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  • Writer's pictureupstagecenterpa

I Can't

I was teaching recital choreography to a pre-teen class and demonstrated a step. Behind me, I heard immediately “I Can’t!” I turned around and said – yet, you can’t yet. The words I can’t were repeated by the same students. I was then asked to change the step. I refused. Why?

I explained to them that although the step was new, they hadn’t allowed me to break it down for them and they hadn’t given themselves time to even TRY. They had the foundations to perform the new step. It was new because they hadn’t done this particular sequence of skills together.

A dance studio owner friend shared this acronym with me:

C – urrently

A – am

N - not

T – Trying

“Can’t is a swear word in our studio,” says Patti Johnston, studio director at Core Dynamics Pilates & Dance. “It is not allowed. Period."

Patti explains that when the phrase I can’t is first heard, the teachers explain to the group that when we repeatedly say I can’t, our body hears it and believes it. “We give them alternatives to use that don’t sound so final. They can say this is hard, I don’t understand yet or my personal favorite – I’m having some technical difficulties!”

In a world of social media and instant gratification, children often spend too much time looking at perfect finished products and rarely see the work behind it. “They aren’t inspired – they only compare themselves to what they see, “says Jessica Gwozdz, a studio owner in Massachusetts.

Other studio owners tackle an I Can’t mindset with coaching working, teaching students to work on success stacking, confidence, perspective and self-belief.

“I can’t” belongs to a quitting mindset. The number one reason we quit something is embarrassment. Dansations in a recent blog states that quitting can become a negative behavior cycle that continues into adulthood. To stop a kid from quitting (or saying I can’t) is to save them from going down a slippery negative slope.

Quitting may feel good at the moment - kids who don’t progress as quickly as they want stop trying. Learning to work through the process, to set a goal and to return the next week to continue are life lessons. We all make mistakes. Sometimes we have to work harder than our friends. “Becoming good at something requires commitment to get through the learning curve” (Dansations)

When facing a tough spot, it is important to remember that this challenge may lead us to something better. Instead of saying “I Can’t” try these tips from Mark Lynch, life balance and personal development author:

1) Persistence – “If you are the type of person who gives up in the face of a challenge, chances are you won’t get far. If you think “I can’t do it” and then give up, obviously you won’t succeed. You need to remember that success comes through your persistence.” (Lynch)

2) Acknowledge the challenge – it is a part of life and accepting a challenge will help you work toward a solution.

3) Get comfortable with discomfort – when you want to say “I Can’t” remember that true growth doesn’t sit in comfort. Ever heard the phrase – get out of your comfort zone?

4) Stay positive – don’t be hard on yourself when you can’t get something right the first time. Remind yourself of a goal you accomplished and how you felt.

5) Break the challenge down into steps or parts – work on the new dance step a section at a time. The end result will come as you master the parts. You are still working toward the goal, just not eating the whole elephant at one time.

6) Remember your why – why did you start this journey in the first place? To learn? To grow? When your vision gets foggy, remember why you started in the first place.

PS- Asking your teacher for help is also a great idea😊

Next time you want to say I can’t turn it into – I just need to figure it out! Remember the example I used at the beginning of this blog? The students came back the next week excited to show me how they had practiced and improved on that step. By recital time, it will look well-rehearsed and well executed. Because THEY CAN!

Dansations blog:

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