Ep. 155 Transcript - Dr. Chelsea Pierotti

Ep. 155 Transcript

Dr. Chelsea: Hi, dance coaches, it's Dr. Chelsea, and before I get into today's episode, I want to share a new opportunity to work with me for free as you plan and prepare your new season. One of my core values and a pillar of this podcast is community, and I want to put action behind those words and help you feel a stronger sense of community as you start the new season.

So if you agree that investing in yourself and your team is better done with support, I encourage you to join my free five-day email challenge coming up in mid-April. This challenge is designed to help you define your personal focus and plan for the season with the help of like-minded dance coaches. The simple five-day email challenge will help you go from excited but maybe a little overwhelmed to confident and focused with a clearly defined vision to kick off the season.

The challenge runs live for five days from April 17th to 21st, 2024, and we will include daily emails with small tasks and inspiration to get you started. There are also two options for live support from me and other coaches via zoom and a pop-up BAND community the whole time to talk with other coaches who are going through the same things that you are. So don't go it alone. Come join us!

Go to www.chelseapierotti.com/challenge to sign up right now. The link is in the show notes wherever you're listening. Just scroll down a little, and you'll see it in the show summary. That's www.chelseapierotti.com/challenge. I really hope I get the chance to work with you!

[Motivational Intro Music]

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Welcome to Passion for Dance, the show for dance educators and coaches on a mission to change the dance industry by creating happier, more successful dancers through positive mental skills training. I'm Dr. Chelsea, and today I want to talk about how valuable it is to ask your dancers questions at the end of the year.

Now, I know at the end of the season it's easy to go straight into next season. Many of us have a banquet and tryouts are the next week. But maybe, even hopefully, you take a small break in between. But either way, before you dive too fast into next season, do you stop and ask your dancers to reflect on the past season and share their candid thoughts with you?

While it can be hard to hear, and I understand sending out a survey or sitting down to talk can be nerve wracking, but it's incredibly powerful. And I don't just mean exit interviews. One of the most untapped resources is your leadership (either formal captains, graduating seniors, or even upcoming leaders). Asking them key questions can completely change your next season for the better.

So today, I'm going to share a little about why it's so important, whether you're in year two or year twenty, and I'll share five questions you should ask your captains specifically. I promise it'll change how you plan and set yourself up for the next season!

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[Motivational Music]

Hi, I'm Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and mental performance coach. I know what it feels like to be a passionate dance teacher who cares about your dancers, but you want to challenge them and help them be their best, and I also recognize that some traditions and teaching practices in the dance world are harmful. So I'm on a mission to change our dance industry by creating happier, more successful dancers using positive mental skills.

When you understand how to help your dancers with their confidence, how to find their own motivation, work together as a team and more, your dancers will unlock new levels of competitive success and happiness. And it's not just about them; you deserve the same. So we'll talk about how dance teachers can use positive mental skills to be more confident, resilient, and motivated as well.

Be sure to hit “subscribe” wherever you listen to podcasts. There are new episodes every Thursday, and each week you'll hear from me and my guests with advice and actionable tips for building mental toughness, covering topics about mindset, motivation, resilience, and building a community. Passion for Dance is a show designed to help dance educators like you have a positive impact on every dancer you teach.

[Motivational Music]

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Dr. Chelsea: As coaches, many of us stop and reflect at the end of the season. It's a time to think about our choices, our mistakes, our lessons, and our successes. It's one of the most valuable things you can do with your time, because reflection is the way we learn. If you want to improve year after year, it takes a deep, honest reflection. Otherwise, you just copy/paste your season and hope for something better.

It's like that old quote that gets misattributed to Einstein, but nonetheless, I like the point:

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

So if your year wasn't perfect (and whose is), you should be making some adjustments and not doing the same thing again hoping it'll magically be different this time. But what kind of adjustment? What exactly should you be changing? You have to be smart about it. Do some digging, reflecting, and utilize your resources to determine what's best for you.

