Sunday, January 24, 2010

Its Not About Perfection, Its About How You Handle Your Mistakes

As I continue to dance and grow as a dancer, I am struck by how differently people seem to approach their dancing. So many people strive for perfection and yet perfection can be so different, depending on what it is you love about the dance and what your goals are.

I realized that for myself, while achieving perfection is a challenge I can strive for, what's important to me is how well I can handle the unexpected twists and turns on the dance floor.

It would be lovely to live in a world that does not measure how well you do something: where you're not being judged against some standard or high bar. Instead, wouldn't it be more pleasant to focus on how much you've learned and the joy that you share and experience along the way. I believe the mastery of a skill should be celebrated as much as the journey along the way.

I don't deny it. It's great to get 100%. One of my clearest memories during my freshman year at MIT was the fact that I was the 1st one of my freshman friends to get 100% in a calculus quiz. I remember that my fellow freshmen friends looked at me with such respect: I impressed the hell out of them all - me, this chinese girl from the Philippines.

When I'm social dancing, the perfect moment is this indescribable high I get when I have struck an effortless connection with my partner and the music. I'm smiling all the time as my lead plays with our movement so that the expression of it fits hand in glove with the music that's playing. The dancing is effortless, like walking on clouds. And, when the music ends, I'm breathless: not just from the physical dance but from all the fun that I'm having.

I don't always know what's coming in a dance. I still have lots to learn so there are times when I know I missed a cue from my lead or when the his face give away that there was an "oops!" moment. Its a mistake right? Here's the best part - a perfect dance can have those moments but because the connection is so strong, its not really a mistake, it becomes part of the dance. Then, the cherry on the sundae happens when my lead decides to try that missed move again anyway and voila! Magnifique!

I don't always do it well - but I do know that when I can handle my mistakes with humility, grace and humor its wonderful! In fact, I think that perfection might well be re-defined by not just what you achieve but how well you handle your mistakes along the way.


  1. Thank you :) I needed this... You're awesome!

  2. The mistakes often are perfection.

    "Effortless." That, for me too, is the goal - moreso than "perfection." "Effortless" lets me know I am fully present. "Effortless" lets me know perfection is happening, regardless of missed cues, botched leads or incomplete moves.

    It's in the "mistakes" that we realize there was something greater and more beautiful possible than what limited moves we had planned.

  3. "There are no mistakes in dance, only unexpected movements"

    This is a quote, I don't remember by whom or where I found it, that was quite some time ago somewhere in Europe...

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