Psychological Aspects of Transition, Part 10:
Dealing with Discipline and Motivation
When asked what skills dancers will carry over into a new career, discipline is usually the first quality to be named. But every career field, every business has developed its own culture. Each situation demands its own way of working and has different expectations of its employees. The virtue of discipline, so highly praised in dance, has fallen out of fashion in the rest of society, as it is usually seen as an old-fashioned Prussian virtue (in other words, one that can be traced back to the military). Some contemporary enterprises thus place a high value on employees’ ability to deal mindfully with themselves and find a good work-life balance. This allows them to stay relaxed, i.e. maintain an easygoing demeanor, none of which excludes the possibility of professional success. It is therefore advisable to question your understanding of discipline and to use the term sensibly depending on your professional atmosphere. The concept of “motivation“ has a similar meaning, but is in my opinion more up to date. Many dancers also bring motivation to their work.
In my opinion, dancers are nearly all highly motivated. Their greater than average enthusiasm and commitment has many advantages, but also - as with any character trait which is practiced in the extreme - has a dark side. Commitment involves a great amount of energy which could be used in other areas such as family or self-care, especially with increasing age. These areas experience a lack of energy in the long term, and this can lead to personal injury. At the same, we want those around us to appreciate us when we increase our commitment to work. It’s disappointing when we don’t get the feedback we expect. But maximum commitment may not always be apparent to the outside world. In all probability, dancers will have very good results, even if they reduce their level of commitment. 150% is enough!!! Use the surplus energy for private aspects of your life, which give you joy and energy. This can seem very bizarre , particularly during the first years of transitioning. This change in attitude thus also needs discipline! The discipline of relaxation and limited work! In the long term, you will be able to find a more balanced life.
Text: Heike Scharpff
The text results from project coordinator Heike Scharpff’s (certified psychologist, coach, theater director) many years of experience advising transitions, as well as her collaboration with Katrin Kolo, who has directed our focus on the diverse uses for competencies from dance in our transition workshops.