Grace Kraaijvanger, owner of an award-winning co-working space for women in Mill Valley, California, strives to find balance in her schedule in a recent article on the lessons she has learned from dancing that can help balance the busiest areas of life:
Do that one thing. In dance, balance is about grounding the energy of the ball of the foot down into the floor, pulling up in the hip, connecting the lowest abdominal muscle to the spine, pulling up through the stomach, letting the ribs fall down, sternum up, chin up, shoulders down, arms elongated, fingers relaxed—and, of course, breathing. How do you achieve balance in your own life? Be still. Focus on this moment. Do that one thing. Check in with your whole body. Breathe, relax, lift up, higher, higher, elevate, and then put your foot down, and try it again. This time from the other side. To everyone else, it will look like dancing.
Practice your falls. Ask any professional dancer if they've fallen on stage, and they'll quickly say yes. Most of our biggest successes can come on the heels of what felt like a failure. We have to stretch our boundaries in order to improve and grow; with stretching comes falls. Part of this practice is not beating yourself up over a fall. The key is to accept, take care of yourself, and keep moving forward. Shame and embarrassment are spirit squashers. Just keep dancing.
Put that smart phone away. It’s so hard for us to disconnect—we have people who need us. But can you imagine dancers holding phones mid-plié? Snapping selfies, checking Instagram, reading an email and dancing? Embody the mind of a dancer whenever you can, and think “Can this wait until the song is done?” Disconnecting from our phones is where big things—good things—can happen. Try committing to taking 10 minutes every morning with coffee or tea and a lit candle—phone-free—to simply sit. It's where the best ideas come from, and could be the perfect start to your day.
Listen to the music. So often it seems like the best way to manage and get through all of life's responsibilities is with control. We’d love to control the outcome, the results, and of course how we feel. But sometimes it's best simply to move WITH the music, versus trying to impose our own beat. Trying to control the cadence or the way others are dancing is a recipe for disaster—be it your children, employees, whomever. Try to first listen and then move to the voice of your teams, whether personally or professionally, so you can put yourself in their shoes and flow toward a solution, or move together toward the next big idea.