With the year drawing to a close and a fresh beginning on the horizon, there is no better time to examine the attitudes and strategies we adopt to cope with the ups and downs of daily existence.
In her new memoir,Becoming Ginger Rogers: How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner, and Smarter CEO, Patrice Tanaka shares the story of how she committed to living in the present while putting joy in her life.
The shattering events of 9/11 are a backdrop to the beginning of Tanaka’s narration. The Twin Towers had been part of the view from her office window. She found herself repeatedly reflecting upon the losses experienced by those in the New York community—and the temporal nature of human beings. She was also dealing with her own struggles, both professional and personal.
Tanaka lays out the health challenges that she experienced from 1989 through 1990, and the illness of her adored husband, “Mr. Sweetheart,” who fought a cancerous brain tumor for fifteen years. During this period of time, she watched her spouse endure surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy treatment. Tanaka became his caretaker, and despite the draining effects recognized a major message on the choice of how we experience life—“as a chore or as a joy.”
At the end of 2001, Tanaka was “exhausted and depressed.” A session in mid-2002 with an executive coach became a turning point for her when she was challenged with the question, “What is your grand mission in life, your true purpose on the planet?” Tanaka, still consumed by thoughts of those who had perished in the 9/11 attacks, kept focusing on the concept of living in the moment in a way that was meaningful.
She told her coach that her specific meaning was to “choose joy each day.” When pressed to identify what brought her joy, Tanaka responded unequivocally, “Dancing.” She was given the assignment to book a dancing lesson for herself.
The reader follows Tanaka into the world of ballroom dancing, where her life was about to change in unexpected ways as she masters lessons on the dance floor that resonate far beyond new steps and winning competitions.
Without a doubt, women will personally relate to the material. This includes the quest for perfectionism, apologizing too much, the need do put matters into context, and fear of failure or losing control. Through her dancing, Tanaka gradually morphs from a top PR executive who has carried the nickname “Ayatollah Tanaka,” to an in-the-moment “Samba Girl,” who can stop to celebrate her achievements and dance through her mistakes. Eager to dig deeper into her insights, I spoke with Tanaka by telephone. She was open in discussing her personal transformation, telling me, “It’s about pursuing your joy. It will permeate your being. There is no downside!” Tanaka told me the she had written the book to help others and to communicate the key message, “Pursue your joy with a sense of urgency. Live out full and fiercely today with no regrets.”
I asked her to comment on the blocks that had hamstrung her and that remain problematic for so many women. On perfectionism she said, “It’s a fear based approach to life. We want to be perfect because we worry that if we make one mistake, people are going to stop loving us.” She qualified that path as a way of “disenfranchising others.” She explained, “Just because I make a mistake, doesn’t mean I’m a failure. Failures are stepping stones to success.” She specifically underscored how they could be applied to moving forward. Regarding always putting other people’s needs first, Tanaka pronounced it a “female thing,” noting, “We want to make sure others are taken care of.
We are trying to be there 200 percent, and we put ourselves last.” In her business practice, Tanaka referred to the habit of giving more than 100 percent as “over-servicing.”
Underscoring the choice to choose between focusing on negativity or on blessings, Tanaka believes getting in touch with the gratitude can stop “the slide into the abyss.” One of the tips that she shared when we spoke was about creating a “joy calendar,” where you actively schedule two to three things per month to look forward to. In addition, every night she makes a mental note of the positive episodes of her day. She is a firm believer that “whatever we request and are mindful of, we generate.”
Tanaka’s instructor, dance champion Emmanuel Pierre-Antoine, repeatedly conveyed, “Focus on your present step and do it full-out, because your present step is what’s going to produce our next step.” When Tanaka became able to implement this advice into her dance work, she then translated that mindset into her corporate life. She connected to the concept of “manifesting” results rather than forcing them.
My favorite takeaways were: “Let’s try to make the best decisions we can in the moment; Just breathe; Let’s jump off that bridge when we get to it!”
At the conclusion of Becoming Ginger Rogers, Tanaka has reached the Silver level in Pro-Am ballroom competition. Her philosophy has evolved to using her energy in a more productive way. She has “aligned” the different facets of who she is to reinforce each other. Most importantly, she has reconnected with herself, physically and emotionally.
Before our conversation ended, Tanaka reiterated, “We must pursue our joy with a sense of urgency. We don’t have an infinite future.”
As we move into 2012, the target of “staying the in the present” with that joy is a valuable aspiration.
Via Susan CainManifesto
1. There’s a word for “people who are in their heads too much”: thinkers.
2. Our culture rightly admires risk-takers, but we need our “heed-takers” more than ever.
3. Solitude is a catalyst for innovation.
4. Texting is popular because in an overly extroverted society, everyone craves asynchronyous, non-F2F communication.
5. We teach kids in group classrooms not because this is the best way to learn but because it’s cost-efficient, and what else would we do with the children while all the grown-ups are at work? If your child prefers to work autonomously and socialize one-on-one, there’s nothing wrong with her; she just happens not to fit the model.
