This is the final part of the Think Big series highlighting my takeaways from Dr. Benjamin Carson’s Think Big. So far, we've covered:
Removing distractions to encourage creativity.
The importance of reading books.
In-depth learning, specifically in dance.
Part III is about influence. It is not a letter on Dr. Carson’s Think Big acrostic. He writes about it in his chapter on Knowledge (K). Dr. Carson writes that all knowledge is of value and who you want to influence directly informs the knowledge that you need to acquire (Carson, 209). So, who do you want to influence?
Let’s look at it this way. As a dancer, if your goal is only to influence other dancers, then only learn about dance. Watch only dance, be involved only in the dance world or the arts, and only have friends who are involved in dance. But, we need an audience and patrons and supporters, right? Therefore, we need to know non-dancers. We need to know what our audience is interested in and be able to hold engaging conversation with supporters. Otherwise, who will come to see our work (which opens the bigger question of whether we create art for ourselves, the audience, or both)? Who will be our benefactors?
We also want a certain quality of life. We need to have knowledge of the type of compensation, benefits, and rights we should expect in order to influence our workplace. If we want viable careers in the arts, we have to have knowledge of why other industries are successful and apply that knowledge to our own. Want to influence your community? Learn about and get involved in politics.
As dance teachers, we spend a great deal of time with our students. For good or bad, we play a part in shaping who they are as adults. That requires us to know more than technique, more than staying abreast of current dance affairs. We should know what affects them as youth- to know their dreams and aspirations as well as the issues that concern them.
So, as artists, as people, we want to influence our children, our audiences, our communities, and our government. If that is the case, we need to learn as much as we can about the world around us. We have to read and have experiences outside of our area of expertise. We need to invest in more than just the technical training of our students. We need to be able to have intelligent conversations about more than just dance. In doing so, we influence others and open new doors of opportunity.
Think Big conveys a simple message with a big impact. It is about the everyday things we can do to maximize our potential and be excellent. When all of us do our best and bring the best of who we are and what we do to the table, we make the world a better place.
Until next time....
Carson, Ben, and Cecil Murphey. Think Big: Unleashing Your Potential for Excellence. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1992. Print.