Those who dance and those who are dancers
Many of us dance, but how many of us are dancers? This might seem like an odd question – surely if you dance, then you’re a dancer. However, many people who do dance do not consider themselves to be actual dancers. Part of the reason for this is that we do not want to talk more highly of ourselves than our ability can meet. However, while this might seem sensible, it can actually detract from your motivation because you distance yourself from where you want to be.
The role of identity
The paradox that you might not be aware of is that you can actually improve your ability by saying that you are a dancer. This is actually used in numerous areas; you have heard people talk about affirmations or talking yourself into doing better. You might be quite dismissive of this notion. Surely action is required as opposed to just words and words can’t change reality. I certainly was dismissive of this when I first came across it. I didn’t care much my mother thought that me saying I would do better as school would help – I didn’t believe it.
However, there is actually some very sound reasoning behind this idea. The reasoning centres around a principle called ‘Consistency’.
When Michael Faraday (a British Scientists) was asked by his students if a disliked students was always wrong, his response was “He’s not that consistent.” This is an example of how important consistency is to us. You probably hate the idea of being inconsistent. In fact you probably hate it so much that in the past you have done things that were not that wise or in your best interest simply to ensure that you are consistent. It is in fact used very cleverly by advertisers and salesmen. The book below is very interesting if you want to learn more about the psychology of how we can be driven to do all sorts of things – be they good or bad for us.
However, we can use this to improve our dance. If we think of ourselves as dancers, then we will feel driven to ensure that we dance like dancers. Otherwise there would in inconsistency between our identity and what we can do.
Better dance through identity
If you simply tell people that you are a dancer, then you will quickly feel an urge from deep within you to ensure that you can dance at the level that a ‘dancer’ would. This urge will drive you to practice more intently and maintain greater focus as you do practice. This is how words will change things – through consistency.
Next time someone asks what you do in your spare time do not say something like ‘I learn dance.’ Instead, say something like ‘I am a dancer.’ This subtle difference will trigger that part of you that wants consistency, and then drive you on to be a better dancer. It can be a bit scary – you’re making a bold claim – but that’s what makes it work.