July Lessons 9: Dance Like No One’s Looking!

Abundance Contribution Teamwork


Over the month of July, I will share lessons learned from my ATB journey, post my retirement announcement effective Aug. 1. The accomplishments and extraordinary results at ATB over six plus years belong to many. However, the learnings I will share are exclusively mine. I hope you will find them thought provoking, and perhaps even instructive.

Story: Those of you who have read my book, The Character Triangle, likely know this story. For folks that haven’t, it’s relevant to my last days at ATB Financial.

I started my career as a 21-year-old coach/phys ed/English teacher at an elementary/Jr. high school in Edmonton, Alberta in 1971. When I arrived, the school was average at best. Four years later, based on the exceptional teamwork of faculty, students and parents, it blossomed into an exceptional school. The morale and academic/athletic results achieved in such a short time period were remarkable. It was a genuine cultural transformation. I left in 1975 to do graduate work, and on my last day at the school, I was treated to the most memorable goodbye. As the touching tributes concluded, 400 crazy kids stood on their chairs, applauded my contributions until the principal finally wrapped things up. I sat on the stage and cried my eyes out uncontrollably. I realize, while I was the beneficiary, we were ALL applauding each other for what we had created. That very experience changed my life.

Key Point: Most people genuinely love to really dance, physically and metaphorically. They want to let go without caring if anyone is looking. Of course, they need music that inspires them to get up and move, an inviting dance floor, others to dance beside and the freedom/safety to let completely go. When a group experiences that recipe, something magical happens.

So fast forward to 2018, to acknowledge my retirement from ATB, a most wonderful group of ATBers (led by Stephanie Horne), brings in a 70-person choir to use music as a way to thank me. In the middle of culture day and 140 new hires, this incredible choir belts out one song after another, and the musical “thank you” feels like a “chair stand.” And once again, decades later, the tears wouldn’t let go. In perfect foreshadowing from decades earlier, I fully understand that while I’m blessed to be a focal point, the celebration is about ALL of us and what we have accomplished together over six and a half years of my tenure. I can tell you without exaggeration, ATB is on the global stage with the greatest of organizations. It took 80 years, and we did it together. We are measurably one of the best companies in the world.

One fun characteristic of the various groups that I’ve lead over the decades, is that we have enjoyed great music and dancing at every stop I’ve been on. Dancing as a team sets the stage for feeling what it’s like when people are dancing to the same music , moving in a uniquely distinctive way while creating magical harmony as a group. Truly something transformative happens. Dancing together at work is hardly a well-promoted or researched strategy. Yet, I know it lets people FEEL what it’s like to be all-in. And, you need to feel the dance to transcend it. Just dance! You’re worth it!

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Find a place to work where you can fully let go and dance your ass off. If it’s too much to expect physically, then at least know you can experience the metaphorical notion of it.
  2. Leave it all on the floor. Dance till you need tissues to wipe your brow, and eventually your tears.

And today, July 31, 2018, I step off the ATB dance floor, leaving the next song for others. How glorious it will be. Thank you for the incredible dance, and the gift of being able to leave both my sweat and tears on that floor!

P.S., the picture above is Emilia, our soon to be 4-year-old granddaughter. The ability to let go and just dance is fully resident in all of us. Go Millie!!

Dancing my ass off in Personal Leadership,


One Millennial View: I mean, how can I not take another opportunity to embed the greatest on-screen dancing to grace the silver screen? Make sure to pick up some moves from the only on-going gag on LorneRubis.com. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis