Learn about yourself: get uncomfortable

Selfie with a cow in Colorado. I'm wearing a bike jersey and helmet.

Climbing hills on my bike as a kid never seemed like a good place to learn about myself.

I grew up in Chicago where there are no hills. My parents would take my brothers and me cycling in Michigan - and even brought us out to Colorado for a cycling trip near Telluride (which is BEAUTIFUL, by the way - and my favorite time of the year there is summer) - but I have yet to become a strong climber on the bike.

Never liked hills.

Until I was training for my first half Ironman triathlon, that is: One day when I was out for a training ride I was about 2/3 of the way up a long, steep hill - just about where I would ordinarily gear down and take it easy for the rest of the way to the top - and that day I decided to see what would happen if I stuck to my cadence and gear until the top.

It was hard but I did it: I powered the rest of the way up the hill and learned something about myself - that I was capable of more than I gave myself credit for.

Ever since then I have had a different relationship with climbing hills on the bike - because that's where I can learn about myself.

I had to get uncomfortable to get to that place of learning; it was actually painful. The piece that I got that day was not about what a great cyclist I am (I am most decidedly NOT a strong cyclist); it was about the depth of my own fortitude. I learned about my toughness that day; wouldn't have believed it if you had told me, but now that I know that I can be tough I can call on that toughness any time I need it in my life.

Where do you go to learn about yourself?

Athletes have discovered that their arena - whether the running path, the pool, the weight room or climbing a hill on a bike - is a context for life long discovery.

Others travel, take classes either related to their field of work or not, sign up for ropes courses and find other ways to get uncomfortable and learn that they can call on inner character and strength that doesn't make itself known on the couch or in an office.

Give yourself a gift: get uncomfortable and see what gift you discover inside yourself.