“Walk like a dancer,” he replied. He looked me in the eye, tightened his core and then straightened his back. “If you want to be a dancer, you have to walk like one.”
He made his way into the studio to start his next ballet class, and as I watched him begin his barre routine, I remember feeling a mixture of relief and embarrassment, like someone had finally told me a truth I had been anxiously awaiting.
I wasn’t a good dancer.
Before that moment, no one had told me I needed to practice more often or that I needed to change my behavior in any way to become better at something I spent three afternoons a week doing.
At first, I thought he was a jerk. But years later, after having carried that disdain around (most assuredly ruining my posture as a result), it occurred to me that he was the first and only teacher during my adolescence to have expressed any kind of marked interest in my development as a dancer.
But it wasn’t because he cared about me or because he saw potential in me. (Those things could be true, but this is not one of those stories.)
It was because I was frustrated with a move I couldn’t do, and I had decided -- after 10 years of ballet training -- to directly ask for help.
I went looking for guidance, and what I got was a healthy dose of truth in return.
I wasn’t a good dancer because I wasn’t behaving like one. I wasn’t thinking like one. And I hadn’t been asking for the help I knew I needed.
So I stopped acting like some divine power would just instill me with talents as a result of keeping excellent attendance.
Now, it’s over ten years later, and I’m diving into a topic I adore: business.
But not just what online entrepreneurs like to call business -- webinar sequences, Facebook groups, and the occasional glance at numbers -- but the nitty gritty of business from a Fortune 500 level.
And as I read, it hits me that I have not been thinking like a business owner in the same way that all those years ago I was not walking like a dancer.
It showed in all aspects of how I was helping my clients and how I was running my own two businesses.
How reactive I was to what everyone else was saying worked for email marketing.
Or how I never asked questions about why we need to use Facebook ads.
Or how deep, strategic thinking was a luxury I had decided I couldn’t afford.
Walk like a dancer, he had told me.
Think like a business owner, I told myself.
As online business owners, we’ve fallen into this wonderful world with our crafts in our back pockets and hope in our eyes.
But darling, it’s not enough.
It’s not enough to do a three-year visioning exercise, light a candle, and wear your abundance crystals on your arm.
It’s not enough to hire a business coach in the hopes that he will provide you with the missing element in the form of a client onboarding system or an email sales funnel sequence.
And it’s certainly not enough to look at what everyone else is doing, copy it, and slap the sticker “business plan” on it.
Don’t get me wrong.
I love candles & crystals & business coaches.
What I don’t love is when we act like that’s what’s going to make us profitable or fulfilled in our businesses.
I have had deep, soul-baring conversations with far too many business owners post-candles / crystals / coaches to say that this model is working.
We’ve veered off-course.
And we deserve better.
You deserve to run a business that isn’t always breathlessly chasing after the latest trend.
One where you stop trying to medicate all the symptoms and instead start solving the root problems.
One where you embody the true sense of the word ‘visionary’ because you’re the one leading the industry.
It isn’t the easy path, but that’s the point.
If you decide to take it, you’ll be an exception. You’ll have that desirable competitive edge.
And that’s when everything really will change (and you won’t have to give anybody a testimonial for it).
So please stop pushing the easy button, and instead start thinking like a business owner.