Lessons from Strictly

Strictly Come Dancing, where have you been all my life? Or rather, where have I been all of yours?! As a recent Strictly convert, I’ve been both amazed and impressed by the transformations achieved by the celebrities taking part, especially those with no dance experience. As I watched in awe, it struck me that we can all learn some lessons from Strictly!

You could be forgiven for asking if I’ve been living under a rock. I was staggered to learn that this programme has been around since 2004. The truth is that as a professional private tutor, I often work into the evening on a Saturday and before around 9pm, TV simply isn’t on my radar.

First let me give you some background. We celebrated my wife’s 40th birthday over the Christmas period and decided to get away from the hustle and bustle of London for a few days. Having reviewed the logistics of travelling with 3 small children, we decided to visit Blackpool by train.

One afternoon we had a lovely afternoon tea at the Blackpool Tower in the ballroom. As we enjoyed our tea, we watched couples dancing in an almost hypnotic parade around the dancefloor. I was immensely impressed by their elegance and intricate footwork.

And it was this scene that prompted me to check out Strictly for the first time.

It was here that I had my eyes opened to a whole new world of sequins, sweat, skills and passion in abundance!

Transformations aside, and clearly some are more cut out for dancing than others, what struck me most was the sheer hard work and effort expended.

While I know there will be some contestants that are able to devote full-time focus to the competition, there are many others who train around their careers. And it’s these celebs that really piqued my interest.

On top of a working day, often including unsociable hours, the contestants are putting in almost the same amount of time again, diligently training with their partners in the pursuit of perfect 10s.

It’s the pure determination to improve and to be their absolute best that stands out. Most of these people don’t need to be doing the show. Of course, there are some with careers and profiles in need of a boost, but there are many who are taking part for the challenge and potential glory.

And all this in the full glare of millions of viewers!

So, what are the lessons from Strictly that apply in my life, and maybe yours too? The first is that the contestants are in the hands of professionals who nurture, cajole, guide and sometimes outright drag the best from their amateur partners.

This may be why the transformational element of the show resonated with me. It’s very similar to my relationships with my students, where we work on more than pure syllabus content and exam questions. Encouraging them to be their best selves, enabling confidence and seeing the journey through to its destination is part and parcel of my role as their tutor, coach and sometime confidant.

The second element was the volume of work, combined with undiminished enthusiasm which effected such clear and obvious improvements week upon week.

In my professional life, there is a clear link between sustained and structured efforts and great outcomes. Just like Strictly, there are no shortcuts to be had. If the work isn’t done, one is ultimately found out. There’s also a lot to be said for working smart and not just hard.

With the popularity Strictly, which last season apparently had in the region of up to 10 million viewers, I can’t help but wonder how many other people see it the way I do?

Does the message of ‘hard work and dedication equals results’ shine through, or is it lost in the glitz, glamour, tears and all-round excitement?

I’d be interested to know your thoughts.

Meanwhile, I have a TV date with Craig Revel Horwood, darling ?.