ONE Thing

April 27, 2015

This post is related to an earlier one I wrote about over-training, which you can read here.

Neuroscience is able to tell us a lot about brain function and one thing we now know with certainty is that multi-tasking is impossible. The brain is sequential. Some brains may work faster than others, but no one’s brain is actually doing more than one thing at a time.

So why do we try to “fix” multiple things in our dance at one time? Why do we seek out opinions and feedback from multiple people all at once? It’s counter-productive.

That’s why I have the One Thing Rule. I use it myself and I try to instill it in the instructors that I train as well. The One Thing rule is this: pick ONE thing to improve at a time.

Which thing? you ask. Aye, there’s the rub: how to decide what one thing is going to get you best bang for your buck right now. The answer is, It depends. It depends on:

  • Your goals and interests. Competitive or purely social? Just got into Novice or just getting out of Intermediate? The focus will change based on your answers.
  • What keeps you motivated? Because it’s basically impossible to give anything sufficient attention if it doesn’t interest you.
  • What’s most foundational? As an instructor this is my key focus – identifying the ONE thing that will give a dancer the greatest gains if it is improved. Sometimes, just ONE thing – the right thing – fixes a bunch of other things that you’ve been hearing or struggling with for a long time. Figuring out that ONE thing is a bit of an art, and a lot of experience, so find a good coach.

For myself, I will admit to working on more than one thing at a time in my dance. But I work on only one TYPE of thing at a time (technique versus styling versus musicality versus performance, for example), and I work on only ONE thing in a given practice session or dance.

So what’s your ONE thing? And will you commit to making it better before moving on to the next?