A few months ago, on an idle Tuesday afternoon, I received a call from my friend, Bob Teska, a CPA at Bowers and Company in Syracuse, NY. He was proud to say he’d been recently elected to the board for Syracuse Habitat for Humanity. The last 25 years, Habitat has built or renovated 60 non-profit houses that were sold to selected families through interest-free mortgages.
Bob was “dialing for dollars,” contacting his circle of influence, recruiting male volunteers for Habitat’s largest fundraiser of the year, “Mr. Habitat.” He asked if I would donate my executive coaching and leadership services for the auction. All I had to do was dance the runway to my music of choice. I told him I’d love to do it.
After I hung up, I decided I must be out of my mind! I never dance in public because I’m 6’5”, I stick out like a sore thumb, and feel like my dance moves are on a par with Elaine from “Seinfeld.” I considered backing out, but this was such a great cause, I knew I would follow through.
Well, if I was going to strut my stuff in public, I needed a cool piece of music to camouflage my inadequacies. I chose the catchy, upbeat Maroon 5 hit, “Moves Like Jagger.” I began my choreography, playing the tune over and over and refining my moves. I gained confidence and soon felt the urge to spice things up. I searched You Tube and added a hip- hop move to my routine, making things up as I went along. I couldn’t see myself during practice, but what I was creating felt respectable.
I strolled into the “Mr. Habitat” event at the Sheraton Syracuse University Convention Center on this warm November evening. The whole day I channeled fellow coach Maria Nemeth’s mantra to embrace the moment: with clarity, focus, ease and grace. I mingled with the crowd of hundreds, trying to convince them to bid high and often on my services for this great cause. I made a point of letting them know I couldn’t dance.
“Go have a drink!” was a piece of advice I received more than once, but I knew alcohol wouldn’t help. I did encourage everyone else, however, to have one more libation, hoping it would enhance my overall performance, in their eyes.
Backstage, there were about seven male compatriots ahead of me. I worked off my anxiety by rehearsing in the halls, getting strange looks from the kitchen help as they prepared hors d’oeuvres.
When my turn came, local personalities Ted and Amy of 93Q announced to the crowd, “And now here’s Steve Borek, executive coach at End Game Business! Let’s hear it for him!” I hopped on the runway to the loud sounds of ♪♪ Just shoot for the stars, if it feels right and aim for my heart ♫. I was in the zone! I’d been in the zone several times playing sports and it’s a special place. Everything gets quiet, I’m at peace, and movements feel like slow mo. The dance was effortless.
After my services were auctioned off to Ann Goutremout, the owner of Studio 11 in Cicero, NY, I jumped off the runway and was congratulated by fellow volunteers waiting in the wings. What a rush! I walked out and to my amazement, several folks in the crowd complimented me on my performance. “Steve, you can really dance.” I was stupefied!
During the evening I had several “coaching moments. I learned that being in the land of complacency is a terrible place to be. I hadn’t challenged myself in some time and I was playing it safe. On this night, I scared myself and I grew in the process.
I also learned I’m not qualified to assess myself. As with clients, many times you can’t see the forest for the trees.
Last, when you have a finite amount of time to achieve an extraordinary and unfamiliar goal, without any prior experience, you can succeed. Believe me, I’m dancing proof.
To learn more about Syracuse Habitat for Humanity call 315.422.2230.
Photo courtsey of Caityln Bom Photography.