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Doctor Tango

The Tango Hour

My day began at 4:00 am, unable to sleep, going over my lecture, staring at the sliver of light cast through my window shade onto the ceiling.

After showering and preparing to dispatch my children for school, the phone rang. It was Jorge Niedas (of 21 Tango) calling from O'Hare airport. His flight would be delayed due to weather, but he changed to another flight, which would arrive in Cleveland at 10:39 am. (My lecture would last only one hour, beginning at 10:30!) After multiple phone calls, including one to Continental Airlines, we discovered that there was no crew for the 6:15 flight and that weather would not affect the later flight. I also called the limo service alerting them to the change in arrival and the need for HASTE back to The Cleveland Clinic from the airport. I deliberated about the expense and how much I was gambling, since he might not even make it for a finale! I verified the arrival gate and called Jorge back. I entrusted him to proceed if he felt that the flight was boarding in timely fashion. I instructed him about "unchecking" his ticket if he decided to cancel. I described the layout of Hopkins airport and the distance of gate from pickup point. He decided to change into his dance clothes at O'Hare in order to save time.

I changed in and out of dance clothes...wondering about the apparel if I wasn't going to dance after all! I left my house 30 minutes later than intended and experienced severe urinary urgency despite frequent visits to BR thus far. My urge turned into stomach cramping when I retrieved messages from my cellular, en route to the hospital. There was a message from my web designer, informing me that my web domain was incorrect and that my brochures that were sent to printer the night before, were incorrect.

I took a deep breath and wondered about my introduction...and my mind went blank. "Don't worry, I said to myself, you'll remember what to say, when you get in front of them..."

I called my secretary and instructed her to confirm all of the lookouts for the dancer...the driver, the escort to lecture center, his agent in Chicago...I also asked her to contact some folks about a possible performance after my lecture. (God, am I an optimist!)

I arrived. First order of business...I see, coincidentally my marketing woman who is in attendance with her sister company owner. Stop the presses! I explain the website issue, she reassured me that the printer had not yet started! I inform the organizers about my dance partner who had not yet left O'Hare. They look amazed at my composure. My heart is skipping beats. I use the BR, but not again. I am feeling better.. I scoped the joint, warm faces, great room, nice dance floor. I will be okay. I sit through the lecture before mine.

It is my turn. I explain to the audience of entrepeneurs how and why tango captivates me. I explained the use of this TANGO metaphor in all aspects of our lives, which, like Tango, are spontaneous and NOT choreographed. To emphasize this point, I was flying in a dancer from Chicago, with whom I had shared only one dance, a year ago. "I don't even remember what he looks like...all I remember is his beautiful embrace...indeed, I had to call his agent last week to ask about his height, so I could choose my shoes..."The audience was surprised. I also walked across the dance floor, waving my cell phone, stating, "From this point forward, the only cell phone permitted to ring is my own, with information about my tango partner's location!" Laughter. (Many years ago, I had attended a public speaking course given by two spin-doctors, former NBC anchors. They talked about giving the audience something to look forward to...a little intrigue....Well, this was the intrigue, kicked up a few notches! They would have been proud.)

I described the rule of NO anticipation. I described the sabotage one can create in anticipating a pattern of behavior in negotiations, in employee expectations, in our children or significant others.

I described the spirituality of the embrace and the essence of a shared intention. The delicious rush of feeling such power and yet such vulnerability, as when we fall in love.

Dancing with your heart in front of hers/his...emphasized the quest for happiness. It is a by-product of helping others and not something to be acquired. I cited studies demonstrating the happiness level of people in simpler settings, with far less material wealth. I also cited the tragic results of a UCLA ACE poll, with entering college freshmen ranking wealth as their number one priority...above 19 other parameters including raising family, helping others, dedication to a skill or craft...

What does surrender mean to you? I purposely posed the question towards the men, first. Of course they used negative definitions: weakness, defeat, relinquishing control. I next projected a slide of myself close up, nearly upside down, diving backwards in a lunging dip with a dance partner.

"I always surrender when I dance...and I never feel WEAK!" I declared.

