Learn to dance – or do anything for that matter – fast! By adjusting old ways of thinking, implementing productive behaviors, changing bad habits that do not serve you and redefining yourself into the person you want to be, you can learn to dance quickly.
In this article, I challenge you to take a different approach to learning. Many of us believe it takes years and years to learn new skills. While it may take that long to master a topic, it certainly doesn't have to take that long to get an in-depth, working knowledge that can serve you. With the learning techniques below, you can learn any new skill in a short amount of time. Keep in mind, even though we are focusing on learning Salsa dancing here, you can take these learning approaches and apply them to anything you want to learn, from Salsa dancing to learning a new language to playing the guitar.
The first essential element is CLARITY. Be clear about what you want from this endeavor. Even if you don't know exactly what you want at first, at least have an idea in mind of what you want to take away from any dance class you attend. Perhaps you want to learn arm styling. Maybe you want to become a better leader. Half the battle is having a clear idea of what you want to accomplish. Once you have clarity, you can easily map the way to success.
Action Step: Write down one or two sentences of what you want to get from learning this new skill. (i.e. I want to feel confident enough to dance with 20 different girls at the club in 3 months).
The second element is what I like to call SPONGINESS. Become like a sponge. Soak up as much knowledge as you can from class. Use your focused energy to be completely present in the moment and take in as much information as you can. Ask for confirmation from the instructor that you are executing the moves correctly. Don't ask another student who is at the same skill level that you are. Let the instructor know that you want to learn as much as possible in the shortest amount of time and ask for feedback and suggestions. Being a sponge is really about being fully present and focused in the moment and taking in as much as you can from the experience.
Action Step: Take 10 deep breaths and remind yourself to relax and enjoy the experience. This will help you feel at ease and relaxed which enhances your ability to receive and take in information.
ACTIVATION & MENTAL PROCESSING are the third elements. Once you have the information, it won't do you much good if you just forget about it. Now is the time to remember what you learned and think through it. Take notes immediately after class so you don't forget any of the information. Review your notes periodically to keep the ideas fresh in your mind. Mentally reactivate the information a few times during the day. Visualize yourself executing the moves correctly and hold that picture of yourself in your mind. Don't waste your idle time (standing in line, waiting for bus, etc.). You can use this time to mentally rehearse your new skills.
Action Step: Take notes after you learn something and review those notes daily and think through them with your own mind. For instance, you learn that you need to apply pressure in the fingertips to lead your lady through a particular move. By thinking through this concept, you could begin to see how it can apply to other steps and moves as well.
MAKE IT EASY TO SUCCEED is the final step. Often times, when we fail at something it's because we are making it hard to succeed. We are human beings who like to complicate things for some strange reason. This is backwards. If you aren't having fun doing something, what's the point of doing it? Whenever you embark upon a new skill, make it easy for yourself to learn by finding a way to make it fun. If you stress out about how you look when you're dancing or about doing a move wrong, then you are creating putting a lot of pressure and tension on yourself that will make you feel like a failure and stress you out. This does absolutely NOTHING to help your accelerated learning in any way, shape or form. The beauty is that you have control over your experience, so you can change it if you find that your thoughts do not serve you in learning at your highest potential.
Action Step: Find a way to make it fun for yourself. For example, I like to compete, so I impose challenges upon myself to learn “x” amount of new moves during a specific time frame. I tell a friend my challenge and that they can expect "x" amount of new moves from me by the end of the week. This gives me motivation to follow through and accomplish what I set out to do. This works for me, but play around and see what works best for you in making it FUN, FUN, FUN!