Ballet also teaches you an incredible obsession with detail. You study the curve of your hand, the precise state of the pointe shoe, the exact calories required to get through a performance, the list is endless. As a result, I am entirely comfortable diving deep into data, numbers, or the specific craft point in an execution. There is no detail too trivial to take seriously.
The power in emotional availability
I was lucky enough to do a class with the inimitable Sylvie Guillem at the time she was an Etoile at the Paris Opera Ballet. Whilst she was technically astonishing, it was her ability to feel the role that made her truly great.
That emotional availability was what defined my career as a dancer to a large extent. I was never technically perfect, but I was utterly devoted to the narrative emotionally. You have to be able to look your dance partner in the eye, and the audience feels its truth. Admittedly, I tend not to look at my MD with love in the eyes, and I'm a long way off being a "tea and sympathy" operator but I believe in the power of emotional availability. I want my team and clients to feel that I am there for them.
Ultimately that plays out in the kind of creative work I do now in advertising. No matter what magical technology, service or campaign we are planning, it has to be connected to humanity. It needs to contain truth and passion, it's this that will set you apart from the self-serving, glutinous behaviours of alpha business types.
Even though I can no longer do fouéttes, ballet has been my competitive advantage in business and if I had to pass on one life lesson from it, it would be this from dancer and choreographer, Jacques d'Amboise:
"Just remember when you're not practising that someone somewhere is. And when you meet them, they will win."
Leigh Thomas is the CEO of Dare