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Don't aim for a competition. Dominate.

You’re in the On-Deck area when you hear the music fade out and clapping sound. You take that deep breath that doesn’t necessarily settle the nerves in your stomach. You straighten your posture, feel the connection to your partner, even if you don’t look at them; you have their hand and they have yours.

You step out onto the floor. The room is called to a silent focus. On you. The judge in your sightline is already watching you. The shimmering skirts rustle around for a moment and come to rest in their places. Each of you has less than two minutes to dance, which could seem like a lifetime, or only a breath, but few precious seconds will determine your placement with the judges. Better make this the best round of the night.

How do you deal with Pressure?

Does it make you upset? Anxious? Frustrated? Fearful?

Why do we face it? Again and again? Why do we walk onto the ballroom floor and stare down our greatest challenges? Even terror?

Why do we come back?

This past July, Our friend Elena faced the competitive floor with both nerve and desire. Entering a competition that is the largest in Arthur Murray, and rivals some of the biggest in the world. She battled dozens of other women in her category, not to mention plenty of internal conflicts with emotions and exhaustion. Why did she do it…?

What did she get in return, other than the obvious victory and honor that came along with winning the Associate Bronze Scholarship and the Top Female Student Award in Associate Bronze?

Upon reflection, she had this to say:

“What did investing in Unique do for me and my dancing? Really, Everything I needed! It humbled and inspired me, grounded and exalted me, energized me when I thought I had nothing left, and only left me wanting more! It is the beauty of competition with the camaraderie of team sports, a chance to meet friends and create mentors, add to the bond in partnerships, and learn things you never could without it: How to appreciate and love everything you and your incredible instructors and amazing coaches have worked towards. Best of all, it’s a chance to dance your heart out, like no one is watching, while making connections with everyone around you!”

Pressure, it seems, didn’t make Elena anxious or fearful enough to prevent her from running headlong into one of the best debut competitions she could have hoped for. No, it has made her Strong. Resilient. Determined.

When you want to succeed at a Competition:

We all get caught up in comparing ourselves to others on the floor, but in order to be our best, sometimes we have to put blinders on. Block out the other competitors, choose to feel like you’re floating on the floor or soaring in the sky, but don’t notice anything about those dancers swirling around with you.

Be your own best friend and remember to do two things for you and your dancing:

  1. Forgive yourself when you make a mistake, and
  2. Congratulate yourself on doing a good job.

If you can be honest about your weak spots and still celebrate your tiny victories, you are on the road to greatness! It’s like all those inspirational quotes you might see as you scroll down your newsfeed:

Look in the mirror.

That’s your competition.

Or,

Stop competing with others.

Start competing with yourself.

It’s all true. The moment you begin to dance as though you only want to be a bit faster than last round, or slightly smoother than before, you’ve already gone miles beyond the person who’s looking over their shoulder at the dancer they envy and feel is better than them. All of the sudden, there is no other dancer. There is only you and your partner on this floor, spinning, turning, rolling in and back out and landing the dip on the perfect note!

The music is faded out. You present to the audience. Bow and acknowledge your partner. You know everyone saw the difference in your dancing from before. You can hear it in the cheers and clapping. You walk off the floor with a silent knowledge: that you competed with your old self.

And you won.

That’s how you walk on and off a dance floor and Dominate.

The choice you make to compete isn’t really that difficult. Even if you’re only a little curious, it’s worth trying it, just once. If only to experience what it feels like to decide who you’re competing against (yourself), and totally flatten them! Every single time.

If you’d like to know more about the Competition that Elena went to, there’s a piece about it here, from Arthur Murray Live!

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