Have you ever had a dance where everything was lead off time? How about a dance where the lead was so rough that you were certain you’d lose an arm? Have you ever danced with someone who never made eye contact, never smiled, or worse, looked at everyone else but you?
When we have dances like this, we tend to think of that lead as a bad lead. The most common criteria that throws a lead into this category include:
- leading off time
- being excessively strong or rough
- not accommodating the level of the follower
- throwing the follower into other couples
- being self-absorbed
- not making eye contact or connection
- having a constant RBF (resting bitch face)
Lack of Ability & Lack of Awareness
All of the above reasons occur throughout the dance journey for any and all leaders. They are often a result of a lack of ability or a lack of awareness.
As leads, we all start with the basics. It’s natural for us to not master everything all at once, if at all. As we progress in our dance life, we constantly enter and leave stages where we are beginners. This happens even more often if you’re constantly learning something new. The process of not knowing, trying, making mistakes, learning and trying again is present in every aspect of life. As a result of this process in dance, we might find ourselves off time, so deep in our own thoughts that we don’t connect with our partners or we end up unaware of the world around us and bump into everyone.
Lack of ability and awareness also pertains to what we’re comfortable expressing. Cultures, society, friends, family, upbringing, etc all have an impact on what we think we’re allowed to express and how we finally express it. Sometimes, we spend years not even being aware that there are other acceptable ways of doing things. It often requires a constant exposure to a new method to finally accept it and use it in our interactions.
If we are truly trying to be better than we were yesterday, then a lack of ability will exist in some fashion or another throughout our journeys. How does this pertain to being a bad lead? Basically, we’re all going to be bad leads at some point or another.
Caring to be Better
Care to grow
Care to improve
- Care to adapt and adjust
Care to admit we might not know something
Care to try and express ourselves
Care to communicate our feelings in a way that our partner understands
Care about our partner’s enjoyment
Care about our partner’s comfort
Care about our partner’s safety
Care about the people around us
Once and Forever
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “once a _____, always a _____.” In this case, the simple act of genuinely caring about your impact can change that.
Essentially, once a bad lead, does not have to mean always a bad lead.
But, the only way that’s possible is if, as leaders, we can:
- step out of our own heads
- suppress our egos
- humble ourselves
- accept that there are other ways of doing things
- care about connecting with and taking care of our of our partners
With that last part alone, you’d be surprised how much and how quickly you can improve, how much more fun you can have, and how much your follows will love and appreciate every dance with you.
Connection is a 2-Way Street
We put a lot of responsibility on the leaders for the direction of the dance. But followers, you know based on my philosophy, that our role is never a passive one. Sure, we can go through a dance that’s rough, off time, disconnected and then complain about it later. Or we can play an active role and contribute in some way. Now, we can’t necessarily improve our partner’s technique, moves or timing within a dance. But as connection is a two-way street, we can always try to connect with our partners even when it’s clear that’s not their priority.
The simplest way to do this:
- laugh a little
- be patient
- if you need an adjustment, communicate it with kindness
- did I mention smile? – It’s amazing what this simple act can accomplish. ?
A good lead is not just about your technical prowess but also how you connect and respect your partner. All of these things can be improved upon by simply having a genuine interest in doing so.