Dancing As Long As I Can

I recently came across an essay in NPR’s “This I Believe” series that was written by Robert Fulghum, author of “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” The piece was entitled “Dancing All the Dances As Long As I Can.” In it, Fulghum speaks of a passion of his, dancing, and what it means to him. He relays a recent enthusiasm for tango, and his initial intimidation to try it. However, he thought back to an earlier time when he’d chosen to “stay on the sidelines” when the dancing began after a village wedding on the Greek island of Crete.

The fancy footwork confused me. “Don’t make a fool of yourself,” I thought. “Just watch.”

Reading my mind, an older woman dropped out of the dance, sat down beside me, and said, “If you join the dancing, you will feel foolish. If you do not, you will also feel foolish. So, why not dance?”

And, she said she had a secret for me. She whispered, “If you do not dance, we will know you are a fool. But if you dance, we will think well of you for trying.”

This statement got me thinking… How many times are we thought to be fools because we let our fears of appearing foolish keep us from trying something new? Not only that, how often do we miss out on finding something we actually love doing because we’re too afraid to even try it?

In February of this year, I met the owner of a local business development center at a networking event. He was setting up a social media seminar series, and asked me if I would be willing to speak about the relevance of social media to business owners. While I had given presentations at work in the past, it was always to people I knew. The idea of speaking in front of a bunch of people I didn’t know scared the heck out of me! But I’ve been prayerfully building my business by stepping through the doors that open for me, so I said “yes” even though I had reservations about it.

That was one of the best decisions I’d made since starting my business. Since then, I’ve spoken an average of 3 times per month at various locations to different groups; all of which is free publicity for my business. Each engagement has led to new clients and prospects and, if nothing else, it’s ensured that people know what I do and recognize me the next time we run into one another somewhere. As you know, the sales process requires multiple “touches” before a prospect is ready to buy from you, and this has definitely been a means of shortening that process.

So, what have you been sitting on the sidelines avoiding? What’s outside of your comfort zone that you probably should be doing? What are you afraid to try that might actually be a blessing to you or your business? If you feel inclined, leave a comment below and share what it is. Then, screw up your courage, realize that you’re going to feel foolish whether you face your challenge or not, and determine to make people think well of you for trying! And while you’re getting started, consider this quote from VaroTango. “There are no wrong moves in tango, only new ones.”


  1. Pat Montgomery says

    Terrific post and I could not agree with you more! If I had not stepped WAY out of my comfort zone 4 years ago, I would not be doing my radio show. And I love doing that show. So many times when an opportunity to stretch presents itself to us, we don’t shake its hand. But we should because we never know where it will lead. So what if we fal on our faces? We learned something we can use in the next meet and greet with opportunity.

    • I totally agree! I’m taking on a project that’s distinctly outside my comfort zone right now. I’d forgotten how fun it can be to feel excited, exhilarated and scared all at the same time!

  2. Loved your post! Too many people go through life, but never live it, because of fear of trying new things or following their dreams. I never look back, only ahead to the next challenge. It’s the only way.

    • Thanks, Pam! I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. I’ve learned to just take the next step, regardless of my fears. In most cases, the worst that can happen is a little bit of embarrassment. And if things go well, I’ve had an adventure! 🙂

  3. Great post Tara. Sorry I’m so late getting to read it. We all risk too much by failing to take a chance. Your post encourages. Thanks for not staying on the sidelines.


  4. Love the analogy – especially the part that if you stand on the sidelines you will feel foolish and if you dance you’ll feel foolish, so why not dance? That urge to do something is a kind of discomfort just as feeling foolish is. But when we let the discomfort of feeling foolish win we gain nothing, except perhaps a new regret.

  5. Daniel Freschi says


    Great analogy! It’s perfect for where I am at with my life right now. Do I dance? Well, I wish it was the answer was as easy as it may appear. While I am not afraid of being seen a fool, I am afraid of not providing for my family. Is that foolishness? Tough decisions.

    • I can totally relate to where you’re at, Dan. Not all music stirs our souls, compelling us to dance. Find the music that speaks to you, feel the rhythm and dance! Or, in plainer terms, find the things that inspire you and that you are passionate about, identify a means of earning a living at them, and leap out in faith! It’s easier said than done, but doable. I have a family too that I must provide for. For me, that just pushes me to try harder and gives me a greater sense of urgency. The result is, the music that stirs me now is more expressive, driving and urgent. But, not so long ago, my favorite dances were the fox trot and waltz, more flowing, peaceful and lyric!

  6. Hey, loved this! “Be brave” are great words to live by; so often we forget that it’s better to try and look a little silly, than sit out and be a wall flower!

    • Thanks, Cat! I’m glad you enjoyed it. A little bravery goes a long way! I also find it helps to think of “what’s the worst that can really happen?” For the most part, it’s only our pride that’s at significant risk. Everything else is manageable!

  7. Shawn Murphy says

    Tara, fantastic analogy between dancing and risk taking. The only way to find the rhythm in whatever we do is to be part of it.

    Excellent reminder for all of us to recognize that sitting on the side lines watching the dance is a choice – a choice at odds with accomplishment.

    • Thanks, Shawn. Not only is it a choice at odds with accomplishment, but once we find the rhythm, it makes us feel good too, both about what we’re doing and where we’re going.

      The same is true in business. If we’re struggling to do something we “should” be doing, but we don’t feel free to do it (our mindset says “we’re not gifted to do it,” “it’s not my job,” “I don’t want to do this”), we miss out on the pleasures of accomplishing something new and overcoming the challenge. Our mindset is the only limiting factor then.


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