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On Our Toes

Updated: Feb 20, 2023

Holding THAT image, father's dancing on stage at theirs child's recital, will not only help us open doors for ourselves and others… it will keep us all on our toes! I assure you… no easy feat.


Finding I was out of cocoa for a dessert I was making I assumed a quick trip to Kroger was all I needed.

  1. Greeted instead by a Mother Hubbard moment, options immediately rushed my brain: find a clerk to ask if there was more in the back

  2. Go to another store

  3. Jump

I chose the latter.

Cocoa is a “top shelf” item and I hoped that maybe MY box had slid to the back. Score!

But I couldn’t reach it, because it had fallen to the backside of the shelf on the other aisle. Sprinting around to the other side, I noticed a pair of tongs on a rack they had hanging off a shelf… perfect! Still not quite tall enough, I awkwardly “danced” (well, jumped-ouch) on my tiptoes a few times, pulling the precious product toward me.


Driving home I had a flashback…

Earlier this month I watched my niece, Rachel dance on her toes (a far cry from my pitiful Kroger performance). I’ve been a proud member of her audience for years, but that was my first seeing her “en pointe.” And I was in awe, once again, at the way she moved her body… in space…. across the stage. The grace, power and strength she displayed drew me in, touched my soul and…. brought me to tears. I wondered how the students she’s been pitted against in Spanish or Algebra would fair if they were graded on her kind of “points.” My guess is that most would land closer to the elf dads (more about them in a minute).

Without a doubt…. dance is Rachel’s gift, her passion and now… her future calling.

Because I learned last week that it’s not just me who recognizes her talent and knows that the world needs to see her shine. The American Music and Dance Academy in Los Angeles, CA; a highly competitive school where the professors are all either former or current dance professionals… has accepted her.

And that news also brought me to tears.

She has spoken often of her dream of moving to LA after graduation… to dance. No one, myself included, knew exactly how that would or could happen. But Rachel has “held her image” and this door has opened.

Holding an image is a powerful and necessary part of door opening; something we MUST do for ourselves and we CAN do for others.

Rachel’s recent dance recital served up a perfect, yet unlikely example of that… elf dads. Let me just say, men dressed in red and green elf costumes was NOT what I expected. And “no” they really couldn’t dance. But… they did serve three very important roles:

  1. Brute strength; moving set pieces and lifting dancers (their daughters).

  2. Entertainment value; priceless!

  3. Peak creation; for everyone.

There was something about dads dressed as elves, who were willing to “leave it all on the dance floor” for their daughters, that was both hilarious and heart-warming.

As the authors of the book Surprise put it,


“We feel most comfortable when things are certain, but we feel most alive when they’re not.”

Those dads provided a script-breaking, alive-feeling experience for all in attendance! While there may have been some CEOs, VPs, or EDs in the mix… you wouldn’t have known it. That day they were devoid of any title, save one: Dad.

And any girl whose dad shared that stage with her will remember it… and retell it. The hours of grueling practice, tiff backstage with another dancer or less-than-favorite-choreography may be forgotten, but her dad showing up to help to show her off… will NOT!

It was both ironic and iconic.

Ironic that these men, professionally capable in their own area of expertise but with little (or no) talent in their daughters’ place of magic-making… performed undaunted.

And that “lack” actually set the stage for the iconic leadership lesson.

“Leading well is not about enriching yourself—it’s about empowering others.” ~ John C Maxwell

NOTHING about the participation of those men at that recital would appear as a bullet point on their resume.

But it did make the powerful point that their kids matter enough to them to invest time and energy and… to relinquish their pride.

Holding THAT image will not only help us open doors for ourselves and others… it will keep us all on our toes!

I assure you… no easy feat.


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