HOW SHALL WE DANCE?
I went to a punk rock concert to see my nephew Alan Day, who is a lead singer, guitar player and primary song writer for his band, Four Year Strong. Alan’s band travels the world to give concerts and has at least 5 CD’s/albums and their own labeled section at many music stores. Punk or hard rock is definitely is not my favorite kind of music. I went to support my nephew and to spend an evening with my sister, his mother. It was so much fun seeing my nephew in his element, with the crowd going crazy and most of them knowing all the lyrics to their songs.
While at the concert, I wanted to get a few close up pictures of my nephew on the stage. In order to do so, I had to make my way through a mosh pit of “dancers” that were between most of the audience and the stage.
It is hard for me to take seriously mosh pit movement as “dance” but I understand for those “moshing” it is. It certainly is an outpouring of their emotions, in the way Gabrielle Roth’s Five Rhythms or Tango might be for me.
I remember that the weeks after the concert, while listening to clients’ stories of their work and/or personal lives, their descriptions sometimes reminded me of the mosh pit. Clients were describing the multiple demands and expectations from the outside world as well as the demands they were placing on themselves. There was talk of the chaos of multiple and high-pressure business demands, employee and management issues to confront and resolve, sales deadlines and expectations, time management concerns, family obligations, the endless stream of e-mails to read and respond to, as well as personal needs. All were seemingly crashing into them from all directions, like in a mosh pit.
Mosh pits are hard to navigate. Take it from me, a one-time survivor! The mosh pits of life are less easily seen and, therefore, harder to avoid. But, they are there. We can be, if we are not careful, slammed by the elbow of others’ expectations, knocked off balance by others charging at us with their demands and deadlines, buried by an avalanche of e-mails, etc. We need tools to navigate the mosh pits of life.
We know we cannot control our or others’ outside worlds. No matter how how we try, there will always be some form of chaos around us. It is a given, like the air we breathe. The only thing we can do for ourselves and with our clients is to ascertain how we and they can self-manage in the midst of chaos. In essence, we need to decide how we are going to dance through the chaos.
Here is a strategy to examine the mosh pit of your life and to shift the dance, as needed:
(1) Awareness is key. Get a clear bird’s eye view of everything on the mosh pit dance floor of your life. What is coming at you (the demands/expectations/priorities)? With respect to each thing you are aware of, identify what is of your making and what is of others’ making. Then, get clear about the kind of “dance floor" you want to have (what would you like your professional and/or personal life to look like); what is the dance YOU want to be doing (how do you want to be on the dance floor of your life)? Answering these last two questions will help you decide what actions to take about the various things on your dance floor (including yourself).
(2) Once you know what is on the floor and you are clear about what you want and who you want to be (or who you are), you can start to look at what is absolutely necessary to stay on your dance floor. What do you have control over; what don’t you have control over? Is anything you have control over easily resolvable (by either you or someone else), to remove it from the crowded floor? If there is, this will help you to make a plan to thin your mosh pit…..by either attending to them personally or finding others to do it for you. Of the things not in your control, explore ways to either (A) look at them differently (shift in perspective) to take the mosh pit energy out of them and/or (B) come up with creative solutions that better suit you and approach those in control to attempt to change the conditions of how the issues appear on the floor or what is expected of you. These shifts might actually change the mosh pit to a more manageable and pleasant dance floor.
(3) Another early decision to be made is the question of how to proceed. Approaching the mosh pit of our lives in the ways that will work best for us will make the endeavor not only more tolerable (perhaps even enjoyable) but more successful. Attempting to do it a certain way because it is what others’ would do is a set-up for failure; it is adding to your mosh pit experience of life!
Identifying goals and priorities will be key to determine what needs to happen and when, as well as help inform the necessary steps to get there. Personality and style will help sort out how to interact with the issues on your dance floor. What is the outcome you hope to achieve and how is it best for you to get there? What are the dance steps, if you will, that will give you the end product that you are both happy with and that leaves the fewest casualties on the dance floors of our lives?
Mosh pits can be scary. But, since we are the principal dancer in the mosh pits of our lives, we can only decide how we will dance and which mosh pits to stay in and for how long. Most times, we can shift our consciousness/perspective and/or our approach and the entire dance floor changes.
For example, when I entered the very active Four Year Strong mosh pit, with bodies and limbs flying everywhere unpredictably, I had no intention of “dancing” with others on the floor. I had a mission; to get to the front of the stage to take my pictures. When I approached the floor, I honestly did not know how I would make my way through. But, I had my mission and a strong determination to be neither a mosh dancer nor casualty. I wove through the bodies, assessing my surroundings and anticipating safe opening. Many people on the floor made way for me; respected my unspoken but evident choice not to dance. My presence (how I showed up) coupled with my intention (which was communicated without words) gave others pause to shift their behavior while I was intentional and calm walking through. Some of the seemingly violent dancers protected me from others who were either not paying attention or going to crash into anyone in their way. I created a mosh pit experience that suited me and my goal; weaving safely through the chaos without taking any of it on, without judging it or needing it to be any different, and confidently moving in the direction of my destination.
When you are feeling overwhelmed, perhaps it is time to take a look at and take on the mosh pit of your life. Be daring. Choose your dance, set your intentions and command your dance space! And, having a coach to facilitate this process can be the key to sustainable success!!