Passion and Creativity Make all the Difference in the World

Me with my Guru (on the left) Padma Khanna Sidana

Me with my Guru (on the left) Padma Khanna Sidana

In many things in life, the difference between being good and being great is passion and creativity. In my line of work, and when competing, passion and creativity are the main differentiators. Great mentors can help instill that passion in a mentee, and guide you to finding a fresh perspective and bold creativity. Allow me to explain.

When I decided to make dance my career, I was faced with a harsh reality: a severe lack of mentorship when it came to advancing my career as a South Asian artist in a non-South Asian dance world. Growing up in New Jersey, where big communities of Americans of South Asian origin reside, it is commonplace for most girls to experience Indian classical dance training. The difference is that the goal of her training has been entertaining at family events and having a fun hobby, not a serious, focused dance career.

To be fair, as a five year old when I started learning Kathak (one of eight classical Indian dance forms), a career was not my goal either. However, a serious passion for dance and an encouraging dancer mother gently pushed me to strive for excellence in class. I enjoyed the classes and found that I had developed a passion for it. When I began college, and chose to enter into the professional dance world, I realized people who were at the “top” were not much older than me. I also came to realize that my generation is the one that will make the South Asian arts part of the mainstream culture in the United States. We are part of the, as my friend calls it, Indian Dance Renaissance. The question remains, as it does in most professions, how do we obtain mentorship to ensure we stay on the right path?

Obtaining and receiving mentorship is important in most fields. My Guru (mentor) spent one-on-one sessions with me exploring my dance movement and my expressions. She explained the origin of each step and gently guided me to find my dance niche. Great mentors will adapt their teaching style to what fits their student best.

Great mentors will help the mentee find a path that is not only what society defines as “successful” but that will help them grow, challenge the status quo, and ultimately achieve their dreams.

Professional Indian dancers usually work in multiple South Asian companies to make ends meet, so overlap in dance and style is rampant. As I moved forward from performer to teacher, I asked myself– As dancers and teachers, how do we continue to give our students superior mentorship to ensure they can bloom as beautiful and unique dancers while we continue to expand the South Asian dance world?

Over time, the answer emerged.

The world of dance is slowly moving from competitive to collaborative. As children, we were often part of catty dance competitions where dance teachers greeted each other with tight-lipped smiles and stoic eyes, fearing their expressions would leak out their choreography. This was not an environment that promoted healthy competition.

Now, instead of constantly being head to head with one another and trying to decide who is best, we teach that working together and using everyone’s skills together can make an even bigger and better product. In dance, as in any other field, teamwork is as important as individual skills to truly be competitive.

The New Age of Mentors

As the new age of dance mentors gain momentum, we will encourage teamwork. We have the opportunity to mentor young artists and encourage them to consider a career in the arts, not only dancing for family entertainment. We can dare to innovate, bring fresh perspective, be bold, and dream big by performing as our heart directs us.

We can help dancers balance business with art, and find that sweet spot where commercialization and competition meet creativity and passion. We can collaborate across cultural barriers with artists from all fields, and provide mentorship and be role models for our students.

This idea is not limited to dance. Competition can be collaborative in every field. Why constantly worry about who can come up with the next best thing when instead we can work together to find the best solution.

As teachers and mentors, we need to bring out the uniqueness of each of our students and guide them to combine their talents with others. Whichever career you choose to pursue, we need to encourage working collaboratively to find that sweet spot where commercialization and competition meet creativity and passion. Passion and creativity can make all the difference in the world.

Do you need a mentor? Do you wish to become a much needed mentor? WINGS for Growth was created to inspire, enable and empower talented young women to become leaders of the future through impactful mentoring, coaching and networking with visionary, successful, and caring leaders and role models. Contact us today www.wingsforgrowth.org

About the Author

Shivani Badgi is a dancer, teacher, and choreographer in NJ/NYC and a volunteer at WINGS for Growth. Visit her website at shivanibadgi.com.

In the event of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth reminds everyone that daring to dream must continue!

Martin Luther King Jr. Had a Dream – Do YOU have a Dream?

In the event of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth reminds everyone that daring to dream must continue!

In the event of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth reminds everyone that daring to dream must continue!

To help celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, WINGS for Growth wanted to take the opportunity to reiterate how important great role models and mentors are, and to share some inspiring messages to help put us in the mood for the holiday.

As many of us know – but it is worth repeating – Dr. King was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the Civil Rights Movement, which successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. This inspirational role model was the author of the “I have a dream” speech. In it, Dr. King so eloquently states “I have a dream that one day, this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed; ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal’.” Although his 1963 speech stressed that even 100 years after the Emancipation Proclamation had been signed – “the Negro is still not free”, today we celebrate many significant achievements of black people – including the eight year presidency of Barack Obama – which in 1863, no one dared to dream of. Today, daring to dream must continue.

Having role models and mentors, such as Mr. King, enable us to look beyond what is simple to achieve to tackle what is difficult to achieve.

Scientists, doctors, and researchers all work hard each day to prove what can be done – but first, someone had to dream that it might be possible. Who teaches and inspires us to dream? Mothers, fathers, relatives, friends, teachers, religious figures, local as well as famous role models instill in us the need to dream- to reach higher and farther. Mentors then show us HOW to achieve our dreams by sharing their wisdom, leading us, and enabling us to find our way.

What is a mentor?

