Striving to inspire excellence one child at a time for over 10 years, not only excellence in dance but also excellence as people! Wow, what a statement and a mission to undertake! Excellence? What is Excellence? Webster defines excellence as, "the quality of being outstanding or extremely good." Aristotle was quoted as saying, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore, is not an act but a habit." Then there is the ever successful Steve Jobs who said, "Be a yardstick of quality. Some people aren't used to an environment where excellence is expected." Or Colin Powell, "Success is the result of perfection, hard work, learning from failure, loyalty, and persistence." Do you see a theme here? Striving to inspire our students to be excellent... that is a lofty goal; but definitely one that I and my staff take seriously! There are tons of statements by successful people that tout the benefits of working hard and striving for excellence. Do you notice the pattern? These are successful people who have achieved many things in their lives! Did they have failures too? Absolutely! But, overall they are typically viewed as successful people. Our children need to understand that failure IS part of our journey, whether in dance or in life, but it is what we do after that failure that makes us successful for the long-run! Putting in the effort and hard-work to become the best person/ dancer that they can be will NEVER be a mistake and will always take them to wonderful heights in life!
Hard Work+Commitment+Persistence+ Dreaming = Success
Is there a formula for success? I'm pretty sure that every successful person out there probably could give us theirs and each probably would be somewhat different. But the standard formula, I think, will always contain the same elements. I absolutely love the quote at the top by Tim Notke, " Hard work beats Talent when Talent doesn't work hard." Can I get an AMEN?! There are so many people that are talented at something and they just squander their abilities. One example that comes to mind for me immediately is Johnny Manziel. What a waste! But there are those people out there that have to work just a little bit harder to get to even play the game and that go on and become the best that there is!! (JK Rowling, Seabiscuit, Jim Morris, Oprah Winfrey, Ralph Lauren - Just a few examples that popped in my head of people that worked hard to beat the odds against them!) I see dancers every day that have to work really hard at getting something and I can tell you 1) They appreciate it when they get it because they had to work their butts off to achieve it and 2) They are easier to coach and have the best attitudes because they WANT IT!! They are learning the formula for success! True success is gained by working hard, staying committed, being persistent, making sure that you never stop dreaming and setting goals!
So How Can We/ You Inspire Excellence?
There are so many articles that are out there today that lists this generation as the entitled generation and how our kids aren't going to know the value of hard work. Do I believe that it is true? No, not necessarily. I do think that some parents have very good intentions and want to make things easier for their children then what it was for them. BUT, NOTHING IN LIFE IS JUST GIVEN TO YOU! They need to learn that lesson while they are young! You can't force your child to want to participate in anything. You also can't make your child want to do a good job or succeed. But, as parents, we DO have a say about what we invest our time and money into! If your child doesn't enjoy something, why put them in it continuously? Are they going to start liking it? Probably not. Cultivate your CHILD'S interests. Help your child understand their strengths and the areas that they aren't as good at and cultivate the thought that anything worth having, is truly worth working for! If dance (insert sport) is truly what they want to do, then they need to be prepared to WORK at it! I think that the first step is to be honest with your child about what you are seeing. I'm not talking about beating them down or making them feel defeated; but I am saying to have an honest conversation about what their weaknesses are and what are their strengths. I have this conversation constantly with dancers. As they go across the floor, a typical correction for a jump sequence might sound like this, "You had great height, but you need to work on your turnout in your back leg more so you can extend your legs farther." Or, "That was a nice side-leap but your shoulders are raised. Remember that shoulders don't lift when we jump, we should use our legs and feet to push us off the floor not our shoulders." I also stop dancers a lot of times and have them tell me what they did incorrectly and discuss what they saw, what I saw, and then how to effectively correct the issues. These realistic self-evaluations become tools that our children can then use later in life to continuously improve, gain self-confidence, independent critical thinking skills (that don't require approval of others to know their own self-worth), and leads to successful adults!
Here are some key things I try to stress to my dancers and own kids constantly:
~ Life is HARD some days, doesn't mean we aren't blessed. Remember your blessings, be thankful. The hard days will pass, so remember to focus on the good ones!
~ Stay humble, you can always learn new things and be better than what you are, no matter what it is. The best dancer in the world can still learn new things from a basic ballet class EVERY SINGLE DAY! Know that you can grow and be better and push yourself to be that! Applaud those that are doing great things and try to learn from them!
~ Strive to keep learning and growing always!
~ Always be the hardest worker in the room! There is no substitute for pure sweat of the brow!! Work hard and keep pushing yourself!!
~ Never give up - EVER! Believe in yourself and surround yourself with people that believe in you too!
~ There is no substitute for personal discipline either! Do the right thing even when no one is looking!
~ Always do your best and strive to be the best that you can be everyday in everything!
~ Give it your whole heart and effort no matter what it is!
~ Champions are not made accidentally! They are made with lots of forethought and planning!
~ Don't settle! Don't allow yourself to be OK with good enough, keep pushing until you reach that excellent mark!
~ Be inspired! Be inspired by others that have succeeded and don't strive to become them but rather strive to achieve even more than them!
So yes, striving to inspire excellence is a lofty goal; but for me it is truly more than just words. It is a creed that I strive to work at every single day that I am able to teach dancers. I want to inspire them to be Great dancers and Great People and hopefully, I can succeed and pass along at least some sort of information to them that will help them be both!
Crystal Sizemore is the owner and artistic director of Center Stage Dance Studio. She has a MBA and Bachelor's degree in Business with a minor in dance. She lives in Enterprise, Alabama with her husband and 3 kids.
Inspiring excellence one child at a time. Striving to offer an encouraging, supportive, family-oriented, and loving environment that teaches not only proper dance technique, based on a structured curriculum; but also teaches life skills taught by a passionate and caring faculty.
Enterprise Location - 1107 Rucker Blvd., Enterprise