How To Succeed at Work Using Lessons From Ballet

Watching ballet is one of the most wonderful and captivating experiences. Everything is beautiful and perfect. But to reach this extraordinary perfection, you need a great deal of creative intelligence, effort and teamwork.

Ballet is a microcosm of successful approaches to work, which we can all learn and benefit from. So here they are:


1. Listen intently.

Ballet dancers synchronize every move and gesture to the rhythm of the music and match every emotion to the choreographer’s instruction. To do otherwise would result in failure.

Nowadays, where technology absorbs most of our attention, we have started to lose our will to simply listen to others’ concepts and expert guidance. Listening and being truly present to what people are saying are still the best ways for learning new skills and absorbing valuable ideas at work. Also you show your colleagues that you respect them, which nourishes a productive and cooperative environment.

So, lean in, make eye contact, speak less and listen conscientiously.


2. Take many steps.

Trying to reduce the number of steps in the dances top ballet dancers perform or believing they can cut back on the practice and rehearsal sessions and still manage to excel on stage is simply not going to work. 

There are no shortcuts to achieving excellence. Keeping your footing while spinning and performing gravity-defying ballet acts requires sustained focus, practice and perseverance. So does developing and executing elegant, simple and helpful solutions in other fields.


3. Collaborate face-to-face.

Ballet dancers always communicate though direct contact, but that kind of partnership and collaboration is becoming rare in many other occupations.

Advanced technology allows us to communicate and connect with anyone anywhere, but teleconferencing, instant messaging, emailing and texting often reduces the effectiveness of teamwork and distracts us from focusing on a bigger picture.

It is important to meet colleagues in person and on Skype on a more regular basis than many people nowadays do. Nothing beats face-to face contact and interaction when it comes to brainstorming, resolving problems and building both team spirit and a sense that ownership of one's work matters.



4. Smile through it.

Ballet dancers perform incredibly difficult maneuvers with total grace and a smile on their faces. A display of suffering wouldn't help captivating their audience.

This applies to any kind of work situation: 

Sure there may be a lot to moan about at your job, but whining will not improve things. No one but the already miserable (who, as we know, prefer like-minded company) wants to be around a complainer. So make the decision to be happy and to develop a more grateful attitude. Then analyze your own performance and do everything you can to improve it.


5. Show some leg.

Ballet costumes highlight the magnificent muscular bodies of the dancers while also revealing their emotional core.

In the workplace, it’s vital to reveal and tap into your humanity. Expert skills and an excellent work ethic are important, but what takes you further is revealing your human side. Avoid arrogance and defensiveness, own up to your mistakes, display warmth and empathy for your colleagues, solicit their ideas and be open to learning from them.


6. Lend a hand, take an outstretched one.

Ballet dancers lift, lean on and support one another. That makes them terrific role models for what we need to emphasize in our own work environments. We should cheer one another on, provide constructive feedback, collaborate and mentor one another with the objective of enabling everyone to reach their potential. We should also be willing to ask for help when we need it.


7. Stay active, keep moving.

The ballet stage is filled with action and the dancers never stop practicing to perfect their moves. You need to own your body to own your mind. Energize yourself and your environment by prioritizing fitness. Sit less — prolonged periods of sitting steal our health. Keep learning new skills. And take initiative to move yourself and your work forward. Sustaining motivation is in large part a matter of visualizing your goals and breaking them down into smaller steps.


See you in our classes!