Last month I posted on social media to celebrate the launch of our new tech-enabled studios which can live-stream classes. It was a significant investment for our small business and so I was particularly appreciative of all the effort that went into it.
We hired a company out of Chicago that specializes technology to come to our studio and do the install. It’s a fairly complex system that takes the voice of the teacher via microphone, the music from our stereo, and the video feed from a camera and pulls all three elements through a mixer into Zoom. With the system in place, our students who are not yet comfortable coming to class in-person can have a seamless experience learning from home. It took four days (and about a billion feet of wires!) to install the systems in seven dance rooms.
After working all day to test each and every input, I asked a fellow teacher to take a picture of our installer, Tim, and me (from a safe distance) to celebrate the moment we went live.
The teacher backed up to get the best angle for the photo. I dropped my mask to my chin so I could smile, added my jazz hands, and put my mask back on. Then I shared the picture online and stayed at the studio most of the night to continue monitoring the tech launch.
There’s been a local mask mandate for several weeks now, but I’ve mandated masks for my staff for three MONTHS. Wearing a mask is no big deal for me or my staff. It’s a small thing we can do for the benefit of others and we do it gladly. Shortly after my post though, I started receiving messages expressing concern that I had my mask down in the photo … and the example that would be set for our children.
So in a quick reaction, I took that picture down. I reacted in fear of being misunderstood, and out of fear of losing business. I had already spent much of the previous week fielding calls and messages alternating between, “You’re TOO SERIOUS about all these safety precautions” and “You give TOO MUCH GRACE with your policies.” I was tired and I took the picture down out of fear.
But my action didn’t set well with my conscience. I slept on it, prayed about it, and decided to try again. I wrote a new post and included the original smiling photo, jazz hands and all.
I wrote that I was smiling after 5 months of fighting hard to create a safe environment for our students to return to.
I was smiling because we just launched another innovative solution for kids that will keep them dancing all year, even if they have to dance at home for any reason.
I was smiling because our students were coming “home” … finally. They were coming back to their second home, their place to grow and learn and express themselves, building the whole health of their bodies, hearts, and minds.
I was smiling because all of our employees still had jobs serving our dance families, and because projects like this support other small businesses too.
I was smiling because leading and teaching and coaching are all part of my calling. I get to something I love every day and I’m so very thankful for it even when it’s hard.
Reposting was important in that moment, because I wanted to be clear about my thoughts … that I wasn’t upset that people sent messages of concern. I’m always open to feedback and learning and growing. But I wanted to post as accountability to myself. I didn’t want to operate in fear. Fear of God, yes, but not fear of people’s opinions. I wanted to be clear that I am always operating in LOVE not fear.
I also think, in hindsight, it’s actually a GOOD example to our kids, especially to our young women, to work hard for something you believe in and be proud of a job well done. How special is it to exist in a world where you can live your dream and get excited about your work, every single day?
Very special! And, I’m smiling about it every day under my mask. <3