6. The next generation of quiet kids can and should be raised to know their own strength.
7. Sometimes it helps to be a pretend-extrovert. There’s always time to be quiet later.
8. But in the long run, staying true to your temperament is the key to finding work you love and work that matters.
9. Everyone shines, given the right lighting. For some, it’s a Broadway spotlight, for others, a lamplit desk.
10. Rule of thumb for networking events: one genuine new relationship is worth a fistful of business cards.
11. It’s OK to cross the street to avoid making small talk.
12. “Quiet leadership” is not an oxymoron.
13. The universal longing for heaven is not about immortality so much as the wish for a world in which everyone is always kind.
14. If the task of the first half of life is to put yourself out there, the task of the second half is to make sense of where you’ve been.
15. Love is essential, gregariousness is optional.
16. “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – Gandhi
Chris, Adding a little warmth to your holidays. May you have a happy, healthy Christmas and all your wishes come true in the New Year. With Love, Sheri Leblanc You gave a $5.00 Starbucks Card eGift to Chris
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JayneAdding a little warmth to your holidays. May you have a happy, healthy Christmas and all your wishes come true in the New Year. With Love, Sheri Leblanc You gave a $5.00 Starbucks Card eGift to Jayne
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via Janet Callaway
Have you ever thought about how what happens in sports is a reflection of life? That perhaps sports are a microcosm of life?
I’d like to add that these quotes reflect what dance teaches as well.
What started me down this path was a quote I read the other day by Oprah Winfrey:
“Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”
What a true statement that is. Just like you can’t hire someone to do your pushups for you, if you want more out of life, out of a relationship, if you want to win at whatever you choose, you must go all out, put yourself into it 100%+.
“Setting a goal is not the main thing. It is deciding how you will go about achieving it and staying with that plan. ” Tom Landry
“The key is not the “will to win” – everybody has that. It is the will to prepare to win that is important.”Bobby Knight
To succeed in any endeavor, it takes discipline and focus.
“Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game’s two ultimate adversaries: the course and yourself.” Jack Nicklaus
“Luck has nothing to do with it, because I have spent many, many hours, countless hours, on the court working for my one moment in time, not knowing when it would come.” Serena Williams
“One important key to success is self-confidence. An important key to self-confidence is preparation.”Arthur Ashe
It means that a person keeps going rather than quitting.
“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Michael Jordan
“Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you.” Arnold Palmer
“Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” Lance Armstrong
It means believing in yourself and being willing to risk to win, to have what you want in life.
“You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them.” Michael Jordan
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Wayne Gretzky
“I know where I’m going and I know the truth, and I don’t have to be what you want me to be. I’m free to be what I want.” Muhammad Ali
To succeed, you must take responsibility for your actions and the outcomes.
“A competitor will find a way to win. Competitors take bad breaks and use them to drive themselves just that much harder. Quitters take bad breaks and use them as reasons to give up. It’s all a matter of pride.”Nancy Lopez
“If I were to say, “God, why me?” about the bad things, then I should have said, “God, why me” about the good things that happened in my life.”Arthur Ashe
“Don’t let the fear of striking out hold you back.” Babe Ruth
Putting it together, George Sheehan relates sport to life.
“Sport is where an entire life can be compressed into a few hours, where the emotions of a lifetime can be felt on an acre or two of ground, where a person can suffer and die and rise again on six miles of trails through a New York City park. Sport is a theater where sinner can turn saint and a common man become an uncommon hero, where the past and the future can fuse with the present. Sport is singularly able to give us peak experiences where we feel completely one with the world and transcend all conflicts as we finally become our own potential.”
Billy Jean King, relates sports to life in a different manner.
“Sport teaches you character, it teaches you to play by the rules, it teaches you to know what is feels like to win and lose—it teaches you about life.”
In closing, I would like to share with you quotes from two tremendous competitors who made a difference. Their quotes resonate with me; may they do the same for you.
“No one changes the world who isn’t obsessed.” Billy Jean King
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.: Muhammad Ali
Do you see how sport mirrors life? And dance as well?
©Scott LewisMy gift doesn’t come from a store;
It grows from seeds planted long before.
My gift won’t keep you occupied for days on end,
But it may stay with you forever.
My gift cannot be re-gifted or upcycled,
But I give it over and over again.
My gift can’t be used to pay for your meal,
But it just might nourish your mind or soul.
My gift cannot be returned,
But it is how I give back. My gift is my dance,
and my dance is my gift. Via nichelledances: A @swilliamlewis & @danceadvantage collaboration.