By Mary Ann Faremouth,
The other day, I received a card that made me smile from a person I had taken a dance class with back in grade school. She wished me a happy birthday and referred to me as a “choreographer of vocations.” Reading the reference, I reflected on the definition of the word choreographer: a person who composes the sequence of steps and moves for a performance of dance. It made me consider what a different dance we all have been doing this past year and more, especially in our careers.
As a lover of music, I began to think of John Michael Montgomery’s “Life’s a Dance.” The chorus compares life to a dance, the steps for which we don’t know until we take them. I have been thinking about this song a lot lately. Without a doubt, we are all having to learn new dance steps as we move forward in the New Work World.
For a moment, let’s reflect on the history of dance. Dance has always been a unique, essential human activity that connects us to the musical rhythms of life. It is an ancient art practiced by almost every culture in every place since the beginning of human society. Dance has been used to mark important rituals and passages in a person’s life, bringing individuals and communities together for a common purpose. And we still dance today, if we’re lucky, in all the different stages of our lives, from senior prom to weddings to celebrations of every kind. Dance is as much for the mind and spirit as for the body; we need it to gain a fuller sense of well-being and connection to others.
And there are so many types of dance: minuets, waltzes, the foxtrot, swing dance, tap dance, the tango, break dancing, the Charleston, the cha-cha, the twist. Your grandparents probably danced differently than you do, and your grandchildren will probably perform dances you have never even heard of. But all these different types of dance make an interesting metaphor for the ways in which we cope with change in our daily lives.
Change can be sparked from within the self or by circumstances outside the self. Change might be terrifying, exciting, or even a little of both. Some folks waltz through these changes, where others might twist and shout. Some steps carry us forward, and some carry us back. And most of the time, we are partnered with others—a spouse, a loved one, a parent or child, a business partner or friend—with whom we must dance skillfully. We must avoid stepping on their toes while protecting our own. We must listen to the music, even as we anticipate the next song that will play.
Regardless of the field you work in, when your career undergoes change, it can sometimes be helpful to step back and reassess the dance steps you have been performing your whole life. Will you continue to dance through your work life in the same way or change up the steps? Will you do more of a line dance, stepping into line with others through networking and joining forums on LinkedIn and other social media? Or will you break-dance and improvise in your job quest by reaching out to different and unique industries to see how your transferrable skills might apply? Or maybe you’ll break with past dance steps and try waltzing into a new dance right where you already are.
It can also be helpful to examine whether the way you dance through change helps you grow and develop. Are your dance moves teaching you solid life lessons? Is the style you’ve been dancing a good fit for who you are now?
Lately, I’ve been reevaluating which dance steps can prove most helpful in the New Work World. Now more than ever in my thirty-plus-year career as a professional recruiter, I spend my time with people who live amid change. Many people have lost their jobs to major downsizing efforts due to the challenges of the past year and more. Some are just graduating from school or professional training. Others are changing careers. No matter the reason, though, all of them are desperately trying to find the perfect next job for them.
As a “choreographer of vocations,” I have, in the past, helped others take on dance steps that might emulate a cha-cha or a salsa: quick-paced and confident. However, these days, in order to deepen and enjoy our lives to the fullest, we might have to slow our steps down to more of a waltz. The steps we take in our job search may have to change significantly.
How are the dances in your life serving you these days? What types of life changes are you dancing through right now, and what types of changes are headed your way? Are you taking the right steps to get you where you want to go, or do you need to change the dance steps you are performing to bring better musical rhythms to your life?
Just like the choreographer creates original dance moves and routines for different performances and productions, you may need to alter your dance steps to fit new situations you find yourself in. To bring yourself into better alignment in your current career dance in the New Work World, don’t be afraid to change your steps. And if necessary, seek the assistance of your own “choreographer of vocations.” No matter what, though, make sure you keep the rhythm going and continue to dance!
Mary Ann Faremouth
Mary Ann holds a CPC (Certified Personnel Consultant) credential, was certified by the Board of Regents of the National Association of Personnel Consultants in Washington, D.C., and was awarded an Advanced Communicator Bronze, Advanced Leader Bronze Awards by Toastmasters. She cofounded Jobs: Houston magazine in 1997. Mary Ann maintains affiliations with professional organizations, including oil and gas, financial, construction, IT, and structural, mechanical, and civil engineering. (www.faremouth.com)
Mary Ann’s award-winning first book Revolutionary Recruiting has been listed by Book Authority as Number #1 Best 100 Recruiting Books; #1 Best Seller, Non-Fiction, Amazon (2019); Top 20 Recruiting books, Recruitics; Readers’ Choice finalist (2019), Houston Literary Awards; Best Non-Fiction (2018), Best Cover (2019), and Best Self-Help (2018), Authors Marketing Guild. Her books support individuals and corporations, tap into each candidate’s unrealized potential to find the right person for each job, maximizing both employee satisfaction and the employer’s bottom line. Mary Ann showcases her expertise of the recruiting world on a monthly podcast for The Price of Business and weekly articles for USA Business. Her new workbook, Revolutionary Reinvention, was recently released on Amazon. Mary Ann lives in Houston, Texas.