As some of you may know, I ended my marriage in January 2008. Like all marriages that don’t work out, this was a long and painful process. By the end of it, I was feeling more than a little disconnected to my “Goddess” self. I felt unattractive and exhausted.As I weighed my options to reclaim that connection, I decided to take a belly dancing class. I’ve always loved the art of belly dancing – watching the rhythmic gyrations and the swaying costumes and being surrounded by the exotic sounds of Middle Eastern music. Mostly, however, it’s the simple, beautiful energy of femininity that attracted me to belly dancing.When I first started this journey, I was one of six beginners. Bravely, we decided to join together as a team and put on a beginner’s dance. We had four months, and we were psyched! Not so bravely, one by one, the other five novices succumbed to fear and dropped out. A week before the performance was to take place, our instructor came to me, and in hushed tones said, “Christine, you’re either going to do it alone, or you’re not dancing.” Well, it only took me a nanosecond to respond, loudly and proudly, “I am SO dancing.”You see, I’ve learned a lot about myself over the years. I’ve built and sold businesses, and I’ve mentored others to do the same, I’ve made a decent fortune, written a New York Times best seller, and made a host of great friends doing all this – but I’ve also made more than a few mistakes along the way, lost my dad to cancer, and chose to end my marriage. So the most important thing I’ve learned is to value what I have on the inside: boatloads of courage.
Before the performance, I was so dang nervous I couldn’t even eat (and I’m what they call a “good eater”). By the time I stood off stage and listened as the music started, I was literally shaking with fear. But I had to do it – because that’s just what we renegades do – we dance in the face of adversity. When they announced me and said I’d only been dancing for four moths, the crowd went wild – a whooping Middle Eastern chant literally filled the room. And so I left the safe dark wings and rippled and swayed my way onto the stage. What does any of this have to do with building a business? Oh…everything.Risk – Taking on something new – anything new, in fact – demands a ton of risk. And that means you will have to call forth the other side of that particular coin: courage. Quite simply, you will have to CHOOSE TO DANCE.
Feeling Exposed – Well, it’s obvious why belly dancing would involve feeling exposed, but surely starting up a new business venture will leave you exposed in ways you might never have expected. It will mean committing to others (and trusting yourself), and it will mean putting your very hopes and dreams on the line. If THAT isn’t exposed, then I don’t know what is. But hey, trust me, it’s worth it. Learning from Someone Else – For me, belly dancing was something almost completely unfamiliar to me. I had seen it, but watching and DOING are far different things. So I hired an expert to teach me what I would need to know. For many entrepreneurs, their startup companies will be their first venture into the world of business ownership. And in today’s world, we ALL have a lot to learn about business. Even having built and invested in hundreds of companies, I’m STILL learning – especially about how to navigate online communities and Web 2.0 (and 3.0 ?). You get my drift. So be READY to learn, and then be SURE to choose the right instructors!
Team – What I learned from my fellow novice dancers is a lesson I’ve experienced over and over in life: Finding a team who can match you in CHUTZPAH is not easy – not to mention ideology, knowledge, skill set, etc., etc. Take your networking, relationships and team building VERY seriously. In business building, these are the people who can literally make or break your company’s future.All of this from ONE belly dance? Absolutely. Why? Because I was OPEN to the lessons. So that’s the last tool I want to share with you all. Be open to the lessons in life. They’re everywhere. They’re in the board room, they’re in the lunch room, they’re in the family room at home. Don’t miss them, they’re honestly what this trip is probably all about, after all.Oh, and I learned one last thing, albeit super personal in nature: I am a gutsy, beautiful woman. No one can take that away from me.
So why do we take risks and dance — no matter what? To remind people to dance in the face of adversity.