How Running A Dance Studio Is Like Saving Starfish

By DSOA Studio Growth Coach, Jane Grech.

Let me ask you a question.

Can you tell me the name of the last 5 winners of the Nobel Peace prize or the last 5 winners of the Pulitzer prize?

On the other hand, can you name one teacher who has changed your way of thinking or made a difference in your life?


Can you think of a colleague or friend that has changed your way of thinking or made a difference in your life?


Can you think of a family member who has changed your way of thinking or made a difference in your life?

You don’t have to win a Nobel peace prize to change the world.

Often we diminish who we are because we don’t feel that we are in that first category of people, but I’m guessing not many of you actually remembered the names in the first category!!!

Making a difference in what may seemingly be a small way one on one way is both valid and meaningful.

You don’t have to be famous to make a difference.

Let me share a story which serves as a perfect example of this.

Just two weeks ago, I met a parent of the dance school for lunch to discuss her daughters future plans. This mum confided in me that her daughter is having a hard time at school this year. She is year 5, and we all know how icky girls can be…. she shared with me that as a mum she looks forward to the days she sends her to ballet, because she knows that while she may pick up a child from school who is sad because she has had a difficult day, that while she may leave a child at the studio who is not the positive happy child she knows she can be, that when she picks her up in an hour, that she has her girl back.

What an opportunity we have, as her teacher, to make a difference in this childs life, not just once, but over and over again.

AND more to that, not only are we making a difference in this childs life, but we are making a difference in her mothers life as well – giving her a couple of hours after each ballet lesson to enjoy listening to her bubbly spirited daughter who has had an amazing time in class.

Because I know and focus on my purpose, I am more awake to notice when I am successfully fulfilling it in daily life. Because I know that I want to make a difference in peoples lives, when this mum shared this story with me, I was tuned in to receive the message. And when I continually receive positive feedback, in small but frequent doses, this is just the thing to keep me motivated and energised in times where others may give up. Even if I have only made a difference in that child’s life, and no one else’s, I have succeeded in fulfilling my purpose. Even if I have only inspired and encouraged just one of you here in this room today, I have succeeded fulfilling my purpose.

You can choose to do small things each day ….not to be the person that wins the Nobel Peace prize, but rather be the person on someone’s second list.  You can make a difference one student, one employee, one person, at a time.

Do you know the story of the Starfish? It’s truly one of my favorites and I share it any chance I can.

A man was walking along a deserted beach at sunset. As he walked he could see a young boy in the distance. He grew nearer and noticed that the boy kept bending down, picking something up and throwing it into the water.

Time and again he kept hurling things into the ocean.

As the man approached even closer, he was able to see that the boy was picking the starfish that had been washed up onto the beach and, once at a time, he was throwing them back into the water.

When the man asked the boy what he was doing, the boy replied, ‘I am throwing these washed up starfish back into the ocean, or else it will die.’

‘But’, said the man. ‘you cant possibly save them all. There are thousands on this beach, and this must be happening on hundreds of beaches along the coast. You can’t possibly make a difference. 

The boy looked down and frowned for a moment. Then he bent down to pick up another starfish, smiling as he threw it back into the sea. 

‘I made a huge difference to that one!’ 

You may never know the full extent of the positive impact you have had on someone.

If you think you might not be making the kind of difference you intend, think again.

You probably are.


Jane Grech is the author of Dance Studio Success as well as the owner of the Jane Grech Dance Centre in Adelaide. She is also a loving wife, mother of 3 gorgeous children and our DSOA resident expert when it comes to studio culture and leadership.

Join Jane and our vibrant community of Dance Studio Owners inside the Dance Studio Owners Association for exclusive training, coaching and resources to help you grow your studio and get your life back.





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