I have been teaching for close to 5 years and was recently searching for personal characteristics of those that excel and those that stagnate. My search went deep and took me from personality traits to physical attributes. There is so much information floating through my head and one day I will collect my thoughts in a single comprehensive article. But in the mean time I did find one thing that has stuck out and it is this that I would like to present today.

Those that have progressed quickly will always state the following when things go wrong “was it me?“. So simple, elegant and just three simple words but yet such a powerful statement to say to yourself. By saying this statement at the point of a mistake does not mean you stop dancing but you accept the possibility that you have made a mistake; most people (generally speaking) who have this awareness and willingness to accept improvement would not want to repeat mistakes.

Now there is subtlety in the wording and it is not the same as the following:

“I don’t know this move” – Using ignorance as an excuse.

“I am crap anyway” – Adopting a defeatist mindset.

“It was his/her thought” – Closed off from the possibilities of learning.

“…” – Does not care about learning.

Even if this mistake was not your fault just the act of thinking will help you improve.

This is why people generally either crash or excel after they attend their first congress as the experience is overwhelming and most people will spend the night thinking “Was it me?” and come back with a strong will to learn or give up.

This now ties in nicely with why people are stagnant. For the majority of Salsa dancers out there the concept of training is alien (attending one-hour classes each week is not training) and therefore they rely on their natural gifts, but this will only take them so far and to progress they need to work hard.

How about a simple challenge – for one night take responsibility for all mistakes that occur? Do not take this as a negative task or allow this to deflate you but rejoice in the fact that you have more to learn.

Please do not mean you take this article literally and beat yourself with a stick but try to understand the point I am trying to convey. If you do understand what I am trying to get across then consider this my first tip for rapid improvement. If you found this useful or have any other thoughts please leave me a comment below.

Toan Hoang

Written by Toan Hoang

Toan Hoang has been dancing Salsa for more than 10 years and was the co-founder and managing director of TNT Dance in London; A dedicated and holistic Mambo school, that thrives on innovation, and hopes to develop and inspire the next generation of instructors and performers. www.tntdance.info

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