Responsibility…Who? What? When? Where?

Lee's Summit JournalOctober 23, 2013 

I believe it is quite appropriate for me to be writing an article on responsibility, especially given the amount of things I am responsible for in my life. It is the Lee’s Summit CARES Character Trait for October, and as a person very involved in this community, is an easy topic for me to write on.

Throughout the years I have collected books that deal with motivational topics. I enjoy being motivated by the quips, antics, speeches and stories from people of all walks of life about motivational topics. One of my favorite books is one titled “212º – The Extra Degree.” The book’s message is one that deals with commitments and why we do what we do; commitments that turn into responsibilities far greater than we imagined. The book’s main focus is about turning up the heat and being responsible for results. It is full of thoughts, facts, and reflections that motivate me to be more keenly aware of my responsibilities.

Water boils at 212 degrees.

Once water boils, it becomes steam, which can power a train. There are so many days when I feel like a steam train speeding through the many activities that are in my life. For those who know me, know that I am full-on with just about everything I do! I basically know two speeds: on and off. People ask me where I get my energy to do so much, and my answer is always this: I was given an enormous amount of energy at birth, and have hopefully put it to good use so far in my life.

The biggest responsibility I have is to my family.

My parents live in Lee’s Summit and are 76 and 78. I have one daughter here in Lee’s Summit, a grandson who is 5, and a daughter who lives in NYC. They are the “who” in my life…the ones who keep me grounded.

The “what” of my life is my business and the families that entrust me with their children. As an educator for over 30 years, the role I play in my students’ lives is unequivocally the most important work I do. I am humbled by the hundreds of students I have the privilege to work with each year, and never for a moment do I forget the enormous responsibility that I have to them. As a dance educator, I see students for many years in a row, and have had students who danced for over 15 years with me, then received their college degrees and came back to teach alongside me.

Meetings are a huge part of my daily activity.

Not a day goes by that I don’t have a meeting of some sort. I enjoy these thoroughly, as they put me in touch with the fine people in our community. Keeping track of when each meeting is can be a challenge. I have the meetings in my phone, on a giant master calendar and in a day timer – all ways to keep me organized so that my responsibilities are met with little problems. Since my meetings are typically all over the city, keeping track of the “where” can be a challenge, also.

Responsibility never ends…it’s always there…as everyone has something or somebody they are responsible for

Being responsible is a good feeling. Each and every day I challenge my dance students to be the very best they can be: to turn up the heat, act responsibly, and be a person of action! I see so many great children, adults and senior citizens doing marvelous work in Lee’s Summit.


Phyllis Balagna currently serves on the Lee’s Summit CARES Character Council as the leader of the Business sector. Phyllis owns her own performing arts studio, Steppin’ Out, which recently celebrated 25 years in business.

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