I hope this episode reminds you of the brilliance of children… and gets you more in touch with your brilliant inner child! I have started to look at young people as little Baby Yodas. Full of potential, wisdom and plenty of life hacks up for grabs! In this episode I focus on the willingness to play (and walk into every game like a winner), the bounce back (after our losses), and the importance of asking questions… especially the BIG questions. ENJOY!
Intro: This is words that move me, the podcast where movers and shakers, like you get the information and inspiration. You need to navigate your creative career with clarity and confidence. I am your host master mover, Dana Wilson. And if you’re someone that loves to learn, laugh and is looking to rewrite the starving artist story, then sit tight, but don’t stop moving because you’re in the right place. Hello.
Dana: Hello, my friend. And welcome to the podcast. I’m Dana, this is Words That Move Me. I’m so glad that you’re here today to talk about three heartwarming life lessons that I just learned from seven to 10 year olds. Um, so let’s get right into it. I think this is a really, um, a really lovely topic and a nice moment to take pause and look back at our young selves, um, and also head forward with some new perspectives. Um, now before I get into it, I do want to do wins and my win this week. We’ll give a bit more context to this episode this week. I am celebrating that. I just, I mean, just like a few days ago taught at my first in-person dance convention in 14 months. Wow. That is a long stretch for me. Um, I’ve been teaching on a dance convention at New York city Dance Alliance. Uh, super shout out to my episode that I did with Joe Lanteri, which is episode number drum roll 43 episode 43. That is our winner. Um, so I, I teach for this dance convention, New York city Dance Alliance, and, uh, the due to the pandemic. Um, the convention was completely canceled for, uh, most of 2020. They slowly trickled back at the, uh, a few months ago. Um, and it is now April and I’m finally comfortable, you know, traveling and being in rooms full of lots of heavily breathing humans and man, Oh man, what an experience I’m not going to lie a little bit of shell shock. Um, I went from, you know, pretty much myself and my husband in our house, occasional distanced hangs with the homies to pretty crowded rooms and dancers doing a really great job, staying in their little taped off squares, dancing and masks teaching in masks. Holy smokes. Um, so wow. I did it. I felt safe. That is a tremendously huge win. Um, Oh, I will say traveling the actual airplane portion, not my favorite. Uh, I forgot. Oh, and LAX also. Definitely not my favorite. I was very much okay with not visiting lax 30 times a year. Um, yeah, that drive that number dropped down dramatically in the pandemic, uh, to zero. So anyways, that’s my win at first convention back out and feeling great about it. Thank you, Joe and NYCDA for keeping a really safe environment for us faculty and the students alike. Um, thrilled about that and excited to share with you guys. Some of the things that happened over the weekend. Um, always a good story to be told first, let me hear your wins. What is going well in your way?
Okay. Congratulations. Very well done and do, keep doing all of that very well done stuff. Um, all right. Let’s jump into it. Shall we? Three heartwarming life lessons brought to you by seven to 10 year olds AKA my mini ballroom from this past weekend in Greenville, North Carolina. My aim for this episode really is to remind you of the brilliance of children. If you’re looking for inspiration, look no further than the mini ballroom. Um, so my goal is to remind you of that and to perhaps get you more in touch with your brilliant, younger self. I really do believe the kids have it all figured out as challenging is that age group can be, especially in a dance education environment. Um, my favorite moments came out of that mini ballroom this past weekend in Greenville, North Carolina. So shout out minis. If you’re listening, I had such a ball with you. Um, and for all of my adult humans that are listening, I want you to remind you that these people minis, uh, the convention world affectionately refers to them as minis. They’re seven to 10 years old, which places their birth year between 2011 and 2014. So for context, some of these people are younger than Game of Thrones. Um, so here’s what I think in these three different areas. We have a lot to learn from seven to 10 year olds. Number one, self confidence, totally off the charts. Number two, the asking of questions now. Sure. That can get a little out of hand from time to time. But for the most part, this is an admirable quality and part three, the bounce back or the bounce in general. So we’re going to dig a little bit deeper into those three areas of expertise of, of this particular age group. I’m so stoked about it. Here we go.
