We had the good fortune of connecting with Shannon Wilson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shannon, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I have been a studio owner for over 23 years and the balance in my life and how I think about balance has changed drastically over the years. When I first started out, I used to think there actually was such a thing as balance – that I could split my time, energy and attention equally between work and home. I tried really hard to give equal attention to my work, myself and my family and I failed miserably. I was unhappy and stressed, but just kept thinking, if only I could find more balance. You hear all the time about work-life balance, so I assumed it was a real thing, just something I was struggling to grasp and that if I put more attention on “finding balance” then I would feel more energized, more focused, happier, less stressed. I went through years of this struggle, because when you are first starting out in a business it requires a lot of your attention, time and energy. Some days I spent 16-18 hours at work, came home to tell my husband I loved him and crashed. I missed my first child’s first steps because I was at work. I would come home from a long day, lay on the floor of his room while he was asleep so I could have some time with him that day. In the early days, I always left open Friday mornings to spend with my kids, and in my mind I justified that for the time I missed with them while I was building my business. Somehow though I still wasn’t feeling fulfilled, or like my life was in balance. I have since learned that balance is a myth. There is no way to equally distribute your time, attention and energy to everything that is important to you. The scale will never be level. At times in my life, the business has required more attention than my family and vice versa. And I cannot discount myself. At times self-care must take priority so that I can be the best version of me for everyone and everything in my life. After 23 years of working through these struggles, finding things that work and things that don’t work, I no longer look to have balance in my life – I look for intention and purpose. While I’d like to say that I set a schedule and stick to it for the whole year, the complexities of life, my husband’s travel schedule, busy times at the dance studio and my children’s schedules don’t allow for this. I have learned to take one week at a time, and set my schedule for what is needed from me each week. One week I may spend more time at the office because my husband is not traveling and can manage the kids, dinner, etc. Another week, my time at work may be limited because more is required of me on our home front. Whatever my week may bring, the promise I make to myself is that I will be intentional and focused with my time. When I am at work, I will be focused on only what is happening in front of me at work. When I am at home, I will be focused on my family and not distracted by things left over from work. When I am purposeful with my time, energy and attention, I am a much happier, more fulfilled person. My kids and husband get the best of me at home, and my staff gets the best of me at work. It’s not a perfect system. We’re human, so there are times when work spills over into family and family spills over into work, but knowing the best use of my time each week and being purposeful with that helps me set the appropriate boundaries to ensure I can be the best version of myself wherever I am.

What should our readers know about your business?
At Classic Image Dance (CID) we believe in teaching leadership & life skills and helping to build life-long relationships through excellence in dance. We are a studio that focuses on community – community within our 4-walls, and our greater community by spreading joy and providing opportunities for our students to give back to the community they live in. Dance is for everyone and I would love for children everywhere to have access to the arts. My mentor Misty Lown says it best, “We don’t teach kids to make great dancers. We teacher dance to make great kids.” CID is the second studio I have owned (my first was in Colorado for over 16 years). In the last 4 years since I purchased CID, so many great things have happened. We have expanded our Children’s Program (ages 2-6), we have become more involved with the community, we are a Taking Shape affiliated studio, offering the Star Leadership program to our students and we’ve implemented character traits and education into our curriculum. Our staff receives consistent training in customer relations, health, nutrition, injury prevention and of course the latest in dance education; we are a YPAD (Youth Protection Advocates in Dance) certified studio, with all staff background checked and CPR/First Aid certified, and we quickly adapted to online learning during the spring of 2020 to offer instruction to our students without any interruptions. What I am most proud of though, is the team we have created that fully understands and lives our mission and values and are dedicated to providing excellence in dance, where every child matters. No matter the age or ability – we focus on teaching the whole child and helping to create kids with healthy bodies, healthy minds and healthy hearts, and for being a place of community, connection and comfort during this unprecedented time. The road that has gotten me to where I am today is a long and winding one. It’s full of ups and downs and twists and turns, but a journey I am grateful for. I’m sure there have been more hard times than easy, but it’s the moments of joy, achievement and little wins that have kept me going. Keeping my WHY and the big picture in front of me is what has kept me going. My WHY is my children, and showing them the importance of following your dreams, persevering, falling down and getting back up (many times) and being committed enough to keep going when things get hard. I can’t think of any greater lessons I would want to teach my children and I can’t imagine a better way to teach them than by personal example. Personal growth and the importance of always being a learner is the best lesson I have learned throughout the years. In order to be the best leader I can be, I need to constantly be working to grow myself. Once you stop learning, you stop growing. Once you stop growing, you have silently called it quits. Being a business owner is multi-faceted and it’s important to be in tune to all aspects of your business, but most importantly to focus on personal relationship skills, because people are your most important asset. At Classic Image Dance we believe dance teaches life lessons. We believe every child has special gifts to share and should be celebrated. We believe every child should have access to the arts and that all children matter. And we believe that dance is for everyone.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I spend most of my time in the East Valley, but I love when I get to show someone around the city because it gives me time to explore new things too. We have some pretty amazing hikes (I love the waterfall hikes) around the area, so we may go to the San Tan or Superstition Mountains, and if we were feeling adventurous to Camelback to see some of Arizona’s beauty. We would definitely make a day trip to Sedona – one of my favorite spots for sight seeing, fun restaurants and tourist-y shopping. We would explore restaurants in Downtown Gilbert, Downtown Chandler and Old Town Scottsdale. For shopping we would go to Fashion Square Mall, and my place of comfort is Seville Golf & Country Club where we would enjoy happy hour, time by the pool (if the weather was right) and possibly some golfing.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many, but in the last few years Misty Lown, with More Than Just Great Dancing has offered so much encouragement, support and guidance in building a business, but still being able to put family first. Her words, “when you lose on the home front nothing else matters,” stick with me every day. The entire community at More Than Just Great Dancing, from the staff to my fellow studio owners, has played a huge part in my success and continued growth today.

Website: www.classicimagedance.com
Instagram: www.instagram.com/classicimagedance
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shannonwilsondance/
Twitter: @CIDance5678
Facebook: www.facebook.com/classicimagedance

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