Life: Being In It to Win It

tony winner

It was our plan right from the beginning, from the day we met. “Let’s get together and figure out how we’re going to win this thing.” That’s what we both said.

And win it, we did!

The Paramount Theatre in Anderson has a yearly fundraiser they call “Dancing Like the Stars.” The organizers pair local, prominent community members with area dance instructors to raise funds to maintain the historic theatre. This year marked my fourth year participating in the event and I was paired with a local pediatrician, Tony McHerron. We quickly settled on dancing a Samba to Ariana Grande’s “Problem,” a song that allowed us to showcase some fun and funky hip-hop as well. We worked around Tony’s very busy schedule at the hospital by being creative and flexible. We learned the routine and practiced once a week for 12 weeks and during that time we became fast friends. We had an unspoken agreement. We knew from the very beginning we were going to have fun with it, and we did. After our award-winning performance we were so excited, we high-fived and hugged on stage. We couldn’t contain ourselves! When the results came in, we’d won both the Judge’s Choice award and the Audience Choice Award – two big mirror ball trophies!

paramount-theaterA few days later, I realized in hindsight that the winning had begun long before our stage performance.

You see, winning has a lot to do with how you approach life on a regular basis. You see it in certain people. Certainly not everyone, but a select few who, when you meet them, you can tell they’ve got something important figured out, something everyone should know, something we might call charisma, joie de vivre, duende…My partner Tony is one of those people. In the 12 weeks we worked together, he never complained, never worried, never got frustrated or out of whack over what we were doing. Instead, he brought a certain joy to our lessons – a joy that made it fun to do something that might otherwise be uncomfortable; dance in front of a thousand people, among them, people you work with every day.

When I think of really successful people, people I admire, I think of those who are having the most fun with their lives. They don’t let worry, fear, and frustration get the better of them. They get out there and do the things they love, even in the face of life’s so-called challenges. When I was a kid, I used to envy the kids on the playground who were having the most fun. I wanted to be with them, just like them. Things haven’t changed much since then. Having fun creates a certain light-heartedness that most of us still crave even though we’ve grown up.

Because, sometimes the things we do, our jobs, our home life, our relationships and hobbies get a little too serious. We start putting weight on things, expectations, requirements that they turn out a certain way. Life begins to feel heavy. I think the pressure derails us, causes us to stop having fun with our lives. Whenever we invest big: our time, our money, something we call “sacrifice,” it seems as if so much is at stake. We think seriousness is in order, but I think it’s not – especially for the things we really love and care about. I think it is better to figure out how to have fun with life, to lighten the atmosphere, bring some joy to the scene. The truth is, people still see our commitment even if we are having fun – in fact, maybe more so.

I’ve been thinking about these things a lot lately. I’ve been thinking about the gift of these lessons, about taking myself and the things I do a little less seriously, about having more fun, about a doctor who can still dance even after pulling an all nighter with a premature delivery.

Winning is mostly about having fun with life. Whatever you are doing, if you’re having fun with it, smiling, laughing, and joking, like a kid would do, you are a winner. Do this every day, no matter what, and you will have won at the biggest game we have going for us right now, LIFE.


And that, my friends is why things turned out the way they did. From beginning to end, Tony and I simply had fun with our lessons, our practices and ultimately our performance.

What did the judges and the majority of the house audience see that made them vote in our favor?

I’m guessing they saw two people doing what they love – loving what they do. We brought joy and fun – we wanted the people to smile, to laugh, to have fun WITH us.

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