Life Lessons from Movies

First Position

In Documentary, Movies on December 19, 2012 at 11:39 PM

First Position (2011) is a documentary by director Bess Kargman about ballet students training for and competing in the Youth America Grand Prix, where winners can get full scholarships and job contracts.

Life Lesson:

To become the best, push yourself harder than the rest.

Movie Scene:

Aran Bell, age 11, (demonstrating a foot strengthening exercise): “You’re supposed to do it as much as possible, and then do five more after you absolutely can’t do it anymore … Youth America grand Prix is coming up and I’ve been training really hard for it. Hopefully it will pay off. It feels good to be worked that hard and to be in that sort of mindset, and then have everything hurting when you come home.”

[He won “Best Overall Performance,” an award “to the dancer whose potential has been estimated as the highest in the age division.”]

  1. One difficulty in following this advice, seemingly, is that you don’t know how hard others are pushing themselves. And while you may not be able to determine exactly how many hours of classes they take, or how much they use a particular piece of equipment, you do know how hard you are pushing yourself and you can compare your level of performance with theirs. This assumes a basic linear relationship between time and effort expended vs performance level achieved. In general, the more time and effort you put into something, the better you become at it. If you are already doing all you can do, but you are not getting results, then obviously something is wrong. You may need to change teachers, change your training, or concentrate on whatever it is that is holding you back. But if you really are not taking advantage of all the opportunities you have to get better, you can bet that other people are, and it is they who become the best.

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