Two years ago, I made a decision that changed my life.

I know that sounds pretty dramatic, but I believe it is true.  You see for 8 years, I had been confining my cross-country skiing to a run called “Stable Flats.”  As the name implies, it was flat.  No hills.

The lack of hills was important to me because I was terrified of them.  Terrified.  I’d start to hyperventilate just thinking of going down one. 

Then, for some unknown reason, two years ago, I decided that I’d had enough of Stable Flats and it was time to move on.  I found myself on a run called “Biathlon.”  It’s where people who compete in biathlons (including some Olympic hopefuls) train.  I probably shouldn’t have been there, but there I was at the top of Biathlon, poised at the edge and about to descend. 

I started shaking and sweating and I couldn’t breathe.  I decided to turn around and find another way down. 

I took exactly 3 strides in the opposite direction and then I stopped.  Looked back at this terrifying descent and thought: “No way.  I will not run from this.” 

I turned, skied back to the edge, said a prayer and went down it.  It was both the most fun that I’d ever had on skis and the most terrifying. 

Since that day, I have intentionally sought out the hills that seem too big or too scary.  

You know what I learned?

  1. That I LOVE the challenge.
  2. That my skiing only got better when the challenge got bigger.
  3. That most of these “big and terrifying hills” are only big and terrifying the first time down them.  After that – for the most part – they become beautiful and gentle reminders that I can only succeed if I have the courage to try. 
  4. That my only limits are those that I impose upon myself.

What have you learned from surmounting a challenge or fear?