Today ran into a student that I “lost” about five years ago. When I say I “lost”, I mean to say I fought long and hard to keep her engaged and growing as a student, but in the end I was not able to keep her with our studio. Despite my best effort, she moved to another dance studio in the middle of high school and eventually transitioned to sports.
I still remember getting the email announcing her departure. I thought about it non-stop while driving to Florida for a family vacation. My body was in the car, but my mind was somewhere three months prior reliving every previous interaction looking for signs…anything I could’ve done differently. But, I couldn’t have. Even though did my best, I felt defeated and questioned my ability as a leader.
Fast forward five years and this former student is now a young adult about to graduate college. Barely recognizing her at a sporting event for my own children, I took a chance and called out her name. She turned, clearly surprised to see me, and something flashed in her eyes…was it a memory? Nervousness? Uncertainty?
None of it mattered anymore. This was a kid I cared about and mentored for a very long time, so I jumped in as if not a day had passed. I asked about the last years of high school, her dancing, her pursuit of sports, eventual injuries and subsequent surgeries. I shared my favorite memory of her as a dancer–a beautiful night of improv to live worship music.
And, then it happened.
A sparkle came to her eyes. Her face softened and she said, “You know sometimes I miss the dancing, but my body won’t let me do it anymore.” I told her I was proud of all she was doing and wasn’t surprised at all to hear of her accomplishments in sports, school and beyond. She had always been a high flier.
And, then my heart softened…towards myself. You see, I hold myself to an incredibly high standard. My mind knows that a perfect score in business is not possible, but even so, that’s what I measure myself against most days.
What a gift to see this young gal and realize that I had an important part of her journey for a long time, but it really was hers to complete her way. I wasn’t able to take her to the finish line of her high school experience, but I ran alongside her a good long distance and all these years later we can laugh and smile and hug and watch a track meet together.
Grace wins. I needed to be reminded of that today and maybe somebody reading did, too:)