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Chelsea: As a passionate dance teacher, do you ever feel overwhelmed, sometimes struggle to make decisions? We often have so many plates spinning at once. People keep coming with questions. We have to keep thinking forward and planning for what's next while doing what we need to do on that day. After a day of teaching, I often struggle to make a simple decision about what to eat for dinner. There is no mental space left.
If you've ever felt overwhelmed, especially with a big decision, those decisions where you're stuck at a fork in the road, you don't know which way is right, I have some guidance. I understand how making so many little decisions is mentally taxing, and then when there's a big decision to be made, we can freeze and lose confidence in what path to choose.
Today, I want to help you discover that you do know which path is right. You just might need help finding it within yourself. I'm Dr. Chelsea. Welcome to Passion For Dance, the show for passionate dance teachers and coaches. My mission is to change the dance industry by creating happier and more successful dancers through positive mental skills training. Whether you're a dance teacher or a dancer, this episode will help you make those hard decisions so you can confidently pursue your goals.
[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]
When was the last time you felt overwhelmed with a decision to make? As a teacher, maybe you were debating between costumes or music choices. Maybe there's a dancer who's struggling in class and you're not sure how to help. Dancers, I'll say the same to you. When was the last time you felt overwhelmed? I'm sure you struggle to know what's right sometimes too. Any of us with a passion for dance feel that way. It's normal to have these roadblocks, where we aren't sure which step is next. I get that feeling, too. When I just feel stuck, I have no idea where to go next.
Sometimes we even have to decide between two good options, and that feels hard too. For example, getting into two colleges you've been hoping for. Or teachers, maybe you've been on the job market for months only to get two good offers at the same time. Whether you have two clear choices in front of you or a blank slate with unlimited options, trying to figure out what's right can be really intimidating. “What if I make the wrong choice? How do I know what's best?”
When I was a young professional, I struggled with the decision of when to leave my professional company and focus on school. I loved my ballet company, but I had dreams for graduate school, which meant I was also struggling to be dedicated in college and make sure I would do what I needed to do to be accepted to a doctoral program later. I felt like I was stuck between two things I loved. I didn't understand what was right or even how the heck I was supposed to figure it out. I understand that even when you're stuck between two things you love, knowing what's right is really hard. How do I know if I'm making the right choice?
Knowing Your Values – 3:19
Well, if you've ever been at a fork in the road and you're not sure which way to go, there's a mental tool I want to talk to you about that could help you in these times of indecision. It's knowing your values. Do you have clear values, and should we even bother? Well, yes, I'm going to tell you all about it and why you should spend the time.
See, values are just words that describe how you want to behave. They describe the type of person you want to be. Think of it like describing how you want to treat yourself and others.
Values help when we're struggling to decide because they help us know our direction, even if the next step is unclear. I think of values like a guiding north star, or values are what you stand for. Values clarify the type of person you want to be, and every decision is the right decision if it aligns with your values.
Often, when we're stuck in indecision, it's because we're trying to make decisions that align with other people's values. If you aren't sure which decision is right, you can achieve clarity by comparing each decision to your personal values.
One year as a coach, I had a really hard decision to make about a specific dancer, whether she should be allowed to remain on the team after some behavior issues. But I cared about this dancer deeply and I felt torn about the right choice. Then I talked it through with my assistant coaches. We talked about our team's values and our personal coaching philosophies. And the answer became clear pretty quickly. It was still a challenging time. It doesn't mean these decisions are light and easy but knowing that our decision aligned with our values made it easier to communicate that to all the dancers and parents, and honestly, it made it a lot easier for me to sleep at night and not second guess my choices.
Workshops For Dancers – 5:16
Hi, dance teachers, if the episode you're listening to sparked an interest in mental skills training, I'd love to tell you a little more about the workshops I have available for dancers. I typically work with teams from dance studios, high school and college teams, and professional teams. There are both in-person and virtual options, so there's something for everyone.
During our time together, we cover a mental skill that's important to you and your dancers right now. That could be values, goal setting, competition mindset, growth mindset, perfectionism, controlling emotions, and more. I always have a meeting with the coach or the studio director before the session to make sure it's customized to your dancers and what you need right now.
It's important to me that it's the right fit.
One studio owner texted me right after our recent session and said:
“Hi, Chelsea. I wanted to tell you how absolutely wonderful your workshop was last night. The girls are still talking about it today, and I'm so proud of how open and honest they were with you. You were awesome and I love how you gave them concrete steps and strategies. We feel so lucky to be able to work with you. Thank you.”
Comments like that mean so much to me. Again, I want it to be the right fit and I want you to walk away with clear action strategies of what comes next. I truly love working with dance teams, and I'd love to talk to you if you think your dancers would benefit from more mental skills training.
So if you'd like to find out more about these custom mental skills workshops, visit www.chelseapierotti.com/workshop. You'll see the link in the show notes wherever you're listening now. That's www.chelseapierotti.com/workshop to find out more.
