How We Learn To Dance


It is such an awesome privilege to have you on the FamilyMatics column once again. Today, I will like to begin with a story I adapted from; it’s about plants and roots. It goes thus:

Once upon a time, there were two neighbors living next to each other. Both of them had planted different plants in their garden. One, a retired teacher was giving a small amount of water to his plants and didn’t always have to give them a full attention, while the other neighbor, an insurance agent, had given a lot of water to his plants and looked after them too well.

One day, there was a heavy rain and wind due to a minor storm. Both neighbors came out to inspect the damage to their garden. The insurance agent saw that his plants came off from the roots and were totally destroyed. But, the retired teacher’s plants were not damaged at all and were standing firm.

The insurance agent was surprised to see it, he went to the retired teacher and asked, “We both grew the same plants together, I actually looked after my plants better than you did for yours, and even gave them more water. Still, my plants came off from the roots, while yours didn’t. How is that possible?”

The retired teacher smiled and said, “You gave your plants more attention and water, but because of that they didn’t need to work themselves for it.  You made it easy for them.  While I gave them just an adequate amount of water and let their roots search for more.   And, because of that, their roots went deeper and that made their position stronger.  That is why my plants survived”.

This is an interesting story on survival and adaptation, especially as it affects family life. And it also tells us how people learn to do the things they do, especially the kind of “dance steps” (behavioral patterns) they lead in their families.

One major way people learn to dance is by observation. The retired teacher had observed how plants learn to survive, and he just played along. We are products of the people and environment that raised us. And until we observe the patterns and make amendments where necessary, we will keep reproducing the results of the people from our past, even if we do not like those results.

Secondly, we also learn to dance by instinct. By this, I mean we just imagine what could be done, and then go ahead to do it. There is always a first person to do whatever we see in our world.

And this leads to the third way we learn: Trials and Errors. One of the good things about life is the ability to pick ourselves up when we fall. However, there are some falls that may lead to termination of life. Like in the story, the insurance agent could take a cue from what did not work, and make it better the next time.

Fourthly, we can also learn to dance by training. This means that we take a conscious effort to observe over a period of time, someone who is skillful in it, and acquire same skills with practice and patience. If the insurance agent had known that the retired teacher is more skillful, it would have been wise for him to go and learn how not to lose his garden. The question then is, are there people around you who are succeeding in the family way or who know how best to make winning moves, that you can subscribe to their training program? Experience has shown that indeed, prevention is better than cure.

The last way people learn to dance (remember what this means?) is by conditioning. This involves one or a combination of observation, instinct, trial and error, and training. Whatever we see, hear, feel or do over an extended period of time soon becomes a way of life.

Dear friend, what patterns have you observed in your own family? Where and how did you learn them? Once again, are they empowering or disempowering you in building a family that can stand the test of time? If the pattern continues the way it is, will you be fulfilled at the outcome?

You must first recognize the patterns before you can rectify it. This recognition comes in four (4) major ways, and I will be shedding more light on this next week.

Do have a productive week.

I value you.

Dele Ayo Bankole

He is an Associate Family Systems Engineering (FSE) Practitioner, a family and behavioral change therapist. He is the Principal Family Strategist at the High-Impact Family Centre. He helps to design unique strategies for wholesome family and organizational experience. He can be reached on Phone/WhatsApp (08064980357) and Email, If you have any comments, feedback, questions, or suggestions, he will love to hear from you.



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