I want to start with this illustration of confidence and enthusiasm. Certainly something that we could all learn from a 7 to 10 year old. Um, I’ll start with this story. I’ve been putting a more pointed focus on history when I teach even to the young ones and, um, basically to start every class, to see where the group is at in their understanding or exposure to history, um, making it a habit to kind of check the temperature in the room. Before I start my lesson this week, I was teaching what I call jazz plus, which we could do an entire side episode on jazz plus by the way, and I probably will someday, but for now I will say this jazz plus is my dance history, mostly jazz plus a whole lot of other stuff. And that is exactly what you can expect to find when you take my class. Um, but most of the 7 to 10 year olds, uh, in my class over the weekend had never seen jazz plus on a schedule. So before I addressed what jazz plus is, I decided to ask the students for a show of hands and fingers, um, to show me if they could explain jazz, like a one finger up, it means I’m sort of, kind of not really. And five fingers up means. Yeah, totally. Uh, so I said to the room, all right, um, show of fingers, everyone. How confident are you in explaining jazz on a one to five? Hands started flying up and overwhelmingly. They were displaying in many cases more than five fingers, like were tagging both arms shooting up five fingers on each hand, 10 out of 5 confidence here. Now their enthusiasm did start to dwindle a little bit. Once I started asking them for their answer, what is jazz, but for those who did answer the question for those who kept their enthusiastic fingers up, I was shocked actually to hear some very broad and not so technical, but kind of true answers. Like for example, jazz is energy. Jazz is energy or jazz is fun. Or my personal favorite jazz is kind of everything put together. Like everything put together. These are exact words. ‘Jazz is kind of everything put together,’ which really that’s that’s, that’s not true. Jazz is not ballet and braking and ballroom and a grilled cheese sandwich put together. But when you consider that jazz dance and jazz music spring from roots of rituals and celebrations of black people from way, way, way back as early as the 17 hundreds, then yeah, I can absolutely see how you might find elements of jazz in many, many other styles and in many, many other things, but I digress that is not what we’re here to talk about today for now. Let’s simply Marvel at the fact that although these young people have very little experience as humans, like only 7 years of experience as humans when asked for their level of confidence at something these littles jumped straight to a 10 out of 5, like they weren’t thinking, I don’t know, or I have no experience. They were thinking, yeah, sure. Why not? Let’s engage with this. Let’s yeah, let’s jump in. Yeah, I could, I could probably know the answer to this or I could probably be good at this thing or yeah, I bet I could be really, really, really good at this thing. That’s where the mindset of the mini is at. And I was very interested to find that when I asked the same question to my teens and seniors who are between 13 and, and 17 or 18, I barely saw a single hand with five fingers raised, I saw mostly ones and twos. So, but you, I mean, could you explain to a friend, what jazz is, how confident would you be to have that connection? One out of five? What is jazz? Right? It’s it’s, it’s not an easy or simple question to answer, but what this exercise really illustrated to me other than the general lack of understanding of jazz and jazz history in a convention setting is that a lot happens between seven and 17 years and beyond. Um, we, we really lose that 10 out of 5 confidence and enthusiasm, and I can only speculate at how we lost it or why we lost it, but I can think of a few ways that we might get some of that, the good parts of that anyways, but I can think of a few ways that we might get some of that back regarding the confidence specifically.
One, one could argue that kids have more confidence because they don’t yet know complete humiliation. Right. They haven’t experienced being broken up with or cut from an audition or fired from a job job. Their experience is that they learn and they play and sometimes they get in trouble and that’s life and that’s okay. So what if we could think more like that? What if, what if we could think yes. I’m game, even if I lose playing is fun, let’s go. No, I’m not suggesting that you risk it all or pretend to know things that you don’t know. This lesson in confidence and enthusiasm is actually, we all about willingness to play, just willingness to play and the willingness to go into the game, like a winner before you’ve already, even started, versus walking into the game like a beginner who’s never or tried anything ever, right? It’s likely that even if you’re playing a game for the very first time, you have some other skills or training or experience that will give you some foundation to stand on. Maybe not a competitive edge per se, but by the time you’re 18 years old, you’ve got to experience some rudimentary exposure to a lot of things. So let’s, let’s lead with that. Shall we? The willingness to play and to walk into the game like a winner. Now that’s actually a good segue.
Let’s skip ahead to, um, lesson number three, the bounce back. Kids don’t just jump into a game like a winner with 10 out of 5 confidence. They bounce back fast. Even if they get completely leveled by the game. Even if they find out that they have zero confidence in the thing, that moment usually quickly resolves with something else. That’s interesting. Yeah. So, um, you actually, you made, we’ve seen this more in babies and toddlers than in 7 to 10 year olds, but it’s this really remarkable, quick shift, um, on the emotional spectrum, uh, extreme discontent moments, moments away from like total satisfaction, these quick recoveries like crying, crying, crying, and then we’re moving on. Like we’re literally skipping on and I love this. I aspire to the bounce back like this. Um, I aspire to let go of drama that quickly, man. I have so much to learn. Uh, now I know that that, uh, this anomaly is not because young ones don’t feel as much. Actually they, I think they feel tremendously even loss or a rejection or failure. I believe they really do feel those things and they feel it fully. And then they move on instead of the adult way of handling it, which looks more like ignoring it or resisting it or denying it or reacting to it with an alcoholic beverage or a shopping spree or a scroll down Instagram lane. So what if we get, allow ourself to lose just, okay, I lost that round, right? Or what if you could allow yourself the bummer of not knowing the answer to something or of getting the answer wrong or of not getting the gig and then literally skip along on your way to the next game or question or gig like actually bounce, truly hop. Now, this is where your homework comes in before the next episode comes out. I do challenge you to actually skip somewhere and tell me that you don’t have an absolute ball when you get there. Skipping is so powerful, like fully be sad and then be hopping up and down and tell me that you don’t giggle. Honestly, I think laughter and tears are very closely linked. I call it the laugh cry, happens to me all the time. Um, but yes, knees permitting, bounce back, try it, just try it.
