We just got back from the North American Irish Dance Championships in Orlando. It really taught me a lesson about courage.
I was very proud of both my sons, aged 13 and 11, who competed. But my 11-year-old gave me a new understanding of how to approach a challenge.
He was invited to be the 8th teammate in an 8-member-team of more advanced dancers including his older brother. He had never done teams before so his first team experience would be on the North American stage. Not only would he have to learn the dance, but he would be with championship team dancers who had competed on international stages numerous times. People would be counting on him.
He accepted the opportunity and dove in. He had a great teacher and the other teammates welcomed him with open arms. He took feedback at practices and tried his best to implement it.
I knew he was nervous the morning of the competition because he is a man of many words. And he was very quiet.
I have competed with the adult teams before and I know how nerve-wracking it can be. One small error can throw the whole team into a downward spiral with three international judges watching.
They got up on stage and I held my breath. Nervous tears rolling down my cheeks by the end of the dance. I was so relieved that it was over. Next we had to see if we would be called to the podium.
We were one of six teams who recalled for a medal. Then at awards they called another team for sixth place. And fifth place. And fourth place. And finally it came down to two teams including us. And they called another team for second place. We were first. In North America.
The teacher took a chance on him. He took a chance on himself. And together with a team of amazing dancers, they reached the top of the mountain. With hard work and dedication, they did it.
It really reminded me of what Walt Disney once said, “If you can dream it, you can do it.”
May we all move outside our comfort zones and embrace the possibility of failure. It could end up bringing us to places we never dreamed we would see.