Leadership Lessons from Dance – Moments of Pause

Typically when I start my salsa private lessons I talk about how in salsa we take 6 steps within 8 counts and that there are two moments of pause or a breath at the 4 and 8 counts. I point this out first so that as the lesson progresses I can refer back to it when they inevitably speed right through the pause and take a step which then gets them off time.

This week, after I did my usual post lesson follow-up/check-in my student sent the following message:

I need a moment to gather myself. …4 …8 …4 …8 ok I’m good

It was so funny to me because it was an affirmation that the message about the pause st counts 4 and 8 got through! Below are a few ways I emphasize the 4 and 8 counts during a lesson.

  • I count 1,2,3…5,6,7… and whisper the 4 and 8
  • I count 1,2,3…5,6,7… and breathe audibly and deeply or snap to mark the 4 and 8 moments.
  • Or finally, I count 1,2,3…5,6,7… and then emphasize how I push my weight down on the same leg my foot is on during the count prior (3 or 7). Note: This technique also helps get the hips to pop out more. Use the bend of the knee and the pause to emphasize the hip movement.

The more I thought about my student’s comment though the more I realized how cool and ironic it was that even in dance there is emphasize on the importance of taking a moment of pause; taking a moment to recollect yourself, reset, and THEN resume activity.

So often in life (and work) we rush from one activity / project / task / deadline / accomplishment to another and don’t give ourselves a moment to celebrate / reset / acknowledge its completion. This can cause burn out, the sense of being overwhelming, etc. but if we can take a moment to pause, be grateful for who we are and what we bring to the table we can recenter and be in a better headspace to take on the next step with gusto. Note: I talk about the important of pause in my Resilience Tree Model. In the model taking pause is refer to as the roots. The roots consist of activities that ground you, refuel you, and allow you to escape from the race even more a moment.

So, the leadership lessons I learned are:

  • If you don’t pause it will throw you off your routine and cause a ripple / domino effect that will catch up with you eventually
  • Take every step AND every pause intentionally / with purpose
  • Sometimes you need to “hear” a message over and over again before it sinks in.
  • Sometimes you need to “hear” a message from a different perspective before the value of it is realized

Your turn! What are your thoughts, reactions, take-a-ways, or other examples? I always seek to create dialogue so please comment below!


If you liked this blog post please comment and visit others in the series: Leadership Lessons from Dance

*Featured Photo by Annie Liu

2 comments on “Leadership Lessons from Dance – Moments of Pause

  1. A friend of mine has a zen-like explanation of salsa. He says salsa happens in the pause. Take out the pause, and it’s not salsa anymore. Love your example above. Seems true to me.

  2. Thanks, I really need to HEARD this today “”PAUSE””.
    I haven’t been able to dance for the last two weeks, I have FIBROMYALGIA, and sometimes it flare up. Not be able to dance makes me sad and very frustrated, learned to pause is very hard for me, dancing makes me feel alive, and not be able to do it hard.

    Thank you !!

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