Part 2: Confessions of a WD Advertising Mom
Braids, buns, hairspray, glitter, eyelashes, lycra, lace and lipstick… Dancers unite, competition season is here! It’s the time of year that validates nail-biting auditions, countless studio hours and endless rehearsals. It’s a time to bond as a team and grow as an individual.
As a former dancer, I’m now a dance mom, watching my oldest daughter, Zoe, discover the dancer life. I credit dance for molding me into who I am today as a person, a mother and most definitely as an advertising professional.
As Zoe and I recently tackled this season’s first competition, I reflected not only on how my training as a dancer actually serves me today but also on how my daughter is gaining those same, lifelong gifts that dance has blessed me with.
So, in no particular order, I share a few of these with you.
“Mom, what time is it?” “What number are they on?” “Are we going to be late?” “Do you know where you are?” I swear, she’s a mini-me. Does she have any idea who she’s talking to? She should know my time quirks by now. So, unless we’re less than 15 minutes out, not there yet and I’m actively hyperventilating, momma’s got this scene under control.
You learn early on not to be late in the dance world. There are some instructors who won’t even let you attend class if you’re late. Late to a competition… and forget it, you’re marked for life.
I have this supernatural ability to plan an entire day, to the minute, because being late gives me heartburn. The pulse of an ad agency centers around deadlines, thus the clock rules my world and there’s no room for missed opportunities. Punctuality means you’re reliable and being reliable speaks volumes to all involved.
Zoe started running fever on competition day. My mom looked at me like I had three heads when I told her that Zoe would still be competing. How could she forget the time I had mono — did I get a pardon? Regardless, Zoe pulled herself out of bed that afternoon and endured an hour and a half of hair and makeup and then several hours of waiting, performing, changing, waiting and performing again.
They say the “show must go on.” As a dancer, you learn to push through the pain, the nerves, the doubt and you carry on. Misty Copeland, American Ballet Theatre soloist, describes perseverance as a “strength, this will, to just continue to survive and succeed.”
As I reflect on how perseverance applies to me now, I look back at the countless number of sleepless nights with my newborns, those random rip-roaring headaches, the unbearable anxiety I get when giving a presentation and the countless other hurdles that have come my way. In the face of adversity, no matter what, you still have to clock in, get it done and in times where giving up seems easier, you don’t.
Zoe is a true perfectionist… I have no idea where she gets it. And in true form, and not unlike myself, Zoe struggles with a fear of failure. On competition night, Zoe fell out of a trick and came off the stage in tears. While my heart broke in her moment of defeat, I also had a moment of great pride. She faced her fear that night, experienced failure and then carried on.
As a dancer, you’re constantly “failing”. You’re inevitably being corrected, falling out of a turn or forgetting choreography. There will always be a failed audition, but you’ll never get the part if you don’t learn from it, get back out there and do it again.
For me, failure comes in many forms: an unhappy client, showing up late to a meeting, going off strategy, inaccurate formulas, unattainable solutions. There are risks and what-ifs everywhere. And, in the end, it’s okay. Those are the things you learn from and that make you a better you. And what if no one ever took a risk for fear of failure? Would you have an iPhone in your hand right now? What about that lightbulb in your lamp? Countless failures bred those successes. Take your lumps, smooth out the wrinkles and shine on.
From a failed trick to fever, competition night tested Zoe and I both. As I snapped pictures behind the scenes, I couldn’t help but catch a glimpse of Zoe’s posture. She was holding her head high and she exuded confidence. And, I know she was crumpling on the inside for not hitting every mark. Yet, she was handling her disappointment with an admirable amount of strength and poise. I can’t help but beam at the brave and mature young lady she is becoming.
Naturally, dance requires a certain posture. Years at a ballet barre and you start to forget how to slump, but there is more than posture required as a dancer. Poise is a presence that can be felt and it demands attention.
Aside from the fact that my fair skin reveals most my emotions with an attractive red glow, I’d like to say I never let them see me sweat, but we’re only human, right? I have worked hard to get where I am today and I try to hold my self in a way that reflects the pride I take in my work. Besides the obvious need to bring your best work to the table, command the room and own it, because you can’t sell it until you sell it. Be brave, be strong, be premium — a consistent theme for those who know us here at Warren Douglas Advertising.
Whether it’s in-studio, on-stage or in the boardroom, the dancer persona cannot be denied. From courage to timeliness, I will forever tackle every day like a dancer. And no matter what the future brings, nothing is more satisfying than watching my daughter follow a path that is sure to set her up for inevitable successes.
“I was chosen to be a dancer. And with that, you live all your life.” – Martha Graham