Suyin Aerts
June 5, 2020

Run Forest Run

In 1994 the movie Forrest Gump started with a feather falling from the sky. A strong image for the dancer I was at that moment. Moving, light as a feather, on that stage was what they thought us. The key strength of a dancer however, in my opinion, is being agile, having a very strong core and being able to play with rigidity on one side and at the same time move as flexible as a human body can do.

When you work with other dancers you learn a lot about rhythm. We all have a different rhythm deep inside; you better accept this when you work with a team of people striving to reach the same goals.

As dancers during improvisation we were often asked to move without rules, without a choreography, move alone, move together and sometimes even without music. This really helps to understand your own rhythm and it allows you to create ways for the core feelings inside your body to come out and it makes you realize that depending of the person in front of you the reaction will be totally different.

Another strength that I can now use as a company leader but also of course as an interviewer and moderator.

When was the last time you were asked to improvise in your job? Do you sometimes use scenario thinking? Try it, it will bring you that flexibility you need to act when suddenly the plan is gone. When it is about smart improvisation and keeping your teams motivated in uncertain times when more than ever you want them to work from their core strengths, but you also want them to be open minded and improvise with you as a project manager and with the other team members.

When you dance as a couple, we all know it takes 2 to tango.

When you dance as a couple or a group on stage, those hearts do not beat together, but when you are able to get them in synch that is when you can create the magic.

Is that not the same magic you want to create for your customers and for the people in your team?

A synchronised heartbeat concert that does not cost more effort than needed and that creates an unforgettable experience.

For that concert you will need a conductor when we talk about music, for that dance you need a choreographer.

In business we also need the same! Creative, authentic, and inspiring leaders.

But the most beautiful things, in my opinion are reached when you can bring improvisation and preparation together. Think about a jazz concert for example, think about good TV shows, they are all prepared, but the leaders of the conversation can let the preparation go and trust their creativity.

Agility is about having a core but staying flexible.

Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker was the first person that made me experience how much my knowledge in maths helped me to be able to read in between the lines when you use music. Yes, you need to be able to read the lines first and know the rules in music, but what if you could read in between the lines?

Being able to change focus from one line to another is also a core strength for a business leader that works with other people. Sense what they need, listen to what they do not say.

It made me realise that after all combining studies and top sport (as that is where we should catalogue dancing) is maybe not such a bad idea.

The art consists of becoming that feather, like in the movie Forest Gump, that when the bus pulls away is caught on a breeze and drift skywards.

Or as Adèle for the James Bond movie Skyfall sings: ‘…hold your breath and count to ten, feel the earth move,…but when it crumbles we will stand tall and face it all together”

This blog was written for as Marc Ernst, asked me about my thoughts on agility as a business leader being a former dancer.

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