I’ve spent a lot of time avoiding ‘failure’. As a child with musical and movement facility, I had much to live up to.
I often had stomach aches as I attended dance conferences with my ballet teacher and my mother. I was primed to be the best dancer in my age group, and believed that it was my job to confirm this.
From the beginning, my talent was part of my family’s pride, and while that sounds positive, for a child the perceived responsibility is overwhelming.
My Mom was a piano teacher and MY piano teacher. Each Spring, she would enter me in a piano audition where I would have to play from 4-6 pieces by heart in front of a judge who would grade my performance, producing a report card. Out of all her students, I received the highest grades and the most praise. I was thrilled afterwards because my nausea miraculously went away and well, it was over until next year, UGH!
The thing about behavioral molding is that it sticks and becomes part of one’s psychological imprint. So every event can be charged with the conditioning of past behavior.
As an adult, the job of fulfilling everyone else’s expectations and dreams was over, but the memory of the demands of a challenge that may not be met was still fresh. As an antidote, I never wanted to go down a path that strayed too far from safety. And I never fell flat on my face.
Often, I longed to do just that, but oh no, that just was not possible because I habitually managed very well the levels of demand so that I knew I would succeed.
Things shifted for me when I heard about FM Alexander’s 9 year process of trial and error, mostly his failure to discover the means to stop his habit of compressing his neck before speaking.
But his years of failures eventually netted him success through his recognition of the power of pausing before action. I was inspired by his courage and trained for 3 years and paused a lot and put myself in a state of unknowing, often not to my liking, as immediate ‘success’ was not certain until I ‘failed’.
It is without question that FM was personally and singularly motivated to solve his vocal problem and failure was indeed an option if not a requirement for success. I benefit every day from his persistence and courage in the face of such failure, and am happy to say that my students do too!
Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.
Happy Dancing! How do you see failure in the scheme of things? If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.
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