Karin’s Leadership Articles

Try This Surprisingly Simple Way to Raise the Bar

by | Feb 7, 2017 | By Karin Hurt, Employee Engagement & Energy, Winning Well |

Are you looking for ways to raise the bar for your team? Are you trying to motivate your team to the next level? Here’s one surprising way to raise the bar.

A Surprising Simple Way to Raise the Bar

She looked right at me and yelled across the gym floor with conviction, “You are a dancer!”

Now there are a lot of labels I’m ready to buy:  “You are a leader!” I hope so.

“You are a Mom!” Well, that one could go both ways, couldn’t it? Anything from “Good job, Mom” to “Is this your kid? What was he thinking?”

“You are a keynoter!” I’m working hard every day on my craft, so yes, I’ll take that.

But “You are a dancer?” Seriously? Not me.

But there I was in Barre class at my gym, trying to tone away the Christmas cookies, and the instructor, who clearly IS a dancer, once again looks at me.

“Dancers look at the audience not the floor.” I straightened up. I quickly glanced around the studio, everyone else was standing taller too. Hmmm… maybe she wasn’t just speaking to me.

“Dancers present their legs with a little more attitude in this move. And “YOU are a dancer. A little more attitude please.”

I watched as this entire room of stressed out moms of toddlers, athletes, executives, and folks clearly in it for their January resolution all brought a little more positive “attitude” to the dance.

A Simple Way to Raise the Bar

Want to raise the bar? Help your team get beyond the just.

“I’m just a keynoter looking to tone and be more graceful on the stage.” True. But how much faster will I get there, if I also embrace my lurking dancer?

“Oh, I’m just a tech guy without an eye for design. Just tell me exactly what you want on your website and I’ll do it, but don’t ask me to think about the way it looks.” Or, “You are a website genius. What do you think is most compelling?”

“Oh I’m just a ticket agent, I don’t make the rules.”  Or, “You are creative travel steward.”

“I’m just _____, ” is a self-limiting cop-out which squashes potential and lowers the bar for all of us. Just because you’re this, doesn’t mean you can’t serve the world more effectively by also being a little of that.

How will you raise the bar for yourself and your team in 2017?

Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt helps human-centered leaders resolve workplace ambiguity and chaos, so that they can drive innovation, productivity and revenue without burning out employees. She’s the founder and CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders, an international leadership development and training firm known for practical tools and leadership development programs that stick. She’s the award-winning author of four books including Courageous Cultures: How to Build Teams of Micro-Innovators, Problem Solvers, and Customer Advocates and Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results-Without Losing Your Soul and a hosts the popular Asking For a Friend Vlog on LinkedIn. A former Verizon Wireless executive, Karin was named to Inc. Magazine’s list of great leadership speakers. Karin and her husband and business partner, David Dye, are committed to their philanthropic initiative, Winning Wells – building clean water wells for the people of Cambodia.


  1. David Tumbarello

    “You are” – such a powerful affirmation for any person in a position of teaching, mentoring, leading. This post is a reminder that we all need a little more affirmation. What are we good at? What makes us tick? What influences us or makes us get up in the morning? How do we spread light to the world? The answer to these are a little bit of who we are. What is exciting is that “You are” discoveries can come any time, any day. A new exercise class, responding to a post, taking a detour. Doing something that might make us a little uncomfortable. Into uncharted waters. “You are” now something different. You stretched. I mean, you really, really stretched and grew a few bits taller in some new area. I can’t imagine a better compliment. And it’s all in our control!

    • Karin hurt

      David, Every time you comment, it’s like a post in itself. Thank you for your awesome contribution!

  2. LaRae Quy

    Moving past our self-limiting beliefs is crucial! You never saw yourself as a dancer, and yet you are! Too many of us stick to old, worn ruts rather than risk failure while trying something new. Great advice on being motivated to moving past who you think you are…at this moment!

    • Karin hurt

      LaRae, Thank you so much for your consistent value on LGL. You are a rock star Namaste.

  3. Alli Polin

    Love it, Karin. I’ve never been brave enough to go to Barre class but maybe I need to remind myself… I am a dancer too! (albeit not a great one). Thanks for the reminder that we are the ones who get to decide who we are and who we want to be and embody that choice.


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