I then demonstrated that surrender is indeed a sign of strength and even more so, a form of deep spiritual faith. It is an affirmation of our resilience and a nurturer of our integrity. Earlier I had embraced audience members, asking them if they felt protected, respected and not coerced, when I lead them in simple steps. I also embraced one bear of a man, and asked him to describe what it felt like to be held in trust...Would he seek out my vulnerability to attack. "Is this the way you carry out your business transactions..."If you want this wonderful embrace and this abandon, you must be worthy through integrity.

At this point we would have had two dances! AY!

Aura walked to the podium and handed me a note. The dancer is ten minutes away!

Next I talked about female narcissism.

Self-indulgence destroys the dance. Self-obsession is addiction...self-importance. Eventually, isolation, and no dance at all.

A few more chapters and I ended with ZEN TANGO. My message "We cannot possess the things we most treasure."Again the recurring theme of being in the moment. I spoke about my spin on the glass half filled and how I now saw the importance, as a Zen master once taught, about the EMPTY cup....and I reminded all of them to empty their cups, filled with opinions, prejudice and bad habits, before embarking on the new journey which began this morning at this seminar.

The doors opened. Jorge, escorted by Aura, was carrying his suits on a hanger and a large duffle bag. He hurriedly changed into his tango shoes, as I shared his biosketch: Formally trained in classical ballet, tango dancing since childhood, performing in South America and USA...

He stepped toward the floor. We kissed and embraced. I asked if he'd like to warm up. He looked charmingly at me, then at the audience, and said "no."

The music began. He held my hand and led me to the center of the floor. He lead like a dream...emphasizing pauses by pressing his inner left knee against the outside of my right. It felt good. I know it looked good. A second dance, when everyone was supposed to be leaving, by this time, well past 11:30, and the crowd was frozen. He lifted me upon his foot, and pivoted. People gasped. We ended with a drama dip! My head falling to within inches above the floor. YES...I do surrender.

We organized our luggage and after many warm congratulatory hugs, we rushed to the lobby of the Crile building. There we were welcomed by the PR office's secretary who, the day before, gave me permission to tango before Jorge would have to leave for the airport, much too soon. (1:00 pm! #$%&*&*%$#@)

We began dancing. We had so much room, but everything was a blur to me. The dance was so beautiful and as it should be, we only focused on each other. He lunged, threw me sideways. I just abandoned my legs to go 180 degrees at the level of his shoulders, only keeping my knees together and toes pointed. He pivoted, shifted my body, and I rested across his genuflected knee. We looked at each other.

Very satisfied, when thunderous applause erupted. He looked up, his eyes widened and a broad boyish smile came over his face. He helped me to my feet, I turned, and couldn't believe the crowd...surrounding us in the lobby, and above us on two more floors of clinic balconies!!!! He whispered, "You are famous," and held my hand up to his chest and bowed to me...I bowed to him...BUT I really wanted to kneel, pay homage and kiss his ring!

We danced more...drenched in perspiration. In between some dances I would chug water while he would graciously take lady spectators to our large granite dance floor. He was charming. We had a quick bite, and I saw him to the door. With ruddy hot cheeks, sweat still dripping down my back and hair tumbling in every direction, I proceeded to my office where I changed clothes just in time to begin procedure clinicócystoscopies, biopsies, etc. Almost instantly, I went from Dr. Tango to Dr. Potts...I began performing the third cystoscopy when my patient winked at me..."You are my dancing doctor! I saw you downstairs...You are really something!"

And the day wasn't over...a supper obligation became a wonderful chance for my second wind. Needless to say, I slept like a rock!


"Everyone thought it was beautiful."

"Your dance partner is very handsome. Is he married?"

"What do you mean you didn't even rehearse!!????"

"Confident sexy women loved watching you. Insecure women were jealous!"

"The security guards were going crazy...the crowd was mesmerized."

"Thanks for sharing your talents with all of us."

"You ARE Dr. Tango!"

And from me: Thank you all for cheering me on and asking me how it went!

What is business but a dance between two companies?
What is life but a dance between people?
— Jeannette Potts, M.D. - Dr. Tango
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