It’s a hot summer day and despite the top notch AC sprawling down from the ventilators, I’m drenched in sweat.
I don’t have a genetic condition that makes me sweat profusely. I just have anxiety that is fierce at times—especially when branching outside of my comfort zone.
I was about to take my first salsa dancing class. If anyone knew me, salsa dancing for me is about as likely as walking on water is a reality.
Nervous, shy, paranoid, and fearful of social interactions is my normal default setting.
The dance floor is crowded with Marc Anthony blaring while beautiful women are being gracefully lead and spun around.
This looks like Dancing With the Starsand I’m the buster who is sticking out like a sore thumb.
I head to the restroom and take a few deep breaths to gather my composure and allow my hyperactive brain to slow down.
That night, I managed to get three dances in. Most importantly, that night demonstrated that I’m capable of overcoming my struggles.
After getting passed the obvious benefits of being around a bunch of pretty women—salsa dancing is slowly teaching me about being a better man in life, relationships, and business.
Here are five lessons that have improved my life and will improve any man’s life.
1. Learning to be okay with being uncomfortable
We hear all the time about leaving our comfort zone and taking the leap into uncertainty (easier said than done).The unknown is frightening. Sure, there may be something life changing on the other end, but we don’t know that.
We live in an unprecedented time of comfort and ease. I’m as guilty as the next person with being spoiled and taking advantage of this current system.
Our vegetables are pre-chopped. Baking cookies is as simple as opening the packet. We have central ac in the summer to keep us from feeling a smidgen of discomfort. The heat is blasting on high in the winter to prevent us from a slither of cold.
There’s an addiction with comfort.
But, discomfort, struggle, grinding, stress, and leaving the lands of comfort is ultimately the only thing that will allow you to improve and grow.
I’m slowly learning what it takes to be a modern-day man, what it takes to attract a woman (not a immature girl), and building a business. If I stick with comfort and what’s known, then I’m not only cheating myself out of maximal growth—I’m cheating the world and my future woman out of the best version of myself.
Physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally—there are extraordinary benefits to intentionally leaving your comfort zone in pursuit of growth. If we stop every time something is uncomfortable, then our ability to learn and expand is nullified.
If you want something different out of life, you’re going to have to do something different than what you’ve been doing to achieve it.
While I’m out on the dance floor learning new patterns and struggling, I’m not only becoming a better dancer—I’m becoming a better man by facing my fears and struggles head on. Facing your fears and struggles are traits that are essential to succeeding in business, fitness, and having a fulfilling relationship.
2. Learning to Lead
Growing up over the past decade, I’m use to loud and boisterous clubs where there’s a bunch of red tape just to get a dance with a woman.
In salsa dancing, the male leads one hundred percent of the way. You walk up confidently, smile, ask the woman to dance while offering your hand, and lead her onto the dance floor.
Salsa dancing much like life, business, and relationships requires men to be assertive, confident in their decisions, and communicate their intentions clearly.
Learning to lead on the dance floor taught me that strong and effective communication manifests from our body language and doesn’t always require words because on the dance floor, you’re only communicating with the girl through your body movements and fingertips.
Leading on the dance floor taught me to get comfortable saying and doing what I want without second guessing myself.
This mentality translates over to living a fulfilling life. If you don’t state and claim what you want out of life, you’re only going to be left with the leftovers (or no dance partner in the salsa world).
3. Improving social skills
From approaching to persuasion to becoming a world-class conversationalist—communication is essential to being a successful man in today’s age. Social skills improve every aspect of your life.
Introducing myself to new people forced me to expand my social skills.
As someone naturally reserved and hesitant to make the first move, approaching a new girl to dance with each song helped improved my communication skills and prepare me for my health & wellness workshops and when I publicly speak.
4. Helped me get out of my head
Critically thinking is part of my profession. While being a highly analytical person has its perks, learning to salsa dance under this same mentality isn’t going to advance you very far.
In salsa, you can’t be in your head and truly thrive on the dance floor. You instead need to be outside and feeling the music while trying not to control everything.
I was nervous about asking women to dance because I thought they would think I was lame for only knowing a couple of moves. I felt less than because I struggled at times with the basic steps.
But, just as I’m learning in life that when it comes to dealing with our self-worth–we are not our thoughts or feelings. That thought that you’re thinking isn’t close to being a reality. That feeling that you have isn’t close to being a reality.
Feelings and thoughts are something that we have, not something that we are.
5. Taking action before I was “ready”
With some shaky self-confidence and a fixed mindset that didn’t believe in growth, learning how to salsa dance felt like the next sequel to Mission Impossible.
Add to the fact that I’m a 200-pound man who has self-identified with being a shy wallflower with tin man hips most of my life.
How did I go from no confidence to actually being in the middle of the dance floor performing fancy turn patterns?
Taking action before I was ready.
Often times, there’s something that we really want such as asking that woman out, seeking a promotion, starting our dream business, and beginning to exercise. But we don’t give ourselves permission to take action.
We’re paralyzed in fear, fixated on planning (aka procrastinating), drowning in information, or waiting on the motivational fairy to inspire us.
Fear doesn’t dissipate—you learn to cooperate with it. The perfect plan is non-existent. You already have enough. You only become confident once you build some momentum which is only possible through taking action.
Whether you’re chasing a dream girl, a fitness goal, a business goal, or striving to be an amazing dancer—just take some type of action and let right now be the perfect moment.
This article was originally published at The Good Men Project.