Being a “winner” is not necessary to win.
Donnie Burns addressed the subject matter of winning. Is it in the DNA of a dancer which makes him win or not? Can this will to win be cultivated by teachers and coaches or not?
My first responses are a YES and a NO.
Yes, the end result – the winning – can be created by all types of talented dancers with the help of good teams of knowledgeable teachers and coaches. So yes, winning can be cultivated.
And NO: it is not necessary to have that “will to win” in order to win.
Maslow’s look at it
Abraham Maslow, a great American psychologist showed the world a hierarchy of needs that indicates our coping strategies: our first and most primal needs are the physiological needs (food, drinks, shelter, health). Once we have these needs met we move to satisfy our need for safety. When we feel safe a new need appears: socialization. We want to feel part of a group, we want to feel connected, to feel included. When that is in place we strive for status & esteem. In this stage we want to be better than others. Only on this level the will to win is found! And finally we may move to self actualization: a place where we want to understand ourselves more, where we may want to develop ourselves further.
In a life time we may move from one level to another. Once a level is “satisfied” the new level will address itself naturally. Change goes slowly over time. There is no better or worse level. Effective coaches know at what level their dancers are in their lives and accept that. They work with the presented level and stimulate dancers according to the needs of that level. By doing so they may guide dancers to move to the next level too. That would be a bonus but is not a goal in itself.
All dancers cannot be on the level of “status” and “esteem” just because they compete and put a number on the back of the male.
Over the last 17 years I have tested many dancers on the Maslow Hierarchy of Need-scale and the results are quite stimulating. When we only look at the dozens of world champions in the research you might expect that they possess the will to win more dominantly. This is not the case. My practice shows that there are quite a few world champions with that will to win. We call them Aspirers and Succeeders. But there are also world champions who mentally are in the “Struggler group”. Also champions are found in the Mainstreamer group (the need for socialization). And for sure there are world champions will an internal need to develop themselves for themselves: the Explorers and the Reformers.
Acceptance of these mental differences by teachers and coaches is a crucial step to help the dancers to develop. Pushing them in a ‘winners state of mind’ may work for Aspirers and Succeeders but it will work counterproductive with all other state of minds.
Winning according to the Enneagram
Another way of looking at the will to win can be found in the world of the Enneagram. The Enneagram works with personality styles also called human motives. The system indicates nine different styles. Only one of these nine styles has a dominant will to win:
Type Three – The Effective Person. Dancers with this Type Three – which is also called The Winner – really have an internal need to be better than others. And they feel the pain of losing too.
In my practice I have worked with many champions possessing this mental style The Winner. But they are – for sure – not the biggest group of winners.
Type One – The Perfectionist – loves to improve and needs to get better. This type has set rules how things should be and Type One has to meet the rules. Winning is not their aim but getting better is. And integrity too.
Type Two – the Helpful Person – loves to dance to support others. They don’t dance to win but they can. They really enjoy being there for their partner/teachers.
Type Four – The Romantic Individualist – needs to express the feelings that are inside. They feel they are unique and love to express that uniqueness too. They hate being average. Such a personality style creates great art. And Types Four can become great dance champions too.
Type Five – the Observer – loves to understand the world. This type likes facts and loves logic. They also dance and can come up with new techniques that really work better than the previous ones.
Type Six – the Loyal Person – will excel in performing when the needs for safety and loyalty are met. They need to feel that safety with their partner and in the team around them. In that atmosphere they can reach to great heights.
Type Seven – The Optimist – loves new experiences and gets upset when life gets repetitive. Type Seven needs to be addressed positively and needs to be stimulated a lot. When these needs are met Type Seven can develop to be a very attractive dancer.
Type Eight – The Powerful Person – loves to be in control. This personality type likes to make decisions himself. Herself. Type Eight – also called The Boss – can be quite overpowering. These dancers work hard: they don’t like to be weak. They like to be prepared. Quite a good frame of mind to win a dance competition too. Like all other frames of mind!
And finally there is Type Nine – the Peaceful Person. They like life to be in harmony. And dancing might just be the greatest way to create that feeling of harmony in their lives. This personality style can create beautiful and successful dancers too.
According to the Enneagram there are nine different personality styles and each style creates different ways of addressing dance. They have different interpretations too. And they need to be taught and coached in different ways to. And isn’t that the beauty of it all?
PS. If you recognize yourself in more than one enneatype than that is quite natural. Most people indentify with two or three of these personality styles. And that makes all of us even more unique.