I joined Reba J and the Chinook Country Line Dancers last September. Each week we meet for a one hour lesson. Apart from that, some members choose to be a part of the performing group; others choose to be part of the classes only. Equal love and attention is given to every member of these groups!
When I decided to join this dance group ten months ago, I was anticipating meeting some new people and learning some new dances. That’s it. Never did I imagine that I would be a part of a live ‘leadership workshop’ in my line dancing class this year.
In class, when we form our lines to dance sometimes if I am not feeling too sure of the steps, I’ll choose to place myself in one of the back rows. That way, I know that the leaders will be in front and I can follow them. However, I have learned that in line dancing, after every few bars of music, the entire group of dancers end up turned to the side, or sometimes completely around, so that the back line becomes the front line (the leaders). I am unable to avoid leading no matter where I place myself.
What I have come to appreciate in this process is that each of us has the propensity to be a leader. Not always do we lead in the same way, but each of us is occasionally called to lead, even when we might not feel fully confident. Given the right environment, we can each step up as the leader we are needed to be. In line dancing, sometimes we lead from the front, sometimes we lead from the side and sometimes we lead from behind. Skilled leaders understand the value of each of these positions and they have the intuition to place themselves in the position where they are most needed and where they will be most effective, depending on the situation. Skilled leaders do not insist that leadership at the front is the only acceptable method. Skilled leaders are never worried that they need to ‘protect’ their territory by refusing to relinquish appropriate amounts of control. Skilled leaders transition easily from front to side to back to front. Reba J, our instructor, is one of the most skilled leaders I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
Once Reba J has given us our direct instructions (sometimes patiently repeating them), she then chooses where she will dance. She sometimes dances at the front, sometimes she slips in at the back and sometimes she dances along side of us. Other times she simply cheers us on as she attends to the music, picture taking and logistics. No matter where she is there is no question that she is our leader and that she is in charge. The finesse she shows in knowing exactly where to position herself, to ensure that she brings out the best in each of her dancers, is remarkable. Although I have not asked Reba J this, I suspect that one of her goals is to give us the direct leadership we need as dancers until we are ready to lead ourselves. At that moment, she simply steps aside and allows us to shine. I have worked with skilled business people who could learn a lot from Reba J.
In life it is important to recognize that we are often called to lead. It is also important to recognize that we are not always asked, nor required or wanted to lead from the front. My family is now just one week away from our daughter’s wedding and I realize that there will be many moments of potential leadership in this next week. Jim and I will be reminding ourselves that the role we once held in our family as ‘leading from the front’, will no longer be as necessary. In recent years, we have tried to practice leading from behind, encouraging our kids as they tried new things and then returned to us to teach us some new ideas and skills. I suspect that leading from the side is going to serve us well in the coming months and years. It is time for us to walk with our children. They can sneak a peek to the side if they need us. And they will let us know if they need us out in front. I am so grateful that my time with Chinook Country Line Dancers has helped me become quick footed so that I can make my transitions as needed. Thank you, Reba J, for modeling such inspiring leadership.
My challenge for each of you this week is to notice the position from which you are leading. Think about whether this is the most effective position for you to occupy based on the results you want to achieve. ....5, 6, 7, 8 Dance On!
Don’t wait for a great moment to make change; take this moment and make great change.
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