How to be on top of the career success pyramid

The Dance Moms guide to getting yours.

By Lindsey Myers

I’ve been in hiding for too long; my passion kept under lock and key inside my heart. It’s time to let it out, before it bubbles out from beneath my skin like a freshly brewed kombucha. Here it is: I love Dance Moms. I’ll go as far as saying that it is the best reality television show of all time. I know more about most Real Housewives than some of my family members, keep up with Kardashians, and have looked up every former cast member of Laguna Beach on LinkedIn, but nothing makes my heart sing like cutting from an angelic preteen doing seventeen pirouettes to her mother throwing a diet Pepsi on another women’s statement necklace.

There is more to Dance Moms than just talented children and high stakes drama . At least, to me there is. I’ve gained incredible knowledge from this insane reality empire that I think everyone could apply to their professional life. Allow me to enlighten you with the career philosophies I’ve developed from watching Dance Moms.

1. Look like you’re having fun.

If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. In my mind, confidence is just tricking yourself into believing you can do something. Whether you’re trying to nail an audition, start your own business, get your CPA, or get hired at your dream company — the first step is believing you can do it. Think about it, Chloe would not have won nationals if she was not feelin’ herself!

2. Don’t let anyone take credit for your success.

Even if you get the overall high score in the teen solo category, the journey to the top is rarely a lone one. No matter how hard you work on your own, there are still teachers, friends, colleagues, and mentors who play a part in helping you reach your goals. You should be thankful to these people for their contributions, but never feel indebted or allow them to wear your achievements as their own. Abbey Lee Miller (the show’s sharp-tongued dance teacher) often takes credit for the success of her students, even if she had little to do with it. Don’t stay in a bad work situation because you feel that you owe something to a colleague that’s helped you along the way, and NEVER let someone take credit for your hard work, even if they outrank you.

3. What you do with your choreography (aka education) is up to you.

One ingredient in the recipe for success is the training we receive. It could be hours of tumbling practice to perfect a side aerial, a college degree, or experience gained in jobs or internships. However, another crucial component is attitude. You can bake with the finest flour known to man, but your bread won’t rise without yeast. Translation: your career won’t rise without the right attitude. My precious 14-year-old idol Maddie Ziegler is an impeccably skilled dancer, but what truly sets her apart is the emotion with which she performs. Even before her technique was at the highest level, she blew audiences away with her passionate performances. I’m not saying you should copy her facial expressions in your next pitch meeting, but what I AM saying is that your personality matters! People want to work with kind, smart humans that are enjoyable to be around. In addition to perfecting the skills that allow you to do your job well, make connections with your peers, treat people well, and inject personality into your work (where appropriate).

4. If you skip dance class all summer, don’t expect a solo in the fall.

There is no replacement for hard work. If you want a promotion, raise, or to be highly valued by your colleagues — you gotta hustle. Put as much effort into your 8 hours at work as thirteen-year-old dance celebrities put into getting 8 million Instagram followers. If you want something, don’t stop working until you get it.

5. You can’t have your cake and still fit into your leotard.

My sweet little dance prodigies gave up many aspects of a traditional childhood to become champions. Maybe you want to change careers and don’t have enough experience, so you make financial sacrifices to go back to school or enter that new field at a lower level. Perhaps you want to be a writer and need to move from the Midwest to NYC to make connections and build your resume. It can mean working a dreadful day job to make ends meet and spending nights and weekends hustling to achieve your true passion. Bottom line, if you’re not willing to make some sacrifices to achieve your dreams, you may not be as dedicated as you think.

6. We all fall down sometimes.

Getting a half point deduction when your feathered headpiece falls of is a bummer, but it doesn’t mean you’ll never be on Broadway. While messing up a big presentation or having a new colleague outperform you may seem like the end of the world, it does in fact keep turning. Think of these upsets as an opportunity to redeem yourself by working even harder. Convert your mistakes into fuel for your success engine, like your body is a freaking Tesla.

7. As we go on, we remember…

It’s hard to come to terms with the fact that you’ve outgrown the world of dance competitions, and that it’s time to move on to the unknown world of hit singles, world tours, and mega brand deals. However, part of being successful is knowing when it’s time to close one chapter, and put pen to paper for the next. When you no longer feel challenged, start thinking of next steps to keep moving on your journey to career domination. Determine if you can make changes to improve your current situation or if it’s time to to move on.


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