I read an article by Forbes today on 17 counterintuitive things that the most successful people do. One of the 17 was “Get C’s instead of A’s,” and spoke about the strange occurrence that entrepreneurs and employers were often the C students, while employees happened to be A students.
Now, I don’t know if this is always true…but there are certainly instances (Steve Jobs, cough cough) where people who are true innovators make huge leaps and steps in cultural progression because they aren’t afraid to go against the grain and INNOVATE. ”A” students might not be that type.
And then I went to yoga class, and we did dancer’s pose. You know the one: You grab one foot (say the right) with your right hand, then standing on your opposite foot you stretch your leg behind you (while still holding on) while simultaneously stretching your left arm/hand out in front of you. It’s a balance posture but also meant to stretch your back, shoulders and hamstrings. During this posture, I thought: Perhaps it’s not being a “C” student as much as it’s about finding balance. Maybe “A” students care too much about grades and not enough about digging in the dirt.
“Finding one’s dancer” in yoga is an idea about developing enough balance and trust in your body, to create a beautiful pose. You must first develop a solid grounding (feet placed steadily on earth, toes wide, “grounding in the four corners of your feet”). Then you can begin to build your dancer. The dancer is not successful without an equal pull in oposite directions from both your leg and your upper body, at the same time. The further one stretches in each direction the more balanced and complete the dancer becomes.
In business, in life, and as an entrepreneur this has obvious overlap. One must first develop foundation and grounding. Choose a place to live that you are happy in. Surround yourself with people that support your success and well being. Get a job, or start a business, on ideals and practices that feel good ethically and intellectually.
Then you can build your dancer. As, my yoga teachers always say, “The dancer starts with the kick!” A counterintuitive kinetic motion sometimes, because it feels better to start with the reach of the hand. But it is in fact the “kick” that drives the posture. And perhaps it’s the “kick” that drives your business. Your motivation. Your ability to make an impact, splash, cause attention, reach customers, develop marketing and an overall energy towards the project. The “kick” is the motion — and the muscle — that keeps the dancer upright.
But as mentioned, the opposite pull is equally important in the overall success of the dancer. And it must be applied at the same time.
On the mat, you must kick and equally reach out with the opposite hand. It creates a bend in your back as both limbs, your kicked foot and your outstretched hand, reach so far that they begin to bend back towards each other in a circle. In my yoga classes, this is when the balance often gets lost; when people get wobbly. It’s in part because it’s hard to think about doing both things at the same time. It’s hard to think about your foot and hand at the same time even while sitting! Let alone while perched on one foot.
In life, this is the pull in the “oppositie” direction of your business. It’s finding a passion that counteracts your passion for the business. For me, it’s yoga and rock climbing. On days where the business is glorious and fabulous, rock climbing and yoga seem like the “cherry on top.” But for days when things get rough, where touch decision have to be made, where sales didn’t go as forecasted….those are the balance tools that keep the dancer afloat. Keep her supported, upright, beautiful.
In Boulder, Colorado, a hub for entrepreneurs and outdoor activists, I think a lot of people understand cultivating one’s “inner dancer.” But too often I see people get sucked down a path that is not meant for long-term balance and happiness. It may be getting the first step of grounding wrong (by moving to a city that doesn’t jibe) or it may be either kicking or pulling too hard in one direction (throwing oneself too far into the business, or saying eff you! to life and career).
And so, even as a young buck in the overall scheme of life, I urge you take time to discover your inner dancer. She is beautiful, supportive, grounded and successful.