“Dance to what is” is an expression I apply to and share with individuals in all aspects of my life — family, friends, and co-workers. A co-worker from my days as a marketeer at the former Bay State Federal Bank, a community bank acquired by a larger bank in 2004, shared this with me. The expression wasn’t his invention, but he told me the story of how a friend of his found himself on a business trip in a less-than-glamorous location. While the friend would have rather been in NYC or some place more exciting, he decided to make the best of being in a rural town by fully engaging in the activities going on at the local bar.
I loved this story and expression so much, I started sharing it with co-workers in situations where I felt we needed to “dance to what is”. For example, as many of us have learned throughout our careers, senior management at an organization have the final say on various matters. We may not always agree with their decisions or pronouncements, but we have to execute them. “Dancing to what is” means not spending a lot of time trying to change things we can’t change, i.e., accepting things and moving forward vs. spending time crying over what employees may consider “wasted” work or time. But most importantly, “dancing to what is” means “making the most of whatever situation you find yourself in”. You wish you were in Paris, but find yourself in a much more modest location. Make new friends, visit the local ketchup museum, and learn what makes that area special. There is fun and learning to be had in almost all situations if you are open to them.
As I look to establish my own marketing, communications, and research firm after 30 years employed in the financial, healthcare, market research, and higher education industries, and to launch successful marketing and communications activities for clients, the foundation to my approach will be recommending strategies and tactics that “dance to what is”. I believe any strategy and tactics selected should be founded on research, i.e., on an understanding of what is really going on; in other words founded on “what is”. For example, are sales off because of pricing, quality, poor service, or undesirable product or program features? Are the wrong prospective customers being targeted? Are the wrong media being used to reach those target audiences?
Saying “it is what is” has an air of resignation to it, but “dancing to what is” means enjoying and celebrating as you really pay attention to the music that is being played.