Channel Your Inner Taylor Swift: How to Find Inspiration to Be Who You Want to BeOct 08, 2023
I grew up dancing ballet, a technically rigid style of movement taught by an exacting teacher. There was a precise position for each part of your body in each and every move, a standard of perfection to strive for. It wasn't all that different when I shifted to ballroom dancing as an adult.
And then I found swing dancing.
While West Coast Swing has a structure and basic technique, it allows for much more creative expression and personal style. Champion level swing dancers range from what you'd envision a dancer to look like - young and lithe - to middle-aged borderline obese people, and every one puts their own unique twist on the dance. It's one of the things I love about it...and one of the things I struggled with initially.
Until that point, as a dancer, I'd had in mind that there was one objectively correct way to execute a move. Swing challenged me to be more flexible and to expand my definition of right. It was initially uncomfortable but ultimately freeing.
Stepping Into Someone's Silhouette
My first ballroom and swing instructor, Matt, introduced this concept he called stepping into someone's silhouette. It was a way to emulate someone else's style. By that, he meant envisioning the shape of your idol's body and the quality of their movement, then mimicking it by trying to create the same silhouette.
It made sense to me at the time, and I practiced trying on styles, attempting to embody them until I found the one that fit for me. But I think this concept applies far beyond the dance floor.
Channel Your Inner Taylor Swift
Humans are inherently social creatures, and we learn through observing others and imitating what we see, what psychologists call the Social Learning Theory. We learn all matters of things by looking to others as guides, not only as children trying to figure out how to operate in this world, but as adults, too, whether we realize it or not.
I talked to a college student recently who was telling me about some drama in her friend group. She told me how she was channeling Michelle Obama and Taylor Swift as inspiration for taking the high road and keeping things classy rather than resorting to being petty or passive aggressive. I thought it was such a brilliant take on the old "be the bigger person" advice. Intentionally following in her icon's footsteps allowed her to forego the immediate satisfaction that comes from gong off on someone who wronged you and, ultimately, helped her navigate the challenging group dynamics in a way that left her without regret.
Values Board of Directors
There are a number of reasons why having official and unofficial mentors can be beneficial. They help you develop skills, rise through the ranks in your career, pave the way in other journeys like parenting and fitness. But one way mentors can be especially helpful is by modeling the kind of human being you want to be.
Dr. April, my co-founder here at Peak Mind, introduced me (and our community) to this great exercise called Your Values Board of Directors. Think of 5 people who you admire for the way they behave and the way they move through the world. You can think of people, either in your real life or from afar, who you are naturally drawn to, who you admire. Then, think about the qualities they exhibit that draw you to them. Alternatively, you can think about how you would like to be then find people who exemplify those traits.
Do you want to go high when they go low like Mrs. Obama? Shake it off like T Swift? Exude patience? Be bold and decisive? Authentic? Creative? Intelligent? Funny? Strong? In what ways?
Once you've identified these people, mentally invite them to join your Values Board of Directors. Then look to them for inspiration and guidance when challenging situations arise. Ask yourself, WWTD (What would Taylor do)? Imagine how they would respond in the face of whatever frustration, disappointment, setback, or opportunity it is that you are encountering. Step into their silhouette, so to speak, and see how it feels for you as a person and how it plays out.
"No matter what happens in life, be good to people. Being good to people is a wonderful legacy to leave behind." - Taylor Swift
Written by Dr. Ashley Smith
Peak Mind Co-founder
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