Okay. And that brings me to our final lesson, a very admirable quality of the 7 to 10 age range. And that is the asking of questions. Oh man. In my mini classes this weekend, so many questions, I’m sure some of them were, can I go to the bathroom? Even after I said, you do not need to ask permission to go to the bathroom. I still got that question like four or five times, man. I really could have taken questions top to bottom the whole class without ever teaching a single step full of questions. Um, but I did want to share my favorite question with you here. Uh, today I’m in the middle of teaching combo and I see a hand raised into the air. Adorable young person raised their hand and, and approached the stage. Even though she’s supposed to stay in her little taped in box. And she says, “what do you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t know that thing” like arrow through my heart. What do you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t, this was a full stop moment for me. I asked everyone in the room to sit down because we were going to engage in this discussion. So I asked, all right, what might you do when someone says that you should know something and you don’t know that thing, you might feel bad. You might feel sad. You might get angry at them and walk away. Yes. All valid. We discussed these options, but none of those options get you the answers. So I asked, okay, what else, what else could you do? When someone tells you, you should know something and you don’t know it. We as a room collectively decided that you could get really curious. You could wonder why they think that you should know that thing you might wonder who might know that thing. And who would be willing to tell you, you might wonder, well, geez, I’ve made it this far. So maybe I shouldn’t know it. Why is it really that important? You might also wonder what else should I know, what else do I not know? So we discussed all of the different ways. You could respond to someone saying that you should know something. And we decided that getting curious was the best thing to do. Not. So surprisingly after we had this discussion, I got another great question from the same dancer, she was my gem. She asked, “what do you do when this part is hard?” And she demonstrated the parts, me, what do you do when this part is hard? And man, I just love this question so much. And I wanted to ask you for your answer to that question. What do you do when this part is hard? Like, what do you do when anything is hard? What do you do? When it gets hard? I either stop or keep going. Those are my two options. When I keep going, it usually gets less hard. And when I stop, it stays hard to me, but I’m not doing it. So it doesn’t matter. So in both cases, things are less hard. But if you’re a person who enjoys being able to do hard things, I strongly recommend you keep going. And that’s what I asked my little mini in this moment. I said, do you like being able to do hard things? And she said, yeah. And I said, then keep doing it. Even if it’s hard. And I thought that was a marvelous adult moment as well, a healthy adult reminder. So as, as adults, as grownups, I’m assuming listening to this episode also. Hi, again, minis. I love you. I had so much fun and I loved talking to you. I’m learning so much from you. Um, but to all of my more grown types listening, have you stopped asking questions? Like, do you ask questions in your head and not say them out loud deliberately? Do you sensor your questions? If so, why do you think that, you know everything like do you generally genuinely not have questions because you think, you know, everything, which trust me, I met a few of you in Greenville as well, teens and seniors who think they know it all I’m talking to you. They’re probably not listening. That’s okay. Um, but are you, are you genuinely not asking because you feel like, you know, things or are you afraid of looking dumb or inexperienced? That is probably likely the case. Well, interestingly you learn when you ask questions. So if not dumb is the goal, then not asking questions is not how you get there. I think that was a triple negative that I just said. So here’s the question. If a double negative is the same as a positive then is a triple negative. The same as the single negative? Negative. I’m I just confused myself. Okay. Enough. I would like to suggest to you that you don’t ask questions for no reason. Don’t ask questions just because Dana said that minis asked questions and you should do that too. No, I’m suggesting that you ask questions when you have them and that your questions reveal how much, you know, instead of how much you don’t know, super shout out to Episode 28, how to ask good questions. If you have not given that a listen, strongly recommend you do that. Um, all right, so, wow. Let’s wrap it up. Three takeaways for my seven to 10 year old students who schooled me this weekend. Number one, be willing to play and walk into the game, like a winner. Number two, bounce back and walk out of the game a winner, even if you just lost. And number three, ask more questions, ask questions that reveal how much, you know, not how much you don’t know. And no, you no longer need to ask permission to use the restroom. Please just handle it now.
Now before you go, I want to draw one really interesting parallel or at least it’s interesting to me. And it might be interesting to you this right now is a huge blinking neon sign to me in my life because I’m reaching peak interest in my clown training. Yes. Uh, but what I’m noticing is that much like children clowns wear their hearts on their sleeve, like right there, their feelings, their observations about the world, their willingness to play on their sleeve. And perhaps it’s this, you know, childish newness that gets clowns and comedians alike into the hearts of an audience member, right? Perhaps this is actually why children and clowns and comedians can get away with all sorts of stuff and still be loved. Perhaps this is why comedians are among the most important artists in my eyes. So if in the heart of audiences is where you would like to be. Then these lessons from children are what might get you there also take clown class, huge, huge, so important. Okay. My friends, that is what I have for you today. Take it from the children, take it from the clowns and take it from me. Thank you so much for listening. Everybody get out there into the world with that childlike confidence, enthusiasm, that willingness to play, the ability to bounce back and the where with all to ask questions. And of course keep it funky while you do it. I will talk to you next week.
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All right, that’s it now for real talk to you soon. Bye.