I remember when I was terrible at dancing. I mean objectively bad. I was clueless when it came to technique, rhythms, vocabulary, and movement. When the music started to play, I froze—stifled by the fear of my own incompetence.
We all start here—a place of not knowing. You may be here now. Don't worry; it's normal. Even prodigies were beginners in disciplines in which they now excel.
I am in that novice state once again—directing a national nonprofit with hopes of scaling its reach a hundredfold. With no background in nonprofit management, I'm a terrible candidate for the job. The only thing that has kept me moving forward is faith. Luckily, that's all I've ever needed.
When I started the dance style of popping in 2003, my mentors told me to practice technique for at least 15 minutes each day. As a college student who juggled problem sets and all-nighters, finding time to focus on dancing every day was tough. But I truly believed the daily effort would produce results. I practiced on the train, in lecture halls, and walking back to my dorm. Was I better after a week? I wish. A month? No. But after a few years, I progressed to a level that far surpassed what I thought possible. The work—the repetition, the grind, the hustle—was undeniably part of my success. However, while the work ethic is usually the highlight in stories of success, the ability to maintain that effort came from faith in the process.
Not understanding the necessity for faith is why a lot of people lose. It's why there is an overabundance of books on success and a small percent of people actually achieving it. The roadmap is straightforward: work hard, be consistent, provide value, leverage your strengths, evaluate, make adjustments. The difference is that some believe the directions will get them where they want to go while others spend time looking for shortcuts.
Even today, when people take my class and ask how to get a cleaner hit or a smoother wave, I give the same advice I received 14 years ago. "Practice 15 minutes before going to bed each day". Sometimes, I am disheartened by their response—which is usually an unsatisfied pause and anticipation that there is some secret I'm not revealing. I can tell these people don't believe me —or don't believe enough in themselves to do the work. And I know they will come back week after week wondering why they aren't progressing.
So, how do you increase your faith? I wish I had a definite answer here, but truthfully, I’m not sure. You can attempt to will yourself to faith by taking a massive amount of action. You can listen to other people’s stories who came from similar circumstances. You can read books or talk to a counselor. Eventually, you have to let go of your doubts and place your trust in the right principles. It is this kind of faith that gives me excitement about being a bad leader now— it’s only a temporary state. I’ve been shown the path to growth, I believe in it, and it just so happens I have an extra 15 minutes to spare each day.