Every few months or so, I am reminded of something I observed many years ago while a business colleague and I met for a cocktail after work in Philadelphia. Tony and I decided on a bar near his office to enjoy a good chat.

Dancing Begins

At about 10 p.m., I observed this attractive and confident-looking lady in her mid-20s arrive at the bar by herself. Finding it unusual that she was alone, I mentioned it to Tony. He said, “She is a pretty girl to be on her own. Something must be up!”

Unbeknownst to me, this bar doubled as a discotheque, and we the place gained more energy around 11 p.m. Before long the pretty girl was having a conversation with a man, and her dance night began.

For the next 90 minutes, different men asked her to dance, and she obliged. From what I could tell, she didn’t take any breaks, and she wasn’t drinking. She was there only to dance.

Around midnight, Tony and I decided to leave the bar. Interestingly, the pretty girl also called it quits around that time. She made her way to the exit and departed alone.

The Point

I’ve told this story several times to my friends because I was surprised to see a confident young lady walk into a place alone. It was obvious she didn’t know anyone. In fact, she might have been from outside Philly. I’m not sure.

Even though she didn’t have an acquaintance, she had a mission. She was a good dancer, and that’s all that mattered to her. Heck, even if she lacked dancing skills, her beauty would make up for it.

My Takeaway

There are times when I am nervous about doing something different. I’m in my comfort zone, and I don’t want to get out of it. I might be asked to present a challenging topic to stakeholders that I know will challenge me. Instead of thinking of an excuse, I recall the brave young lady who confidently walked into the bar and held her own.

You need to focus on where you have a competitive edge. You all have a competitive skill;exploit it. In some cases, you need to make that skill better, such as public speaking or leading projects. It’s imperative that you do the back-end work to perfect our core abilities.

The young lady was an excellent dancer, and she commanded attention. Tony and I could tell that she was in her zone. She was not new to this environment. Even then, though, for her to walk into an establishment full of strangers was impressive. She focused on her competitive advantage, which was dancing.

I suppose someday I might develop a sales training course, and I know the perfect example to use as an icebreaker:

Hello, Everyone! I know every one of you wants to be the best salesperson in this company. I have the secret for you, and I want to share it with you. This story is true, and if you apply what I’m about to tell you, success is inevitable. Many years ago, Tony and I were having a drink in a Philly bar, and we noticed this attractive young lady walk in …