This weekend I was listening to the radio, and when “In the Mood” by Glen Miller came on, I was reminded of an incident that happened to me when I was 17. This was one of those pivotal moments which helped shape my attitude and approach to life.
At that time, my best friends father who had played in big band had introduced us to the music, and we had become big fans. This meant that when Herb Miller came to town with the Glen Miller Orchestra we were desperate to go see them and listen to the music live and in person.
Now, just to give some perspective this was 1977 and punk music was at its peak so it was quite strange for a group of 17-year-olds to be going to a gig for music from the 1940’s.
It will come as no surprise to say that when we arrived at the gig we were the youngest people there by a couple of decades.
The music was great, it exceeded our expectations, but for me, the experience was still a little bit lacking. Because here we were listening in a big dance hall to a big dance band, and yet we were not dancing.
The challenge was none of us had ever had any dance lessons and consequently couldn’t dance.
Just sat at the next table to us was a group of older women, all of whom seemed to be really enjoying the music, but like us, they were not dancing either.
So I got up, and much to the shock of my friends and went over and asked one of the ladies if she wanted to dance.
She smiled and said she’d love to.
I smiled back and said, me too, but I’m afraid you’re going to have to teach me, as I don’t know any of these dances.
She took me by the hand and said ok, well this one’s a Foxtrot, let’s start with that.
Now, I’d like to say I was a natural and I took to it like a duck to water, but that wouldn’t be strictly true, and I am sure that my dance partner had more than a few bruised toes for the next couple of days.
But over the course of the evening, she taught me the Fox Trot, the Quick-Step and one other which I forget the name, and the two of us experienced the pleasure of dancing to big band music, which I have to say was exquisite. It’s one thing to listen to the big band music, it’s a completely different experience to enjoy it in the way it was intended.
Interestingly, none of my friends followed my lead they choose to sit on the sides and just listen.
This was a great lesson for me and I took three things away from it that I have tried to remember and live by.
Life is Not a Spectator Sport
Whilst it was great to listen to this music live, it was much, much better to be out there dancing to it. Don’t sit on the sidelines, get involved, and get as much out of life as possible.
This is not a rehearsal, we only get one shot. So if there is something you want to do or want to try then go for it.
Don’t just watch others, give it a go yourself. It’s better to fail than to miss out on a great opportunity, and who knows you might just surprise yourself and succeed.
The Good Things in Life are Outside Our Comfort Zone
None of my friends were prepared to be vulnerable and ask the ladies next to them to dance, or to teach them to dance. They didn’t want to put themselves in that position. They don’t feel comfortable asking, nor trying to do something for the first time in such a public setting.
But the good things in life are often outside of our comfort zone, and we need to be willing to step outside of it if we want to experience or achieve some of these things. To this day my friends often tell me they regret not doing what I had done, and if they could only go back they would do the same.
Don’t Let a Temporary Lack of Knowledge or Ability Hold You Back
Now just to be clear, I am not suggesting that we should be reckless and just dive into anything without the required skills.
No that would be foolish.
But, just because we can’t do something, or we don’t understand something fully, it doesn’t mean we cannot learn. There are so many resources available to us books, the internet, training courses, coaches, and mentors, and if we search we will find ways to improve our capabilities and become proficient at many things.
I couldn’t dance, but a simple request helped to remedy that. Now I wasn’t a ballroom dancing champion, but I was able to develop enough ability to enjoy the evening.
Whilst these might sound like simple life lessons, and in reality, they are, but applying them has helped me achieve many things that have amazed my colleagues, friends, and family.