Importance of Asking Our Captions to Reflect on the Year – 5:01

Even though many coaches I talk to enjoy reflection and planning, and they are even comfortable with it, it surprises me how very few of us stop to ask our captains to formally reflect on the season at the end. If you do exit interviews, that's a great start, but in this case I actually mean asking them to take time to write down their answers to specific questions and then sit down and talk to you. These are questions that you can hold onto and use to shape your future team, but it's a gift to them as well.

I believe taking one-on-one time with a graduating senior is an essential part of growth as a coach and a team, but there is something special and unique in asking your captains to reflect on their own leadership journey as well. That kind of reflection will not only help you as a coach, it will be an incredible gift to that leader, to learn more about themselves and the skills they've gained through leading your program.

Especially if you have captains who are returning for another season, you certainly don't want them to start next year as a leader without spending time reflecting on the last year. But for those who are graduating, we all hope that being a part of our team will help them learn those life skills that they'll take with them to the next step. But they probably won't pause and consider exactly what they've learned unless you ask them to.

I mean, think about it. That time in your life, were you really aware of those big life lessons you learned, or were you just thinking forward? We tend to be more, “Go, go, go. Next thing, next thing,” when we're younger. So I think it's a gift to help your dancers learn to pause and reflect before jumping into the next thing.

How I Learned to Ask My Dancers to Pause and Reflect – 6:38

I certainly didn't do this the first few years. I didn't know any better. It took a while to learn this lesson, and here's how I learned it.

There was a year that I had a junior in a leadership position who I was not convinced should return as a senior leader. I wasn't ready to give up on her exactly, but I had some big concerns. So I decided I would sit down, talk to her about her journey that year and what it would look like moving forward. It was so eye opening to both of us that I started to do it every year after that and including graduating seniors.

A few times I've had those kind of junior leader meetings, and there was one time I had a captain be so wishy-washy and non-committal in our meeting, it reassured my belief going into it that she wasn't ready to be a leader next year. She was in it for the title, and that became abundantly clear, so she was not a leader her senior year.

Other times, I had leaders that I wasn't sure were ready to come back in a leader role, but when I talked to them, it turns out — there was one in particular, she had this incredible idea about how to improve things the next year, but as a junior captain, she didn't speak up all season. So I thought she was not ready to be a leader, was just too quiet, wasn't going to really be that model. But it turns out that she just felt like she was a junior, and so, it wasn't her place to speak up. So we talked about the value of expressing your ideas no matter your status or age, and I encouraged her to start implementing her ideas even during that tryout process.

And again, she was a dancer I might not have taken back to lead again had we not talked, but she turned out to be an excellent leader, and even more importantly, I think she learned more about how to be an excellent leader because we had such a candid conversation. It was really a gift to both of us.

Through these kinds of interviews, you're teaching your dancers the simple power of reflection. There's really an immense pleasure that you receive from sitting down and writing out the things that made you happy, the things you're grateful for, the lessons you learned. I promise it's a document they will even treasure and look back on as well.

I know I've had leaders talk to me years later, saying how they have looked back on it. It's helped them write college essays. It's helped them as they go into a job interview in the future. It's an opportunity to express themselves to you and then write it down and understand exactly what they've really learned from it. It's another gift of a life lesson.

However, they are still teenagers or maybe young adults, so it may be something that they have the best of intention to complete, but then it ends up collecting dust in their car, smelling like feet in their dance bag. So I certainly recommend that you ask them to complete it and maybe bring it to your banquet or bring it to tryouts, or set up a special coffee date where you and your graduating captains can bring it and talk to them and share some of that with you. It's truly a powerful meeting.

What Questions To Ask Your Dancers – 9:29

So what kinds of questions do you ask? Well, as you'll be able to hear from a few of these, there's a lot you can learn as a coach about listening to their favorite moments and their hardest lessons. It will make you a better coach to help you prepare next year's leaders as well.

