Practice gratitude. Life gets really tough sometimes and it is easy to complain when things don’t go the way you hoped. Gratitude and grit go hand-in-hand. When you can express gratitude for the good that is in your life (and there is always something for which to be grateful), you can more easily move past the frustrations and keep moving forward. My mother always told me to count my blessings, especially when I felt like complaining, and embracing that habit has gotten me through very challenging seasons.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsey Dinneen, an entrepreneur, leader, and teacher. She founded and owns VidaDance Studio in Leawood, Kansas, she founded and is the Artistic Director of VidaDance (a professional dance company), and co-owns Brio Creative (a sales, marketing, and management consultancy) with her husband. She loves sharing the joy of dance and wellness with others, and creates online courses to teach various dance styles, stretching/toning, and healthy living. She enjoys dogs, coffee shops, friends, and art.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what events have drawn you to this specific career path.
Absolutely! Thank you for having me. I have been dancing since I was four years old. After watching a video of “The Nutcracker,” I fell in love with the beautiful costumes, and my mom enrolled me in a ballet class shortly after that. I grew up mostly studying classical ballet, and in college at Mercyhurst University, I branched out to include modern, tap, and jazz while earning my BA in Dance. After college, I moved to Kansas City to dance professionally, and did so with various local companies for five years. I’ve been an entrepreneur at heart for a long time, but it wasn’t until about five years ago that I finally took the first steps towards becoming one. I was inspired to start my own professional dance company, VidaDance, not only to affect change in the dance world, but to affect change in the world with dance. Seven months later, I founded VidaDance Studio, with a mission to inspire confidence and joy through dance. We have a unique youth leadership program, BeyondDance, that we incorporate into our curriculum to help build empowered, capable, and successful students. I am passionate about helping women and men live their very best lives.
Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?
I have so many stories of needing an abundance of grit, especially when I first started my dance studio. After years of dreaming and planning, and then months of hard work to create our online presence, develop a class schedule, plan events, and physically build the sprung dance floor, we finally came to our grand opening day. I arrived at the studio before my husband did because he was making an additional stop to get ice for the drinks we’d be providing. When he came in, he found me standing in the middle of the dance floor crying — then he saw why. There were huge ripples and bubbles all over the flooring. We hadn’t realized that the morning sunlight coming in from the windows would affect the flooring, making it expand and bubble. We were able to use the bags of ice Kevin picked up to cool down the flooring enough for it to settle again. After ending that crisis, we waited for everyone to show up to our exciting grand opening. One family came right at the beginning, but they were friends of ours just trying to show their support. We excitedly waited for more people to come. No one did. It was the most un-grand grand opening we had ever heard of, and was incredibly disheartening.
The next day, we offered an introductory class, and eight little ballerinas showed up to take it. I was delighted, and thought we’d have a great start to the studio since the class went so well. Not one of them signed up for a class afterwards. I’ve had to cancel classes and special events that didn’t get enough students signed up, and there have been months when I’ve barely been able to cover expenses.
Yet through the difficulties and challenges, grit has enabled me to pick myself back up and continue on the path to success. I’ve had a very successful career and have already achieved many of my goals and dreams because grit got me through the hard times.
Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
I am determined that when I fail, I immediately learn from it, and keep moving forward. I knew from the beginning that opening a business would be incredibly challenging, and there would be times when I wanted to give up and close shop. However, I also knew that I possess a strong desire for success, and wanted to prove to myself that I was capable of running a successful business. More importantly, I have taken on the responsibility for other people’s livelihoods as well as their wellbeing, and I have an obligation to my employees and my clients to do my very best everyday. Knowing that I can and do impact people’s lives gets me through the hard times and allows me to keep going.
So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?
Grit is the foundation of my success. I like Angela Duckworth’s definition best: “Grit is passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals.” It means that, no matter how difficult, boring, or frustrating the daily grind can get, I keep going because I am passionate about achieving my goals. With clear direction and a commitment to excellence, I can continue to be successful. Grit enabled me to set aside the disappointment from experiences like my un-grand grand opening and other setbacks and keep moving onward and upward.
So, how are things going today? 🙂
Business is booming! I am consistently obtaining new clients, and the future of my businesses is bright!
Based on your experience, can you share 5 pieces of advice about how one can develop Grit? (Please share a story or example for each)
- Practice grit daily. We all face challenges on a daily basis. Refusing to give up when you don’t feel like doing something, and just doing it anyway can be practiced in little ways all the time. For example, very few people enjoy washing the dishes, and many people leave them to sit in the sink, sometimes for days at a time. Instead of hoping someone else will eventually do them, take the initiative and do the work even when you don’t feel like it (maybe especially when you don’t feel like it).
- Establish goals. When you have exciting goals that you’re working towards achieving, it’s a lot easier to develop grit. Set measurable goals for yourself and then set aside time every day to work on them. Give yourself realistic deadlines and commit to meeting them. If you’ve been wanting to read more, give yourself the goal to read one new book every month. Schedule 20 minutes every day that is solely devoted to reading. Whether you feel like reading or not on a particular day, do it anyway.
