The "f*** it" principle. Why you should try ballroom dance.

by Jared Meyers on 31 Dec 2020

I’ve really enjoyed learning ballroom dance over the past 2.5 years. It’s been an awesome learning experience, especially coming from a background of soccer & weight lifting.

Ballroom dance was actually recommended to me by a family friend (“Uncle Carl”) about 5 years ago, when I was visiting San Francisco. His words were “If there’s one thing you have to try, it’s ballroom dance.” This planted the seed.

Flash forward to about halfway through my second year of college: I wanted to try something new. Looking back, I was in the middle of a fairly transformative time, which ballroom fell into.

The benefits of joining ballroom dance for me were:

  • The opportunity to meet and interact with new people
  • It was very interesting to me
  • It involved physical activity
  • I could figure out what Carl was talking about

But there was one catch — activation energy. There’s always an obstacle. There’s always a reason to say no. In this case, those obstacles were generally:

  • I didn’t know anyone who did it
  • I wasn’t sure what my friends would think
  • I had to walk all the way from my apartment to the student center

That leads me to the “f*** it” principle.

First, I try to understand my upside. I ask “is this interesting/valuable/cool enough for me to want to do it?” If the answer is no, I immediately stop. Next, I try to understand my maximum downside. I ask “what’s the worst downside that could (realistically) happen?”

As long as the downside isn’t catastrophic (think death, injury, or severe pain-inducing), I go for it and act as quickly as possible. And that’s what I did when I got dressed and walked over to the student center.

This also helped me talk with and meet new people once I got there. What’s the worst that could happen? They don’t want to talk to me? What’s the best that could happen? I meet an awesome new friend. So I went and spoke with people.

Learning and practicing this principle has been a huge help in my personal and professional life.

It has helped me network more effectively since I’m not afraid to start a conversation with or reach out to people I want to talk with. Talking with presenters and pitching at startup events helped me land two of my first roles at startups. The principle also helped me learn to dance (to an extent) and make some awesome friends.

In The Heart of Life, John Mayer sings “Fear is a friend who’s misunderstood” — fear is a compass. On one pole, it’s showing you what not to do. On the other, it’s showing where you’re making excuses to avoid the things you want or need to be doing.

When you find your fears, you need to do more than just face them. Go ahead and embrace them. Learn from them. And then say "fuck it" and overcome them. That’s how you grow.

What’s something you want to do but you’re afraid or making excuses? If you can’t think of anything, I recommend ballroom dance.

Get out there and try it. You’re allowed to change your mind if you do decide it’s not for you.

Use your fears to guide your growth.

This article was likely influenced by Tim Ferriss’s Fear Setting talk, Merlin Mann’s Scared Shitless talk, and Mel Robbins’s 5 second rule.

Also want to give a big thank you to Georgia Tech’s Ballroom Dance Club for being so welcoming and teaching me how to dance.

Finally, I want to thank Carl for recommending I try ballroom dance!