience a 50/50, you know, realm of life because they're human. Some of it will be great. Some of it will be terrible. People who live without any ambition or aspiration of any sort will also experience life 50/50. I imagine there's great freedom in that way of living. I also imagine there being possibly a lack of security or certainty, maybe even a lack of community. So wouldn't it be great if you knew how to do both, if you knew that that lack of ambition was an option and a useful one, a valid one, if you knew when to deploy your ambition, your sense of, of seeking progress and your sense of simply being, wouldn't it be awesome if you were at the control center, you know, managing that dial?
Um, I, I think it's worth being able to turn ambition on and off now on the subject of vacation and relaxation. <laugh> I, I know many people that return from vacations, more exhausted, more stressed than they were when they left, but I kid you not my friend when I returned from the grand canyon, literally after an eight hour drive, almost, I can't say literally eight hours, cuz it wasn't quite eight hours, but I literally returned from a seven plus hour drive and was dancing through the aisles at the grocery store. I cannot explain it. Actually. I can sort of explain it. <laugh> at whole foods, they were playing. Evan finds the third room, which is one of my favorite songs ever of all time period, the end and the video for it might even be better than the song. It is standalone. I will link to both in the show notes anyways.
Um, the point is, what is the point? The point is, I believe I came back energized from this vacation. My vacation was not perfect. It was not exceptionally special or expensive or, or even, you know, face value different than other trips I'd taken in the past. It was full. It was, it was full of sadness. Some frustration, lots of awe and wonder and love. But the whole time I did not try to make it something that it wasn't when my brain offered. You should be having fun. You should be having a romantic dinner. You should be working out or you should pay some emails, at least a little bit of attention. So you don't fall behind. Oh, and then here's my favorite. You should go ahead and eat fiery hot Cheetos and drink a Starbucks frappuccino. <laugh> oh, wows up. Um, have you seen that usher meme?
I'm sure you have from the performance he did at tiny desk. Um, listen, I said, I'm gonna eat whatever the hell I want and usher <laugh> just snapped it into the picture and said, watch this. <laugh> watch this anyways. I'm fine. My guts are fine. When my brain offered me, you should, I lovingly offered it. I offered myself. I am, I am indulging right now and I can stop anytime I want. I am learning about the people that I love. I am giving my imagination time to wander. I am enjoying not touching my phone. I am really, really small in a big world. I am big enough to decide for myself.
I, this, this was a big shift for me to be accepting what I am instead of telling myself what I should or shouldn't that simple shift I think is what made this vacation different than all the others. So if you are a person who's been waiting to give themselves a break, take a freaking break. And while you do it, put the shoulds and shouldn't aside and start to explore the AMS. Fill in the blank. I am blank and you are not blank. My friend you are full. So is your life. That is what it will be because you are a human. Um, so speaking of taking breaks, I am going to take a break for one more week. You will not hear from me next Wednesday. Oh, what? The first week off in 132 episodes. Believe it or not. Uh, yes, it is the one year anniversary of my vocal cord surgery.
And I'm taking some time to reflect on my recovery on my voice in general. So you will not get a new episode from me on Wednesday, but the beauty of podcasting is that you can still hear me anytime. You'd like go back and revisit any of the previous 132 episodes. And while you're at it, please, if you are moved, if you are digging, what you hear, leave a review, leave a rating. It not only helps other people find the podcast, but it helps me to know what lights you up. Um, I so appreciate that little boost and that engagement, uh, love hearing from you. So leave a review, leave a rating, enjoy your ambition or absence of ambition. And even if it's only for a few hours, I do encourage you to take a break from shoulds and shouldn't enjoy what you are. I will leave you with that today. My friend go out there into the world, keep it very, very funky and I will talk to you soon. Bye.
Outro: This podcast was produced by me with the help of many music by Max Winney logo and brand design by Bree reets and a big thanks to Riley Higgins, our executive assistant and editor, and also a massive thanks to you. The mover, who is no stranger to taking action, I will not stand in the way of you taking action. I will not cannot stop you from downloading episodes or leaving a review and a rating. I cannot keep you from visiting thedanawilson.com to join our mailing list. I will not ban you from my online store for spending your hard earned money on the cool merch and awesome programs. That'll await you there. And of course, if you want to talk with me, work with me and make moves with the rest of the words that move me community, I will 100% not stop you. Visit thedanawilson.com to become a member and get a peak at everything else I do that is not a weekly podcast. Keep it funky, everyone.