Values Help You Achieve Your Goals – 6:53
Values aren't just about helping with decisions though. That's one of my favorite things about them. But values also make it so much easier to achieve your goals. Now, values are different from goals, but they do help you get there. I work with lots of school teams in dance studios during the summer and fall to establish their collective values and goals. We might set competition goals, practice goals, social goals, but every goal we set starts with values. If you don't know what you stand for, it's hard to set a goal to get there. Clear values help you achieve success and growth because they focus your attention towards your clear vision.
Again, when I work with groups, having aligned values means you're all working toward the same vision. So usually dancers are more motivated. They support each other and they're more focused during rehearsals when we've talked about their collective values.
Let me share one specific example. There was a high school team that asked me to set values and goals, so we met together to do just that. And for this particular team, past leaders had some toxic behaviors. They were gone, but this team now wanted to start fresh and make sure everyone was aligned and on the same page. They wanted to make sure there was no more infighting or blowing off practice because they weren't getting along. It was important that everyone feel heard since that wasn't true the year before.
So we started our session talking through the team's values for the season. What type of dancer do they want to be? What's the quality of the program they want to portray? I'll often ask, “Fill in the blank: I'm proud to be part of a team that cares about blank.” It could be something currently true or aspirational, but it gets the dancers to consider what's most important to them.
After a long conversation with lots of input, the team will land on their core values for the season. One of those values for this team was community, and the dancers talked about how that would drive their behaviors all year. Remember, values describe how you want to behave in the moment, and the type of person you want to be. So your values should directly relate to behaviors.
To these dancers, community meant they were supportive of each other and vocally positive during class. They wanted to practice kindness when they were together in school and in group chats. They also wanted to be a team that was well represented in the larger school community and their town. We were able to define that value, know who they wanted to be, and the behaviors that would make that happen.
Behaviors – 9:31
The behaviors is an important part of this. Saying your value isn't enough. You have to live in those values, and that means taking accountability when you mess up. Values need ongoing action. The dancers I see who have the most improvement with this or the best results at the end of a season, keep talking about their values all year. You have to be able to articulate them, know what behaviors are expected, hold each other accountable when you get off track, and always see those values as a guiding light.
We all mess up sometimes and make a choice that's not in alignment with our values. For a dancer that values growth, she might decide to skip a workout because she's too tired, or a coach who values confidence might get stuck in a cycle of self-doubt. Having the value doesn't mean you'll always be perfect and live in that value every day. That's not the point. To me, the magic of having clear values is when you do drift away from what's important, you notice it faster and fix it.
Back to making hard decisions, sometimes we make a snap decision in the moment and then realize it's wrong. With clear values, you'll notice that faster. You'll realize it goes against your values and can try to make it better.
As a teacher, it's my personal values that help so much with decision making and getting back on track after a mistake. Say you value responsibility, but you make a decision to blow off something from your to-do list that you said you'd do, but then you might immediately feel bad about it the next day. If you know responsibility is important to you, that means you want to be the type of person who's responsible. It doesn't mean you're perfect, but it means when you make a choice that goes against that value, you'll feel it quickly and you can correct it right away.
As a teacher or a coach, we can also show our dancers how to humbly handle it when we make a choice and behave outside of our values. As a dancer, you can also show your teammates or maybe the younger dancers that look up to you in the studio the same thing. Identifying your values helps you stay on track with what's most important to you. And values help you establish clear goals that align with who you want to be.
Values Help Us Make Hard Decisions – 11:45
Back at the beginning, I was talking about making hard decisions, and that's where values are a game changer. As a high school dancer, maybe you're comparing two college programs that seem really similar and they both seem great. It's hard to know which one is right. Try taking a look at them through the lens of your values. Which one is more aligned with the dancer you want to be? Maybe as a coach, you're trying to decide who should be in the routine or if you should have alternates or not. Those decisions look different depending on your values. There's not one right answer, even season to season. But if you have clear values, those hard decisions are made on a solid foundation that you can believe in, and you can articulate it to others.
As a mental performance consultant, I view values as a key first step in most of the work that I do with dancers. I can't help you be more successful and happier if I don't know what matters to you. What kind of dancer do you want to be? What kind of teacher do you want to be? What is your heart's deepest desire for how you want to behave and show up? Once we know that, we can work to set the goals that make those desires come true.
I want to wrap up by making the point that our values are part of our identity, but our identity is an ongoing thing. It's not something you decide on or discover about yourself, and then it's set for life. Your identity evolves as you do, and that work is never done, which means your values will likely evolve too, and that's normal. You won't value the same thing as a 16-year-old studio dancer, a 24-year-old professional, or a 40-year-old studio owner. So, consider and evaluate your personal values regularly. Keep coming back to this and see how they fit your current season.
I leave you with this simple reflection question: what are your core values? What kind of person do you want to be? If you're looking for more guidance from within, knowing your values will provide that guidance and tell you what goals and actions will bring you the most joy and success. Trust your own journey. Make sure it's based in your values and not those of someone else.
Thank you so much for being here and keep sharing your passion for dance with the world.
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