After becoming a member of SaaS firm Moz in 2007, Sarah Bird shortly climbed the ladder, serving to the web optimization firm snag a spot on the  Inc. 5000 listing (No. 1,083) in 2014–the identical 12 months she turned CEO. She attributes a lot of her success to the self-discipline she discovered from her ballet instructor as an adolescent. She just lately sat down with Inc. to speak about her mentor, and to share the stunning parallels between dance class and enterprise. –As instructed to Joely Simon

I used to be raised in a conservative tradition the place being a profitable girl meant making different folks comfortable. Miss Erin, my ballet instructor, was a totally totally different form of girl. She was very direct. She was not there for our consolation. She was merely there to make us higher.

One summer season, once I was 13 or 14, Miss Erin created a “splits problem,” wherein we might sit with our left legs ahead in a cut up for 5 minutes, then change and do the precise leg for 5 minutes, after which change into the middle cut up for 5.

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I’ve gotta let you know, it was so painful. I imply, I bawled. All of us cried. Miss Erin wasn’t merciless, however she knew that for her dance firm to achieve success, she needed to confidently lead us into challenges that will stretch us mentally simply as a lot as bodily. She acknowledged that it damage: She was like, “Yeah, you are crying. So what? Do it anyway. Look, you are higher than you have been final week. It is OK to have ache and push your self.”

That concept has by no means left me. As a frontrunner, I can not keep away from conditions that appear tough and I can not let my workforce again away from moments which can be new and scary. If CEOs need to sidestep obstacles or throw their fingers up and say, “That is too exhausting,” they’re within the unsuitable job. Leaders should push folks to the sting of their skills and luxury stage; with out hitting these partitions, we will not develop.

Today, I might not be asking Mozzers to follow their splits throughout a morning assembly, however I’m asking them to lean in and push themselves to do exhausting things–like transitioning our annual web optimization convention, MozCon, from in-person to digital in a really brief time. Mozzers confirmed their resilience this 12 months. As a result of that is what “being the most effective” means.

From the October 2021 difficulty of Inc. Journal

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