I am not the same dancer with all partners. Nope. I wish that I were, but in real life, that is not how it works. I react differently depending on who I’m sharing the dance with.

Some partners cast a spell that convinces me I can do anything on the dance floor. My body feels loose and free. I follow like I have a psychic link with my leader. My creativity has no bounds and ideas come out of nowhere. I am at my best.

With other men, my body turns to tin. I am the Tin man dancing Salsa. I clink and clonk as I struggle with stiff arms and legs. Nothing works right. I spin around the dance floor asking,”What’s happening to me?” I don’t recognize myself. My creativity is gone. I am trapped in a tin can.

Why? I shake my head, shrug my shoulders, and wonder. A typical Salsa song lasts only five minutes. How can I change so much in such a short period of time?

The partner I dance best with laughs at our mistakes. He smiles even when I miss his lead. He holds my hands with just enough grip to give clear directions, and yet it’s a light touch so I don’t feel restricted. This type of leader gives me opportunities to play with the music and dance on my own.

On the flip side, I dance my worst when my mistakes seem to upset my partner. My body stiffens if he tries to correct me verbally. If he grips my hands too hard, my arms tighten. If he never lets my hands go, then rigor mortis sets in. I wait for some opportunity to express myself, but it never happens.

Could it be that certain types of people bring out the best in me? If it can have such a profound effect on the dance floor, then how much more of an impact could those closest to me have in shaping my life?

I am at my best surrounded by people who encourage creativity, laugh at mistakes, and appreciate teamwork. I become less of myself around those who are critical, controlling, and leave little room for self expression.

I think I’ll keep this in mind as I go forward in life.

What about you? Who brings out the best in you?

My advice? Dance with them often.

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