This is the first season that I’ve actually paid attention to the show, Dancing With the Stars. It’s impressive! Why? Not simply because people who may have little or no dance experience work hard to actually learn the artful techniques of real dancers, but because it’s a great example of what you can do if you choose to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Though it’s clear that some of the contestants are chosen because their presence will capture more viewers, the ones who come on week after week and up the ante so you don’t know for sure who might win are the most intriguing.
That being said, I have a particular fondness for Chad Ochocinco Johnson, the wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals. To me, Chad is an extraordinary example of what any of us can do if we set our minds to it. He has evolved before our eyes, shedding each week, the NFL star and becoming a dancer, a sensitive interpreter of the nuances of movement and tempo and artistic expression. He is an example of what it means when we believe we can get out of the box where we’re well known and successful, and do something new. Not only that, but he jumped out of his comfort zone in front of thousands of people, realizing that he may not accomplish this goal the way he does on the football field. Dancing put him in a whole new league, a whole new field of dreams.
Clearly he succeeded. Making it to the top four speaks well of his efforts. His win is our win because we’re reminded that we have a choice every day. We can live on the success we had once in some occupation, or some relationship, or past achievement and be satisfied. We can let our former success be the trophy we point to any time a new conversation comes up, or we can move past the old laurels and reinvent ourselves. We can prove once again how flexible we are, how willing we are to learn and to risk and to become more than we were just a few days before.
Sure, Chad may have been motivated by his affection for his partner and dance teacher, Cheryl, but a little love never hurts when we need inspiration. In fact, it’s a great thing to remember whatever we’re trying to accomplish because for any of us, whatever we do, there’s someone in the wings who is either actively or quietly working behind the scenes to insure our success. That person may be the friend who gives advice and comfort whenever the need arises, the one who takes care of life’s mundane issues so you have time to pursue dreams, or the one who simply says heartfelt prayers on your behalf, knowing you’re meant to do great things, believing in you even more than you may believe in yourself.
I’m not sure I could go from football to footloose, have the flexibility or even the courage to get out there and practice those dancesteps over and over until they are second nature, but I’d like to think I’d be willing. I’d like to think that I wouldn’t put up every potential red flag to keep from trying because I didn’t actually have the courage to sign up for the team.
If you’re great at what you do, I applaud you. If you’re willing to reinvent yourself and become great at something else too, you inspire me. This experience of watching Chad grow to become a dancer inspires my thinking, maybe even my hopes for new dancing shoes. Keep on dancing whatever you do!