- Be bold. Grit requires courage. It’s important to be fearless in your pursuit of your dreams and goals, because there will be many times when they won’t feel worth the effort and frustration necessary to achieve them. You’ll be scared to take the next leap of faith sometimes, but you need to do it anyway. When I was interested in working for a local community college to teach dance, I noticed that they were currently not offering any dance classes. I sent an email, proposing the idea of developing and teaching dance courses, even though I wasn’t sure if I was qualified or ready for that step in my career. Not only did they answer my email proposing the idea, but a phone interview, panel interview, and class demonstration later, I became an adjunct professor at the college and created a dance program which is still going strong after five years.
- Develop a growth mindset. Having the willingness and desire to continue learning throughout your life will carry you further than you ever thought possible. Be humble enough to admit when you’ve held an incorrect belief, and nurture a culture of continual growth in your life. I love learning and taking on new challenges, and I’m eager to develop my skills in areas in which I’m weak or unknowledgeable. Possessing a strong growth mindset has allowed me to cultivate grit when I need to obtain a new skillset in order to be successful.
- Practice gratitude. Life gets really tough sometimes and it is easy to complain when things don’t go the way you hoped. Gratitude and grit go hand-in-hand. When you can express gratitude for the good that is in your life (and there is always something for which to be grateful), you can more easily move past the frustrations and keep moving forward. My mother always told me to count my blessings, especially when I felt like complaining, and embracing that habit has gotten me through very challenging seasons.
Developing grit really boils down to this simple concept: do the thing. Whatever it is you need to do, whether that’s send an email or make a phone call or finish a chore or anything else, just do the thing. It doesn’t matter how you feel about it. If it’s something you need to get done, do it. No excuses and no procrastination.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped you when things were tough? Can you share a story about that?
My husband is my biggest cheerleader. He is always there to offer support, guidance, creative ideas, technical know-how, and perspective. He’s the one who first encouraged and pushed me to accept an opportunity to produce a show five years ago, which became the spark that lit the fire of my entrepreneurial journey. One story that stands out occurred at the very beginning of my professional dance company. Our premiere show was coming up quickly, and at the last minute, a dancer was injured and couldn’t perform. I needed to replace the piece in order to complete the program, but didn’t have enough time to teach a whole new one to any of the other dancers, who were already in multiple pieces. Kevin came up with a concept for a piece to fill the gap where he could utilize his juggling skills but not have to dance, and performed with the company in all four shows. Not only did he save the day, but he went way above and beyond his comfort level in order to help me be successful. He’s amazing!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
One of the most important things in my life is giving back. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, but I’ve had a lot of help along the way, and it’s vital to me that I pay that forward. I consistently mentor young professionals, I volunteer at various community events, I organize and produce a free dance performance for Kansas City every year that brings together KC’s dance community, I sponsor four children overseas, and much more. I believe that we have an obligation to bring goodness to the world in any way that we can every day. Even a simple smile can have a significant impact on someone’s life.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am always working on exciting new projects! I am currently writing a series of children’s books to promote self-confidence, leadership, hard work, and the entrepreneurial spirit. I l also love creating online courses to promote wellbeing. Some of my upcoming projects include creating more dance courses, a Morning Stretch Routine course, and additional mindset wellness courses. I hope they touch people to understand, accept, love, and better themselves!
What advice would you give to other executives or founders to help their employees to thrive?
My advice for executives to help employees to thrive starts with creating a positive work culture. Here are my top five suggestions to do just that:
1) Encourage collaboration. Many heads are better than one. I am limited by having only my own mind at my disposal. By encouraging collaboration, I am able to open myself up to brilliant new ideas I would never have come up with that can propel the company to greater success.
2) Encourage laughter. I love laughter! I am all about promoting joy in the workplace. It goes without saying that the happiest and most productive workplaces are the ones that encourage laughter. I always say that we take our work seriously, but not ourselves. This allows us to work and create in a way that is positive and encouraging.
3) Encourage leadership. The best leaders are the ones who promote the leadership of others in their workplace. When the director of a company is willing to let others create and inhabit positions of leadership, he or she is promoting the betterment of the company as a whole.
4) Encourage friendship. I love the moments when I look over and see a group of my employees talking and smiling. I strongly encourage my employees to form deep bonds with each other when they click. When employees get along, they work together better, and are more eager to come in to work every day. It’s a win-win for everyone!
5) Encourage constructive criticism. I do not always make the right decisions. My favorite employees are those who aren’t afraid to question a decision I’ve made if it doesn’t make sense, fit with the company values, or steer us toward a great future. I have an open-door policy so that all my employees feel comfortable providing me with constructive feedback.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
If I could inspire people to start a movement, it would be a campaign to ignite kindness and empathy towards all humans. The “pay it forward” movement would occur daily. Each of us would have enough confidence in our self-worth to understand that everyone is going through challenges. Instead of being unreasonable, disrespectful, or unkind, we would find daily reasons to pay the love forward. It would promote a lifestyle of empathy, kindness, and compassion. This movement would literally change the world.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
My favorite life lesson quote is quite straightforward! It’s simply, “Onward and upward. Good things are coming.” It has been the quote I come back to consistently, especially when times are tough, and it seems like nothing is going the way I had hoped. Coming back to “onward and upward” reminds me of several important lessons:
- I have the power to choose positivity in this moment
- My life’s trajectory is moving forward and higher
- Nothing is going to hold me down and back
- I will continue to do good things with my life as I grow
- I expect that good things will be coming to me
It is a re-centering motto that serves to lift me up and ensure I look forward to my future, and it’s perfect for the subject of grit.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
I can be found on Instagram and Facebook at lindseydinneenofficial.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.