What a ballerina taught me about succeeding

Why you need grit to succeed in a job, business and life

Eighteen-year-old Zimbabwean born Tyla Steinbach is a ballerina who has a whole lot of grit.

I know her Mum and have been aware of Tyla’s dedication and commitment for quite some time, and since reading Angela Duckworth’s book, “Grit”, I have found myself thinking of Tyla often.

In a time when people are often unfairly negative towards our amazing young people, I am constantly amazed by the work ethic and determination that many of them display when they want to achieve a goal.

We all need a bit of motivation, and what better way than to read about a person who knows what it means to work hard and sacrifice for what they want to achieve?

Today I would like to share with you four lessons that I have learnt from this young woman.

Lesson 1 – Broaden your skill set

Tyla fondly remembers how she and her sister would choreograph performances for their parents and how she also took up Jazz and Tap in addition to Ballet when they moved to Australia in 2008.

Lesson one is that you do not always have to be so single-mindedly focussed that you ignore other areas in life that you enjoy. Have fun, explore things that you think you may enjoy in addition to what your passion is. It will probably help you to improve your current skill set.

Lesson 2 – Hard work is not always rewarded in the short term

For Tyla, the hard work and dedication started when, at 14 years old, twice a week, she would leave school halfway through the day to put in extra hours at ballet school, in addition to the hours she would spend every day after school.

Lesson two taught me that in an 8-5 culture, you have to know and understand that you will have to put in the extra effort at the start of your chosen path. Often without the recognition, and most of the time without the reward that you are hoping to see. These are seeds of grit that you are planting, and when they sprout you will be the one to reap the rewards.

Lesson 3 – If at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again

Tyla recounts how she competed in the Alana Haines Australasian Ballet Competition in order to gauge what she had to do to achieve what some of her competitors had done.

During a subsequent competition in Sydney, whilst on the Robert and Elizabeth Albert Scholarship, she reached the finals. During this time she also successfully auditioned and was accepted into the prestigious Tanya Pearson Classical Coaching Academy to study ballet full time. This was also a catalyst for having to move from Perth to Sydney in order to pursue her dream of being a full-time ballerina.

Lesson number three – If at first, you don’t succeed, try and try again. For me, failure is when you stop trying and give up. Whilst you are trying you have not failed yet. You have just gained experience, and experience is never wasted.

Lesson 4 – Keep moving the goal posts

In January 2017 Tyla competed at the prestigious *Prix De Lausanne, in Switzerland (*Prix De Lausanne is probably the equivalent of the Olympic Games for Ballet), where she and 33 other girls were picked from 300 entrants. It was during this experience that she was offered 6 scholarships at various ballet schools from around the world. Her choice fell on the well known San Fransisco Ballet School, and she moved to America and started her training in September 2017. She is returning to San Fransisco later this year, having been offered another year as a trainee and hopes to obtain a job as a ballerina at a ballet company.

The fourth lesson that Tyla helped me to remember is: In life, we should not focus so much on the achievement of our goal that we forget to move the goal posts. To use the cliche, ‘Life is not a destination, but a journey.’ A journey starts with a step, it starts with a belief that you can, a hope that you will, and a future where you can see yourself. The courage and resolve that you display, the strength of character that you exhibit as you get there, thát is grit.

If you would like to add any lessons about grit please share your experience in the comment section below.

© Chaleen Botha – All rights reserved

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