Chelsea: Hi, it’s Dr. Chelsea. This is the Passion for Dance podcast, and today I want to share from the heart with a short message about working hard and never getting credit for it.
I was recently working with a group of studio owners, and I heard a lot about how many things get thrown at them during recitals, how many things go wrong. I mean, the stories they had and what they have to deal with was just insane. On one hand, I get it (I wasn't surprised), but on the other hand, it’s hard to imagine what I would do if I was running recital and the whole building lost power or two parents break out in a fight in the lobby.
As part of that conversation, we were focused on being mentally prepared for big events as the studio owner, and I heard from one of the directors how disheartening it can be when you are bending over backwards, giving everything of yourself to your studio and no one seems to notice. That conversation inspired me to share a short message today about how to deal with those negative emotions when you feel like no one notices how hard you’re working.
[Motivational Intro Music]
Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and dance team coach turned sport psychologist. This podcast focuses on four main pillars: motivation, resilience, mindset, and community. Each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies, mindsets, and tips to teach your dancers more than good technique. This is a podcast where we can all make a lasting impact and share our passion for dance. Let’s do this!
[Motivational Intro Music]
Giving Credit Where It’s Due – 1:37
As teachers, studio owners, and coaches, we often don't get credit when things are going well. If our dancers are doing well at competition, they are praised and rightfully so. If we have a recital that goes off without a hitch, teachers might be praised but the studio owner who was running around in the background making sure every small detail is taken care of is rarely recognized outside of the studio.
As a coach, when my team had a great football performance I might hear, “They looked so good out there tonight!” But of course, it was always about how the team looked. Or if our clinic for elementary school dancers went well, I might hear, “Your dancers were so respectful last night. My daughter had a great time!” Of course, that’s all great. I’m always happy to accept compliments about my dancers, but if there is a compliment or praise coming our way, it’s usually not about how many hours I spent organizing the clinic or getting those T-shirts ready or the pain-staking hour I spent perfecting the cut in the half-time music.
The truth is, as a leader of your program, you are probably not regularly recognized or appreciated for all of the hours behind the scenes that people don't even realize you do. Unless you're in our world, people don't see the hours we prep for classes, how long it takes us to research costumes online, or dealing with the finances and the emails, and of course, we usually hear from parents when they want to complain. Rarely do we hear from them when their child is happy and loves our program.
So today, I want to say I see you, I know you're doing so much more work than anyone else recognizes. But I also want to offer a different point of view, a little mindset shift, if you will. It’s not just about praising you for your efforts today. Maybe you don't need the credit. We have seen in business, education, and sport over and over again the best leaders hear a compliment about their work and then consistently pass the credit on. Think about it. When a quarterback gets MVP, he talks about his team. When the highest-scoring point guard gets the post-game interview, she immediately says, “It’s a team effort.” There’s a reason for that. The best leaders pass on the compliments.
As teachers, if we receive praise about how our routine looks onstage, we usually pass it to the dancers themselves or maybe the choreographers. You know, “Oh, they’ve been working so hard!” Or we’ll share it with the other teachers and coaches. “Everyone did such a great job preparing their routines for recital.” I believe that passing on the compliment to someone underneath you is a sign of a really strong leader.
Taking Compliments and Taking Responsibility – 4:08
Now, before I go too far, I want to side note and say you should still internally receive that compliment. You know that your leadership is a strong reason why that parent is complimenting the routine or why your registrations are up. Internally acknowledge it and receive it. Externally pass it on.
The flipside to this though, as well, is that the best leaders not only pass on compliments, they take responsibility when something goes wrong, whether you were directly involved in whatever the issue is that that parent is mad about, you can take it as a learning tool. You take responsibility as the leader. This is how I learn and grow. If there was a mistake from a student leader or an assistant coach or a teacher at your studio, you can take responsibility and privately discuss the mistake with your assistants. Again, you can internally know it was not your mistake, but it still falls on you to establish the culture you want. So, externally, you take responsibility as the leader. Especially if you ever make a mistake, which of course we all do, you take responsibility for it yourself.
If your staff sees that you personally acknowledge and accept mistakes, if your dancers recognize that, if they know that you are trying to learn and make it better, they will all do the same. That’s the sign of a strong program culture. You own up to your own mistakes. Everyone does! But then you also, as the leader, take responsibility for all the mistakes underneath you in your program. I will acknowledge that that can be really lonely.
Sometimes you really didn't do anything but the blame is coming to you, or you're the one doing most of the heavy lifting but the praise is landing on other people. It is hard to not feel recognized for your good deeds and only deal with the negativity, and that’s really what started this whole train of thought for me. When we are at the top, leaders of our studios and programs, it is lonely up there. We're the ones not getting recognized and only dealing with the bad.
Notice Hard Work Within Yourself – 6:05
So, this is your reminder that if no one else is acknowledging your hand work, notice it within yourself. Celebrate the small wins. Recognize that a success from anyone else on your team is a reflection of your program and the culture you have built. You are allowed to be proud of that success, even if no one else is recognizing you. A strong leader doesn't need that external validation. You know you're doing the work and that other teacher’s success or that dancer’s progress is a reflection of what you have built, so own that within yourself.
Even though it can be lonely as the leader, a leader is nothing without their team, so constantly pass the credit and teach that lesson to your other teachers, assistants, athlete leaders. They can pass the credit as well and build a culture where the leaders stand behind mistakes to make them right and consistently praise others for a job well done.
When you constantly pass the credit, your assistants and fellow coaches will feel more valued and cared for, and then they will want to keep working hard to make your program the best it can be. It’s like that old saying, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Pass the positivity and compliments around when it’s earned and everyone will be more motivated to work within that culture.
That still leaves the icky feeling sometimes that no one notices your hard work, but just like I tell the 12-year-old in my ballet class that she doesn't need her teacher’s approval to know she worked hard, I will say to you that you don't need anyone else’s approval to know you're giving your best to your dancers. Look inward for validation. If you're giving your best, that’s enough.
If you think this message might help another dance educator in your life, please share the episode on social media or send it directly with a message that praises their hard work. Let them know that you see them. We could all use a little uplifting note now and then, so let’s spread that message to other hardworking dance educators who need to hear it.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for sharing your passion for dance with the world!
[Motivational Outro Music]
Join My Email List – 8:30
Hi, dance coaches and teachers! If you are a dance educator, it’s important to make sure you are on my email list. It’s only for educators. It’s where I keep you all updated on my Mental Skills Workshops, the Relevé Membership, and even some special trainings coming up that are only available inside the membership. My email list is where I provide extra resources for dance educators and tips to help you and support you through this teaching journey.
If you're listening and you're a coach or a studio teacher and you think you might ever want to learn more about helping your dancers with their mindset, building their resilience, and motivating them, please join my list to make sure you get the inside scoop. So, here’s how to get on. You go to www.chelseapierotti.com/email and sign up. There’s a link in the show notes to the episode as well, and again, that’s where I’ll announce special opportunities like the one coming up soon that’s only available inside Relevé. But mostly, it’s where I provide more support and resources to help you with your dancers. So, go join in at www.chelseapierotti.com/email, and let’s work together and make a more positive impact on our dance industry!