“It’s Just a Dance”: On Jodie Sweetin and Living a Fuller Life


Last Monday on Dancing with the StarsFull House (and now Fuller House) star Jodie Sweetin performed what judges said was her best dance ever—one week after one of her worst nights of the season. Host Tom Bergeron asked her, “You got so rattled last week. What did you do to not be rattled?”

“I had fun … it’s just a dance!” Jodie exclaimed with the full excitement of the moment. “It’s just a dance!”

I could imagine some of the producers and dancers and executives on the show thinking, “JUST A DANCE? Are you kidding? We have a multi-million-dollar brand built on JUST A DANCE. This is not JUST A DANCE!

But she was one hundred percent right. It’s not life and death. It’s a celebration. It’s fun. It’s release and joy. If she goes out and dances badly, who cares? It’s just a dance.

We’ve all been there. Whether something big or small, whether something important or relatively insignificant, there are things we attempt that rattle us. Maybe they rattle us so much that we don’t try again. Maybe just the thought of trying is so rattling that we don’t even start.

We—so many of us—have become so risk-averse in our lives. We have forgotten that mistakes and failure are nothing more than steps to success, data points on the journey to improvement, inextricable from progress. We cannot succeed without swimming through failure.

But we put so much pressure on ourselves to do things right that we end up not doing things.

We let fear drive our paths.

And our lives shrink.

And then we shrink, convincing ourselves that the small lives we have are the small lives we’re worthy of.

“It’s just a dance.”

This is a woman who has made her way through the horrible pain of addiction and the intense humiliation of public scrutiny.

This is a woman who knows how to survive.

I think her words are worth listening to.

We need to start a new conversation around the concept of “failure.” We need to take the stigma away, take the fear away.

There is no innovation, no creativity, no growth, without failure.

I remind myself of this every time I write a blog post, every time I’m about to publish a book. The fear wells up and I want to shrink and stay safe in my cocoon, not risking, not trying, and certainly not failing. But it’s just a blog post. It’s just a book. It’s just a dance.

The opposite of success is not failure. The opposite of success is not trying.

What are we not doing because we’re afraid we might fail?

What’s worth trying even if we don’t get it right the first time, or the tenth time, or ever?

Whether it’s a blog post or a book, a dance or a painting, going on a date or attending an event, joining a club or making a call, entering a competition or learning a new skill, all those things we want to try but which also terrify us—it’s just a dance.

And at the same time, it’s not just a dance: It’s living. It’s life.

Or, if I may bring the Sweetin conversation full circle, it’s about leading a Full Life. Or a Fuller Life, one might even say.

Let’s get out there and dance.


Also published at my Huffington Post blog.

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