There she stood, exposed like few humans ever are.
On September 16, Kate Flannery was of the 12 contestants who began Dancing with the Stars latest season. Kate, best known as Meredith from The Office, is a friend of Brenda’s and mine, so we’ve been lucky to witness her experience up close.
Kate’s previous dance experience is mostly at wedding receptions. Yet, with 8 MILLION people watching on live TV and with only a few weeks of dance lessons under her belt, she stood ready to dance a very intricate cha-cha routine on an enormous ballroom stage. 8 million self-appointed dance experts waited, ready to judge her.
To add to the pressure, three professional dance judges would evaluate her dancing while the entire audience listened in. And one of those judges is known for crushing people with extremely harsh, critical feedback.
Most importantly, no matter how many mistakes she made or how mean the feedback was, she was expected to smile and be gracious throughout the process. Meanwhile, her reptile brain and her ego were telling her to run off the stage before she even started.
And you thought getting confidential performance feedback from your boss was difficult?
Kate’s either really courageous or completely crazy.
Today is her fourth week on the show and it hasn’t been easy. She scored in the bottom half in the first week. All of that work and she was still below average.
Also, the grueling daily training schedule started to take its toll. Her feet and her knees are swelling and she’s in pain. This week as she prepares for the tango, her thighs are on fire constantly. She has only a few days each week to learn a new dance at a professional level.
Yet, excuses won’t help her. Millions of viewers and the judges expect her to move smoothly and keep smiling in spite of all the pain and challenge, or she’ll be voted off the show.
Again, remind me of why she’s doing this…
Kate doesn’t need to do this show. She’s already had far more success than most performers who’ve moved to Hollywood with a dream. She’s happy and she’s fulfilled. And yet, she said yes to this extreme challenge.
Only Kate knows why she said yes.
But regardless of why, there’s one life-changing outcome for Kate that’s as predictable as sunrise as she keeps giving her all to this insanity.
This same outcome is predictable for you, too. And you don’t need an audience.
Kate will be transformed. Guaranteed.
After this experience, she’ll be playing at a higher level mentally, emotionally, physically—even spiritually—simply because she gave it all to stretching to her extreme as a dancer. In fact, her transformation is guaranteed regardless of whether or not she wins.
After only four weeks, we’ve already seen her mindset and behavior grow more strong.
All of this exists for you, too. Guaranteed.
Ultimately, Kate’s experience completely parallels your own potential transformations. But let’s make sure you see the parallels clearly so you can take full advantage of it.
And you don’t need to be dancing.
You could be stretching yourself to become a far better leader, listener, parent, pickle player, marketer, or meditator. As long as it’s a daunting challenge to you, you’ve planted the seeds of transformation.
Playing the familiar game won’t produce that same outcome for you.
Kate has been a professional actress for over 30 years. She’s acted and sang on TV, in movies, and on stage. She’s walked the red carpet, been the voice of cartoon characters, and even served as grand marshal of parades.
While every new role challenges her, each of those was still within her zone of talent, training, and experience. That work is difficult, but it’s unlikely to evoke a full-out transformation.
Performing on DWTS is like living in an alternate reality.
Ballroom dancing? She’d never done that.
Dancing LIVE in front of 16 million judging eyes? Nope.
Potentially being kicked out of the cast every time she performed. Never.
Experiencing EXTREME physical injury and pain? Never like this.
Risking public humiliation from a nasty judge? Not to this extreme.
While she can carry forward some of her performance training, much of her established toolbox is failing her.
But because she’s leaning in, her failures are a gift.
You rarely get transformed while doing what you’re able to do with a high rate of success. There, you can rely on tweaks to your old moves. As a result, your transformation is far less likely.
Getting far out of your comfort zone is a must.
When you know the right answers and the right moves in most situations, that bolsters your belief that your view of the world is accurate and complete.
There’s no incentive to challenge or change anything. Your sense of yourself cements itself, you know what you can and cannot do, and you have some sense of your place in the bigger picture.
As a result, you keep relying on your established success strategies and worldview.
Just because it works in familiar territory doesn’t mean it’s accurate or powerful.
Even though you’re capable of things that go far beyond your existing sense of who you are, your previous success and comfort reinforce your self-constructed worldview.
Without realizing it, living in the bubble of your “reality” restrains you from experiencing the vastness of yourself you don’t yet know. Most people you know go to extremes to remain in their bubble.
Use your own experiences as proof points.
Recall any extreme challenge you were forced to face where you had to rewrite important assumptions and beliefs to thrive. Although you may never wish to relive it, aren’t you stronger and clearer now because of it?
When you stretch, you fail frequently…and that’s a gift.
While stretching to your extremes, like performing your first dance in front of millions of people, your instinct will be to work harder to apply your old, established success strategies. In foreign territory, they will fail you much more.
Failure might make you doubt yourself to your core.
You might question your sense of who you really are, sparking the proverbial identity crisis: “Who am I? Am I any good? Should I just quit?”
Yet, at that moment of your despair, I’ll applaud wildly for you.
That moment of terrible doubt, chaos, and confusion is your threshold to transformation…if you make the choice to lean in and keep going.
Most people will retreat.
They fight hard to return to the world where they know all the answers to the questions.
But if you’re willing to lean in, transformation awaits you. Your most helpful words become “I don’t know.”
Extreme transformational moments may present themselves five or six times in your entire life. Many of them will choose you, not the reverse.
Even if you jump into that breach with enthusiasm, you’ll have more than one moment of freaking out, melting down, and wanting to quit. Your reptile brain will interpret the unknown as signs of danger and tell you to run. Perhaps you should.
But perhaps your entry into this foreign external territory is the pathway to that internal transformation you’ve been secretly wishing for.
Can you let Kate be your teacher, today?
Opportunities will keep knocking on your door. They’ll range from the small to the nearly impossible. The best ones will usually be unexpected and unwanted. But the possibility for transformation is often proportionate to the level of challenge.
Of course, be wise and pack your transformation suitcase with the essentials like a guide who knows this territory, a sense of humor about yourself, and a circle of support.
If you’re wanting to liberate the shining best of yourself that you haven’t yet experienced, remind yourself that you’re going to need to dance a new dance to get there.
What sounds like insanity may actually be your entry music.
PLEASE! Support Kate with your vote!
Her dance score only contributes to 50% of her total score. The other 50% comes from our votes. Will you please help Kate stay on the show to make this a transformation of a lifetime for her?
Need further inspiration?
After her low score in week 1 and the intense physical challenges, she received the 2nd best score in week 2 and the top score in week 3!
Please vote for Kate tonight and every Monday night. Here’s how you can place 20 votes for Kate.
Vote between 8–9:30pm Eastern/7–8:30pm Central/5–6:30pm Pacific in the US:
- Text “KATE” to 21523—you can send 10 texts for 10 votes
- Sign up to vote online at dwtsvote.abc.go.com—once you’ve taken one minute to register, you can vote online 10 times.
Follow her on Instagram at @therealkateflannery
Brenda and I will be at the live performance tonight cheering our lungs out for Team Kate!