Learning How to Dance

It was by accident that I learned how to dance. I was posting an apartment for rent on Craigslist one evening and feeling really bored. So, I decided to click on the services section just to see if there was anything else out there that would interest me. In doing so, I stumbled upon an ad posted by a woman who was offering dance lessons out of her house. The price was very good, and so I contacted her and setup a first lesson.

When I met my instructor for the first time, she asked me “what do you want to do?” and I replied “I want to learn how to dance.” That sounds simple enough, right? I had never danced before, and I had no perspective on what dancing was. Sure, I had been to weddings and school dances and other places where there was dancing. A few times, I even went out and… did… something. I never watched dancing. I didn’t know anything about dancing. I just “wanted to learn how to dance” because I saw an ad on craigslist.

Background story aside, here is where things become interesting. My new instructor asked me “what do you want to learn?” and I replied “I want to learn how to dance.” That might sound like it is the same thing, but continue on and you will see that it betrays something very useful that tragically frustrates so many people who dance and who attempt to learn.

When I said “I want to learn how to dance” she did not reply “ok, I’ll teach you how to dance.” She said “ok, I will teach you how to dance Bronze Level American Ballroom Style Cha-Cha.” I was excited to begin. I wanted to know how to dance. She showed me a step pattern on the floor and I began to practice it with her. My first and only private instructor was excellent. There are many good instructors out there in my city, but this one was uniquely a perfect fit for me. For the first two or three lessons, she showed me a pattern and I learned it. After that, I found a ballroom dance website with instructions on patterns and I started taking a list of things I wanted to learn. She merely practiced the pattern with me. I ended up learning a massive number of step patterns very quickly.

My lessons were efficient, but they were also unique. I was very clear that I was not interested in doing anything perfectly—a statement that is anathema to most instructors. She knew what I wanted. I didn’t want to waste time doing something “perfect” because “perfect” might not be “perfect” to someone else. I was interested in finding out how much I needed to learn and I was interested in learning enough to make it so that I could understand any step I saw someone else do, so that I could decide if I wanted to learn it and do it myself. I had asked her “how much is there to learn?” and she said “a lot.” It was very clear to me that no one, not even Google, would definitively tell me “how much” there was to learn. I needed to get a feel for it on my own.

I took lessons from this ballroom instructor for somewhere around 12 months, but only had regular lessons for about 6 months. I started social dancing after about 2 months of lessons. I was not good at it, but I was devouring new patterns everywhere. It took only about 6 months, but I realized that what I was learning was “what” to dance. I began to realize that I wasn’t learning “how” to dance.

I took introductory lessons in all of the American ballroom dances. I danced at ballroom events. Everyone told me I was so good. I knew I was terrible. I knew a lot of steps, but I knew I did not know how to dance. Then, I went to a salsa club, and did not know how to dance. Nothing I knew translated to salsa. I did not even know how to dance cha-cha. I had learned to dance American Ballroom cha-cha and I couldn’t even dance cha-cha in a club setting, because it was different. Since I did not know enough to dance, I learned LA style salsa and bachata. I taught myself to dance the club version of cha-cha. Then I saw a couple dancing Argentine Tango. I knew all of these ballroom styles. I knew the patterns for Latin club dances. I still could not dance Argentine Tango. So, I learned Argentine Tango. Then I went to a West Coast Swing dance. I didn’t know how to do that. Don’t even get me started on the country and modern line dancing. The story goes on and on just like this.

After many iterations, I ended up at a nightclub, but not to dance. I was just watching and socializing. It hit me. I didn’t learn “how” to dance. I couldn’t ask anyone at that nightclub to dance. I knew how to dance Argentine Tango, Foxtrot, Salsa, Bachata, Kizomba, Swing and many more dances, but I didn’t know “how” to dance. I only had learned “what” to dance. The “what” of my learning was admittedly deeper, broader, faster and less expensive than a great many who had gone before me, but I found it kind of impressive that it was just dust on the scales.

In future posts, I will share more about how I learned “how” to dance, and in the free videos linked on this site and (if you wish) the paid content on Udemy, you will see how learning to dance from the top down rather from the bottom up will make you a far better dancer than most, and in much less time.

Practical Advice is Hard to Find

It is very hard to find good information. It is not hard to find people who mean well and want to help. It is not hard to find people who have been successful. It is not hard to find opinions. What is hard to find is good information that is useful and can answer the question of “How do I…?”

Some information is person specific. If you find yourself wanting to start a business and ask a business owner how they got started—hoping to glean some useful information that might point you in the right direction—you might hear a story that you know was unique to the business owner’s life circumstances. If you discover only that the business owner inherited their business or that their employer wanted to retire and asked them to buy it, you cannot really plan to replicate what they did. This kind of information is not bad, but it is not useful.

Other information is too general. Look up “how to start a business” online and you will find advice such as “get an idea, make a business plan and talk to a bank.” That, also, is not the kind of targeted information that you need.

I am willing to speculate that the kind of answer to “how do I start a business” is more along the lines of “how do I generate an idea for a business product or service when I don’t have any ideas?” than it is “how do I incorporate?” Yes, incorporation should be considered, but the real question of “how do I start a business?” is concerned with the major actions that enable discovery of a marketable product or service, the production of that product or service and the profitability and control of that product or service.

To give two more examples of focused questions, it probably also is something like “how do I look at my own life to determine what kind of idea I can turn into a real product or service that I, with my own skills, abilities, finances and connections, can make profitable?” Another real world question would be “how do I find the resources and information that I need to be successful in my business?” These are the kinds of real world questions that you would want to focus on, because to answer these would be to discover the real answers to “how do I start a business?”

The reason for this blog, and for the books, videos and other content that I have produced, is that I have searched intensely for information throughout my life. I have found many answers, but I have also spent a lot of time searching. What I hope to share are the answers and the how-to of searching for the information you need, so that you will not have to search as much, and for as long, as I have.

The questions are always different, but the method is always similar. When I ask “How do I…?” what I really want to know is

  1. How broad is the topic and how do I focus on what I need to know? (i.e. in dance, how much do I really need to learn?)
  2. What are the major areas that concern this pursuit? (i.e. in real estate, how to screen tenants, how to price units, how to determine what to do to a property and what not to so that it is profitable)
  3. Where do I find the resources, people and information necessary to help me answer the question? (i.e. instructors, agents, advisors, contractors, associations, books, etc.)
  4. What changes do I need to make in my life to enable me to pursue something?

Using these four previous questions as a rough guide, here are some of the questions that I have answered for myself:

“How do I build a good life for myself?”
“How do I learn to invest in real estate?”
“How do I make new friends?”
“How do I get a job in my field?”
“How do I climb the corporate ladder?”
“How do I learn to dance?”
“How do I overcome social anxiety?”
“How do I eat to lose weight and control my weight?”
“How do I find good information for my health?”
“How do I overcome weaknesses in my life?”
“What kind of business could I get into?”
“How should I think in order to find the best answers to problems?”
“How can I find answers to problems when I need them?”

There have been so many times throughout my life that I have gone in search of good information and found my resources lacking. I did not have someone who could give me good advice and I could not find the information readily available. I hate to say that I reinvented the wheel, but sometimes, when you cannot find what you are looking for, you need to reinvent the wheel. So, whether you ultimately come to this site for how to select high quality tenants, how to build wealth or how to dance anywhere, I hope that you will see not only information that is focused enough to answer your question of “How do I…?” but also delivered in a way that respects your time. Respect for the amount of time it takes to learn something is very important to me, and I try not to duplicate content or to add filler.