I absolutely love the “What Do You Do” collection of books written by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Besom. They are beautiful to look at and such good advice for both children and adults. So far Yamada has written three books in this series and they are all incredible:
- What Do You Do With An Idea?
- What Do You Do With A Problem?
- What Do You Do With A Chance?
I wish I could get Yamada and Besom to team up with me on a dance-inspired version called, What Do You Do With A Correction? I think all dance teachers worldwide would read it to every dancer age 2-100 from now until the end of time. It would become an immediate international bestseller and be translated into every language across the globe. I think I’ll try tweeting them when this blog post goes live.
Why? Because growing dancers often do not have a clue what to do with a correction. I can remember being a young dancer and getting all self-conscious and bunchy when my dance teacher corrected me. I remember holding my breath when she walked by and thinking, “No, no, no….” My inward chant was a little prayer that I would not be corrected. It wasn’t until I was 12 years old, a decade into my training and taking a class from the world famous Liz Imperio, that I learned what to do with a correction. She had just given me a tip to fix something in my dancing. Funny, I can’t remember the specific correction now, but I do remember her words that followed it. She must have sensed my prickling at the correction, because she looked me in the eye and in her commanding voice said, “If I do not give you a correction in my class, it is because I think you are a lost cause, and my correction will be wasted on you.”
Wait, what? If I were a cartoon character in that moment my eyes would have popped out of my head and rolled all over the floor while a thinking bubble of giant exclamation points floated above me. To date, I think that was my biggest a-ha moment of dance and also the one that has catapulted my personal and professional growth throughout my life.
I was transformed. Liz Imperio immediately changed my perspective on corrections, and suddenly I was clamoring for them in all of my classes. Liz taught me that a correction is a gift from someone who believes in you and your potential, and it should be accepted, honored and used with grace and appreciation. What a moment.
If I could convince Yamada and Besom to write my book, it would go something like this:
One day I went to dance class, and I received a correction.
I didn’t want it. I didn’t ask for it. It was not enjoyable. But, I got one anyway.
Why did my teacher hand this to me? “What do you do with a correction?” I wondered.
It felt awkward and heavy. I was uncomfortable. I wanted to un-receive it. Set it down. Make it go away. I did not know how to handle my correction, so I gave it major attitude. That didn’t work.
I tried ignoring it too, but that only made it worse. I kept receiving it again and again with more force after that.
Well, I found what you DON’T do with a correction, that’s for sure.
I started worrying about my correction. I began dwelling on it. It followed me home from dance class where I thought and thought about it. It started growing in size. It got so big, I didn’t know if I would fit out the door to get to dance class again.
The next morning I woke up, and it was gone. Phew. But when I walked into dance class again, there it was waiting for me. And it was bigger than before. It had even grown hair. Now I didn’t just have a correction, but I had a big, hairy correction. It got ugly. “What on earth do you do with this correction?” I worried.
I started stressing about what the other dancers would think of me with this annoying correction following me around all the time. Would they notice? Might they get mad at me? My teacher sure had a look of annoyance on her face. This persistent correction did not seem to be making me any friends!
One day I realized this correction was not going to go away on it’s own. I had to do something about it. I decided to face it head on. The next day, I went to dance class. When my teacher gave me the correction again, this time I imagined it was a not a big, hairy, ugly correction. Instead, I pictured a beautiful gift wrapped in colorful paper with a big shiny bow. I smiled at my teacher as she gave it to me, and just like the polite recipient of any gift, I said “Thank you.”
I thought I saw a little twinkle in my teacher’s eye as I said it. I instantly felt stronger and more powerful. Wiser. It felt so good, I decided to take my correction to the next level. I unpacked it, twirled it around in my hands and studied it. I figured out how to use it, and suddenly my dancing was lighter, easier and so much better!
So, now I know what you do with a correction. You accept it graciously and dance with it because corrections help you grow every step of the way. Then, you hope for more.