“This is not my first dance,” Leslie said. And then we walked into the boardroom to make one of the most important presentations of our careers.
I was a mid-level manager at a Fortune 500 company and was presenting an idea to senior managers and some board members. My partner in the presentation was regional manager in the company whom was respected for her tact, analysis, and humor. The presentation went well and as we walked back to the office afterward, half joking I asked her about her comment: “So when was your first dance?” “With my dad,” she answered, “he taught me how to follow and then how to lead, how to read a room by noticing the nuanced direction of your dance partner, and how to enjoy the dance even when it gets challenging.” “Are we talking about dancing or life?” I asked. She laughed, “Both!”
Leslie’s father was a businessman who had the heart of an artist, a dancer. When Leslie was little, she remembered her parents dancing everything together from the waltz to the jive to the two-step. And her daddy seemed like Prince Charming. Her eyes shown as she remembered aloud the first time her daddy asked her to dance: she stood on his polished cordovan wingtip shoes as he hummed a waltz and his huge strong hands enveloped her little fists and wrists. She remembered clearly the look of joy on his face and spring of joy in her heart. “He was my first standard of a man,” she said. “He taught me how a woman should be treated, must be respected, and could be appreciated while she was both strong and feminine.”
Leslie went on, “As I got older, my dad used dance as an analogy for business and life. There can only be one leader, so learning to follow well when it is appropriate is a valuable skill. Then, as my dad aged, he could no longer lead and I had to take over leading our dancing. So, I guess he taught me to lead as well.”
I thanked Leslie, drove to the airport, and boarded a plane for home. During the three-hour flight, my mind went to my own daughters. Was I being the standard of a man I wanted for them? Was I creating a spring of joy in them? Was I being a good dance teacher?
My wife is a strong, brilliant woman and they see an example of Proverbs 31 lived out in front of them every day. But I have an opportunity show them that they can appreciated, loved, and cheered by a man for being that Proverbs 31 woman. And that it is ok to just be held when it gets hard. I can show them that a man can be a safe place to land, and then encourage them to get back out on the dance floor.
When I walked back in the door that night, I went and found my baby girl. “Come dance with me,” I whispered. I began to hum a little tune, pulled her bare feet on top of my polished cordovan wingtip shoes, and felt joy invade my face. As we danced in a circle, the firelight danced in her eyes and in her ever-widening smile and she threw her head back in joy to let her hair fly as we spun and as she laughed.
You and I may or may not do a lot of great things in our lives, but there are life-changing things we can do right now. We can be the standard of a man we want for our daughters, and we can create springs of joy in their hearts by loving them for exactly whom God created them to be. In short, we can be great dance teachers.