When my now 16-year-old middle child was just 7 weeks, I joined an adult Irish dance team for some exercise and adult time.  Little did I know that such a small decision would change the trajectory of our lives.

Our adult team ended up competing numerous times at the Eastern Canadian Championships and even placed second at the North American Championships.  I met some lovely women and realized I could do things I never thought I could do before.

And because of this journey, I ended up registering my first-born son, and then his brother and then their sister to take Irish dance.  It may not have been on my radar if I wasn’t already immersed in that world.  One beginner class led to years competing nationally and internationally.

Today I was listening to The Tim Ferriss Show and he mentioned something that I couldn’t help but connect to Irish dance.  He said that the biggest thing that affects success is being comfortable with discomfort.

It made me think about Irish dance… when you are told you did something well, it’s because you worked hard and earned that comment.  You can attend multiple competitions and give your all, but not place.  Still, you go on to dance again.  You can fly across the country or across the ocean and only have a few minutes to show multiple judges what you can do.  That is your moment.  And you must embrace the nerves and the doubt and be comfortable in the chaos.

And it made me realize, that much more than an extracurricular activity, much more than the medals and trophies, Irish dance was a lesson in life.

It prepared them for the rejections they might receive when applying for a program or a grant or a job.  It prepared them for the criticism they will undoubtedly get which will help them evolve if they can embrace it without ego.  It prepared them for the moments when you must stand up, stand out, take the mic, speak your truth, and not worry about the crowd or the peers or the lights or the action.

Little did I know when I walked into that dance studio for the first time sixteen years ago, what it would teach me and my kids.  I’m forever thankful to know that being comfortable with discomfort is the X-factor for growth, learning and ultimate success.  May we all find that feeling in whatever our life dance may be.