Why dancing lessons might improve your performance at work

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The other day I was in the wine store trying to decide whether I was looking for a bottle of inspiration, relaxation, or something to go with chicken.  As I stood there contemplating my choices I realized that they were playing really good big band swing music.  You know the kind that leaves you physically incapable of not tapping your toes to the beat?

And so there I was, only half reading the labels because the other half of me was listening to the music and imaging myself dancing. I love swing music. I mean, I like music in general, but there is something about swing music that just makes me smile and wish that a younger Jon Favreau would ask me to dance.

I like to think that I have a have a decent sense of rhythm and I have no problem picking up the beat to a song and (some might say annoyingly) tap my feet, fingers, whatever in time to the song.

I digress.

Back to the store. I’m tapping away, feeling like I am in time with the music and getting closer to choosing my poison, when out of the corner of my eye I see someone standing further down the aisle.

I glanced over to see an older woman doing the same thing I was – yes, oddly enough she too was looking to buy wine in a wine store. Of course, I meant aside from that, she was also tapping her foot in time to the music, but what made me actually look at her was that not only was she tapping her foot, but she had a whole other rhythm going…she was subtlety bouncing up and down to a whole other beat AND tapping her foot to another.

If a dancing partner had appeared in that aisle – it wasn’t me he would be asking to join him!

So where could I possibly be heading with this?

I’m often asked by employees about what the difference between “meets expectations” (formerly known as “average”) and “exceeds expectations” (formerly know as “kicked ass”) when it comes to their performance.

The difference is not about putting in 60 hours versus the required 37.5 hours per week.  It’s not even about handing in a 15-page report, instead of the required 5 pages.  And I assure you that it’s not about laughing along with the Executive’s jokes when all you want to do is cringe.

If you go to work and do your job and do it well – that’s good.  If you provide exactly what is expected from you and you deliver consistent, quality work. Then you are meeting expectations because that’s exactly what you were hired to do.

However, if you do all that and you offer more in terms of information, analysis, recommendation and, above all, value. You find and offer something that others are missing, well then you are exceeding expectations.

You see, we are all hired to tap our toes to that main beat – it’s those that hear and understand the other rhythms that get more out of and more for the experience.


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