5 Lessons In Discipline From A Professional Ballerina That Will Change The Way You Lead Your Life

by Levita Galinsky

In considering what it takes to attain and maintain discipline, ballet might be the best tool for understanding. It’s like anything else in life that requires effort: time, dedication and determination are compulsory to generate anything near perfection. We all strive for perfection, despite the inherent difficulty involved in obtaining meticulous precision.

If you want an A on an exam, you must apply this formula. It is this combination of time, dedication and determination that creates the constant obedience that yields success in life.

Life is really about routine.

In ballet, we repeat the same exercises every single day. We internally formulate a foundation for our strength and flexibility. This discipline helps out in other aspects of our lives as well. To get washboard abs, routine is vital. Routine is a reliable force that generates a powerfully adhesive base to govern your life. To feel well rested, there needs to be a routine of getting an appropriate amount of sleep.

Habitual practices take a certain level of fortitude and perseverance. Time and effort go into routine, as well: an organized schedule must be present. Soon, routine just becomes an adopted way of life; it is the backbone to your potential success.

Life is all about taking one step at a time, literally and figuratively.

Life is a process — a unique journey for each individual. It is not a clear-cut destination to which we travel. There are roadblocks, and moments of confusion and uncertainty that seem to sporadically control us. Through that alarmingly uncomfortable perplexity, we learn to accept that the way to move forward with strength is by taking one step at a time.

This is how ballet dancers focus their attention. Ballet is a series of progressive movements that requires a chronological way of thinking. You cannot think about the next act before you fully finish your current step. A clear mind (and some sense of passion) will elevate you.

Through time management, ballet helped me organize my life.

On any given performance day, a number of components go into preparation. Rehearsals, makeup, body health, flexibility and a positive mindset add up to successful show. All of these things can create for an awful situation if not correct. But, “correct” means something different for each person. It means being accountable for yourself and your responsibilities and feeling in control. Consider a college student. In order to gain success in college, time management is compulsory.

Students who know how to plan ahead, organize their time and balance their lives are the ones who tend to succeed. Students who do not carry a planner, who do not have time management tendencies, tend to have a tougher time. Children who grow up dancing, especially those who may take several classes each week, must learn to manage their time.

They learn to balance, prioritize, multitask and make sacrifices. In order to succeed in college (or any given career), time management will unquestionably provide you with relief.

Trial and error is valuable concept.

Ballet is all about trying different ways to make movements and techniques perfect for each individual person. This means trying out various combinations until it feels right and looks even better. Like ballet, life is about finding your niche.

You can’t just wake up one day completely self-actualized about yourself and your life. There are waves that you must ride in order to feel like you have achieved something worthy. But remember, a smooth sea never made a skillful sailor. So, with every trial you encounter, you get closer and closer to your desired destination. You can fall flat on your face, even during a performance, but afterward, pull yourself up and keep going.

It’s the ultimate life skill. Keep your head up never quit. Failure is a natural part of life’s process; it means you possessed the courage to try. Learning removes you from your comfort zone and places you in an exciting, innovative territory that you must learn to maneuver. Trial and error is just a method to create discipline for remaining determined when life throws you curveballs.

Life is hard but, but stay smiling.

When it comes to dancing and performing, it’s important to stay happy and smile on stage, both through the fun and the pain. You need to learn to pull off a top-notch performance despite a painful injury or blister.

The same thing goes for life: when it is hard or seems monotonous, just smiling will make you feel better. Smiling is a powerful tool that can trick your brain into altering your thinking. It encourages control over enhancing happiness and buoyancy; smiling will make you feel better clinically.

Photo credit: Black Swan