Season 9 Dancing with the Stars was won last night by Donny Osmond. Donny and his professional partner, Kym Johnson, had just enough talent and overwhelming fan support to edge out R & B singer and the better dancer, Mya. I've been watching Dancing with the Stars for all nine seasons. Many Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. you will find Anna Mason and me glued to the T.V. waiting for our seasonal favorite to dance. But I must admit it's not necessarily because I'm a ballroom dance fanatic or searching for new business lessons blog about; it might have something to do with Karina Smirnoff.
Anyway, the show is not only first-class entertainment, there are many lessons we can learn to apply in life and business from Dancing with the Stars. Here are a few I gleaned from the show:
Team – When the pro dancers and star contestants meet for the first time, they are strangers for the most part. But over the course of 10-12 weeks, they move beyond the point of just being teammates, they are truly friends. The winning couples have developed unity and communication envied in the corporate culture. The better they communicate, the better they dance. The hours and hours of practice, the emotional highs and lows, the successes and the failures, all mixed together have forged a strong, cohesive bond that is the "secret sauce" in winning teams.
- THE POINT: How much better would a business perform with team unity like DWTS? Unfortunately, it's not a "Step 1-2-3" process. If it was, we would all have it in our own workplaces. But the best teams, whether it's in business, sport or dance, have something intangible that makes them special. It's not just one secret ingredient, but the combination of several ingredients being mixed together. If one ingredient is missing, the magic doesn't happen.
Commitment – The stars of DWTS have to commit to months of total dedication to the show. Whatever life they had prior to the show is put on hold for this TV reality competition. It takes tremendous focus and an extraordinary amount of hard work to accomplish the goal of winning the Mirror Ball Trophy.
- THE POINT: There are times in life and in business when there has to be "laser-like" focus on a single objective. While the other demands of life and business don't go away during this period of time, those demands have to become somewhat secondary. For this "moment in time," whether its days, weeks, or months, this chosen objective has to become a priority above all others. All schedules, decisions and choices are filtered by one question: Does it move you closer to the objective?
Learning Process – Each week the contestants have to learn one or more new dances. Many of the stars have little or no dance experience. After each dance the teams are critiqued. Sometimes harshly, but always honestly and with good intentions. The stars that can stomach the harsh criticism without getting their feelings hurt, go back to the studio, make the necessary changes, and come back winners.
- THE POINT: If we are to grow personally and professionally we have to continue to learn new things. It might be required by circumstances at work; like taking on a new position or getting trained on new equipment. Or it could be by a choice; like annually taking classes at the local college or a self-study course. Sometimes we may need "shock therapy" in the form of constructive criticism to change bad habits or learn new ones. But look around at those who are always moving forward. Aren't they always in an effort to improve themselves by changing their ways or learning new things?
Presentation – With the costumes, makeup, and spray-on tans, the dances are all about presentation. A large supporting cast and crew does a great deal of work behind-the-scenes to make the dancers look their very best. Combine that with the hours and hours of dance practice to perfect each arm motion and toe point, the winning team doesn't overlook any aspect of the presentation.
- THE POINT: A lot of work has to be done behind-the-scenes and combined with hours and hours of preparation for a business to project an appealing image. It doesn't just "happen." You have to MAKE it happen. Sometimes we think just showing up Monday through Friday will "make" it happen. But that's what your competition does. What are you going to do get all 10's from your judges, the customer? You can bet it's got to be more than just show up.
So maybe you won't read this stuff at Harvard Business School. But what fun way to watch the likes of Karina Smirnoff and pick up some ideas for team building.
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