Good or Great

I was hooked on the Winter Olympics.  I love watching speed skating, hockey and snowboarding and I think those ski jumping fools are tremendous!  But I really, really love ice skating.

I’m old school when it comes to ice skating; give me a traditional long program or pairs skating any day of the week.  Naturally, I was skeptical about ice dancing.

But, my mom always told me that when I am skeptical, I should open my mind to the whole picture and watch with inquisitiveness before I pass judgment. So that’s what I did the weekend of ice dancing, and not only did I really enjoy watching the sport, I took away these performance tips:

The closer you are together, the higher the risk and result

Having never “really” danced with someone (other than the Jitterbug in High School with a dreamy boy who eventually broke my heart), I can’t tell you how difficult it is to synchronize your feet with your partner’s feet.  But apparently, it’s very difficult and when you put blades on your feet, it’s also quite risky.

However, when you work together, when you strive to co-exist in the activity, when you anticipate each other’s thoughts and movements, when you give and take symbiotically, and when you accept the risk without remorse, the result is fantastic!

Taking full advantage of similarities and differences yields greater performance

In ice dancing, the man “lifts” the woman and spins her around, balances her on his shoulders or legs, etc. all while he is skating around in circles.  Petite women give the couples quite the advantage as they can more easily be swooped up and twirled around than the taller women.

On the other hand, a pair that has a woman whose height rivals the man’s height can take full advantage of the “reflective” quality during the dance moves and the Twizzles (a term I just learned and love already cuz it’s fun to say).

Similar features in the couple like the length of arms, elegance and flow of movement, etc. can be capitalized on in the choreography.  Likewise, stark differences such as hair color, facial expressions, power and grace can be utilized to create something unique and edgy.  In the end, ultimate success relies upon the appreciation of both the similarities and differences of the individuals as well as the courage to capitalize on them.

Having fun begets better performance

There was a stark contrast from the ice dancers who were stressed out, under too much pressure, or who were over-thinking things to the ones who were comfortable with the situation and loved (more than they worried about) skating, dancing and performing.

We all have a love for something and when we allow ourselves the opportunity (even if it’s only for a little while) to do it, when we pour our efforts and our hearts into it, and when we allow the passion and the “fun” to enter into it, we will undoubtedly perform better at it.

Showing emotion is a good thing

Anger, tears, frustration…joy, excitement and elation…all of these emotions were surely felt on the ice.  However, only a few skaters showed these emotions.  Many skaters were so “stoic” that the result was a failure to connect with the audience or the judges.

We are human beings and therefore, we have feelings.  Authenticity doesn’t mean we need to blubber about everything that upsets us, nor does it mean we have to be manically happy just because something good happened.  But showing our emotions, wearing our heart on our sleeves, allowing for some genuine smiles and vulnerabilities will help us relate to our colleagues, will help them relate better to us, and will ultimately increase our performance and our results.

Always charming and often quirky delivers smiles every time

Ice dancers need points to win.  Judges give points.  Enchanted or delighted judges give more points.  Therefore, ice dancers who enchant or delight the judges will get more points.

Pairs who stuck to the books, who were robotic in their gestures, and who focused only on technical aspects didn’t win.  Pairs who literally “danced” their way to their starting marks, who did “quirky” and creative things together on the ice, who were playful and encouraged the judges and the crowd to join them in the “game” received the highest scores.

Is this not what performance and service is all about?  Don’t we all have to engage our “judges”?  Don’t we all have to encourage our stakeholders’ active participation and satisfaction with what we are providing?  Don’t we all need to be charming all of the time and quirky from time to time to win someone over, or to repair a damaged relationship?  You know the answer is yes!

And now I hope you know that Ice Dancing is indeed a sport, and that it gives us some pretty powerful lessons regarding the difference between GOOD and GREAT performance!

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Today’s post is from guest blogger Heather Kinzie.

Heather KinzieHeather has been a Human Resources professional for nearly 20 years.  She likes to make things better so she develops/presents training courses and facilitates team/process/strategy improvement events.  Her clients benefit from her expertise and her insight but moreover, they appreciate her pragmatic and often brutally honest thoughts, concerns and suggestions.  Heather comes with tons of energy and laughter, but she also comes with quirks, truth and the occasional storm of swear words. :)


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