  • A mentor is a career parent/person who has your best interest in mind
  • “A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself, and helps to bring it out in you” –Bob Proctor
  • A mentor imparts wisdom
  • A great mentor is a great person first
  • A mentor focuses on ‘developing’ NOT ‘doing’
  • “A mentor is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction” –John C. Crosby

As we celebrate the life and accomplishments of a great person, role model and mentor — Martin Luther King Jr. — remember that it is equally important to find your own passions and way, not to just follow in the footsteps of others.

The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. — Steven Spielberg

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” — Malala Yousafzai

“We are so often left to wonder whether one person can possibly make a difference. Mother Teresa said yes, we can. Her life was resounding proof that it is possible” — Craig Kielburger

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is not only celebrated in the USA, it is also recognized and celebrated in MANY countries around the world such as in Japan (Hiroshima), Canada (Toronto), Israel (Jerusalem), the Netherlands (Wassenaar) and more. Though not necessarily a national holiday, each country holds special ceremonies to remember, to teach tolerance and the importance of civil rights.

What will you do to celebrate?

Do you need a mentor? Do you wish to become a much needed mentor? WINGS for Growth was created to inspire, enable and empower talented young women to become leaders of the future through impactful mentoring, coaching and networking with visionary, successful, and caring leaders and role models. Contact us today www.wingsforgrowth.org

As we embark on another year…

NewYear

Today as we are getting ready to ring in the New Year, we wanted to share this story which made 2016 one of the best years in recent memory.

We received a call from a young woman who will remain nameless… She inquired about what we do and about the WINGS. After our regular sales pitch, and sharing our views passionately on the phone, she asked if she could be a mentee even though she has nothing to do with Corporate America. She went on to explain she does not have a great education nor a great family to support her.

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3 Things to Do for Daily Inspiration

3thingstodo

It’s me again; the person who finds inspiration in the most unlikely places – or should I say many, very likely places – – that is to say, almost everywhere! When you look around and take a minute to think about the people that most inspire you, it becomes clear that these people come in many forms; your neighbor, your teacher from school, a mother or father, your sister or brother, someone from work, an author, someone famous, someone you have known your entire life, and sometimes someone you have just met.

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My Father’s Good Advice

MyFatherGoodAdvice

My father told me many times, “There’s never a bad time to do something good”. This is true today more than ever. With all the crazy things happening in the world, it makes sense to give back and mentor others whenever you can. Our world needs more passionate, inspiring and successful leaders. I was the fortunate recipient of some excellent mentoring during my 26 years on Wall Street, and now I want to share that experience and knowledge with other women. Finding it was difficult for me – so allow me to give back and make it easy for you.

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Women and Leadership

President Eisenhower received a letter from a girl that began with the words “Dear Mr. Eisenhower, I am nine years old” and went on to speak about racial justice. The girl was to become one of America’s leading historians on the Civil War. She was Drew Gilpin Faust.

 

The life story of Drew Gilpin Faust, President of Harvard, offers a panoramic view of the progress of women from the traditional roles of the past centuries to high offices in what can be called bastions of male power.

When women stand up for their rights they make this world a better place

Faust’s interest in the Civil War had a personal angle too. In her book “Mothers of Invention: Women of the slave holding South” Faust traced how the war upended centuries of traditions in gender relationships. With the men folk off to war front women stepped out into roles hitherto no one had ventured into.

Time magazine’s choice for “Person of the year” for 2002 were three women that they called “women of ordinary demeanor but exceptional guts”. Sherron Watkins of Enron, Coleen Rowley of FBI and Cynthia Cooper of Worldcom were honored, in a year when public confidence in the probity of corporations and public institutions reached a record low, for being courageous whistleblowers and for ‘speaking truth to power’. The cover story noted that all three were from humble backgrounds and breadwinners for their families and thus their acts of courage really placed their livelihoods in jeopardy.

While this year may see the hardest glass ceiling of American politics being shattered we should not fail to note other important historical changes in America with regard to women. The US army now permits women in combat roles. Detailed studies prior to that decision showed that many concerns about women not being able to carry out the training or tasks were unfounded. More importantly the studies revealed that many requirements were geared towards men and carried little relevance to modern day battlefield requirements, which women could easily fulfill like any man.

Women should constantly question the assumptions and paradigms that have become ingrained in the subliminal conscience of society over centuries. More often than not the assumptions are just that, assumptions.

A leader is always ready to challenge and question the norm

Oscar winning actress Jennifer Lawrence has spoken at length about how women, including a famous star like her, shy away from bargaining hard for salaries. An article in the British newspaper The Guardian wrote that Lawrence felt the “need ‘to be liked’ and the fear of seeming ‘difficult’ or ‘spoiled’ kept her from demanding more money”. Lawrence added “based on statistics, I don’t think I’m the only woman with this issue…Could there still be a lingering habit of trying to express our opinions in a certain way that doesn’t ‘offend’ or ‘scare’ men?”

Dr. Faust became Harvard’s first woman president and told, at a press conference “I am not the woman president of Harvard, I’m the president of Harvard”. Quite a triumph for a girl whose mother once admonished her that “It’s a man’s world, sweetie, and the sooner you learn that better off you will be”.

The lives of the Time magazine trio, Faust and Lawrence offer important glimpses into the value of a diverse and egalitarian world and more importantly underscores the importance of standing up for one’s rights and merits. Dr. Faust refused to learn the lesson her mother wanted her to learn and the world is a better place today.