So it's beyond just, “What made you happy?” Those are great, and often they will tell you things that you didn't realize were so powerful. That, I think, is really helpful when you're planning, because we get so in the weeds about the big picture and preparing for game day and competition and getting everything ready, but when they share how some of the smallest things were their happiest moments, it's a nice reminder to take a breath and remember it's the little things that really make a big difference.

So you can come up with as many questions as you like, but I have a few ideas to get you started. Of course, I want you to be able to take action. You could go ask them today. And also, for simplicity’s sake, you can visit the show notes of this episode to copy these questions, and there are more of them on the website as well, besides the few I'll share here. So that's in the episode resources right in the show notes where you're listening now or www.chelseapierotti.com/155.

Okay, here are some questions I encourage you to ask your captains, whether they're graduating or returning.

Question #1: What Single Achievement Are You Most Proud Of? – 10:44

Number one is what single achievement are you most proud of? I love asking this to see if they go personal or team. It's not good or bad. It's just always interesting to me to see if they talk about a team achievement that they're most proud of, or a personal thing, maybe a dance achievement, sometimes they'll talk about a leadership achievement that they're proud of. It's kind of fun to purposely leave it a little vague and see where they go with it.

Question #2: What Experience/Event Represents the Worst of Last Year? – 11:13

Number two is what experience or event represents the worst of last year? Why was it a challenge, and what could you have done differently during this difficult time? I think it's really helpful for them to consider maybe a lesson of what I could have done better; or it also could come back on the coach, like what the coach could have done better; as a team, how we should have addressed something. A lot of times this leads to the things that were bubbling under the surface but never got dealt with until it became a problem, and helping everyone be more aware of how to fix that before it becomes a big deal.

So that one can be hard to hear sometimes as a coach, if there's something that we drop the ball on. I've had those. But other times, it's just really more about them and how they can reflect on where, “Yes, things were often great, but where could I have done something different that would have helped?”

Question #3: What New Dance/Performance Skills Did You Learn? – 12:07

Number three is what new dance skills did you learn, or what new performance ability did you gain? It could be an actual skill or sometimes I just like to ask them about what is better in your performance. Is it about the quality of movement? Is it your power? Is it your performance quality? Like, what is different that they are aware of. Because sometimes by the time they're older dancers, they don't feel like giant leaps and bounds are being made, right? They're not getting a skill for the first time (maybe they are), but there are often more subtle changes that we see, or if they go back and look at video from a few years ago, they would absolutely see. But I think it's valuable to see what has grown in your presence onstage in the last year.

Question #4: What New Leadership Skills Did You Learn? – 12:54

Number four is what new leadership skills did you learn? Ask them to really write it down and think about it. What truly got better for you as a leader? Because, again, those are those lessons we want them to take forward.

Question #5: What’s The Biggest Compliment You Received? – 13:08

Number five is I love to ask, “What's the biggest compliment you received last year,” and/or, “What was the biggest lesson you learned,” if you feel like you want to ask that. I feel like a lot of them will go there anyway with leadership skills. But asking them what biggest compliment they received — and again, let them go wherever. I've had some talk about something that came from me that I didn't realize would touch them so much, right? That off-handed comment on the way out to the parking lot one day that just meant so much. I've had them share stuff about what a peer has said or what a new dancer said to them, or maybe it was their parents. I've had some of them say what a judge said or the parent of another team who saw them in uniform and paid them a compliment. You know, those small moments are really nice to capture as well.

So there are a few ideas, and again, there are lots more in the episode resources for this show. So I hope you take the time to not only complete your own reflection but to help your leaders reflect as well and have some of these valuable conversations. They're truly some of my favorite times. It's a great way to continue on that positive trajectory next season. So thank you for listening, and keep sharing your passion for dance with the world!

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[Motivational Outro Music]

Thank you for listening to Passion for Dance! You can find all episode resources at www.chelseapierotti.com/podcast, and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more high-performance tips at @dr.chelsea.pierotti. This podcast is for passionate dance teachers and coaches who are ready to change the dance industry by creating happier, more successful dancers. I'm Dr. Chelsea and keep sharing your passion for dance with the world.

[Motivational Outro Music]

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