I once met a man who had climbed to the top of Mt. Everest. Since his climb he had become a well known public speaker, author and business owner. Getting to spend some time with him, I wanted to hear it all. Sitting beside him at a banquet, I used the opportunity to get to know him, “That’s an amazing accomplishment, what an awesome thing to do, please, tell me about it.”
He smiled and said, “Actually, it was pretty awful. Life in the base camps is dirty and miserable and once you get past that last camp, you are literally dying one step at a time because you are no longer in the Earth’s atmosphere. I wanted to quit so many times.”
“But what a singular accomplishment to single handedly climb to the highest peak in the world,” I said.
“Oh, you don’t do it alone,” he said. “You are with a tour guide and a whole group of other hikers. There are cooks, photographers, doctors, Sherpas to carry everything and highly trained guides. Plus you are on satellite phone with your family often, they encourage you and keep you motivated. No one does it alone, you wouldn’t make it.”
“Still you are one of a small number of people who have accomplished this amazing feat, and you got to see the earth from the highest point, how amazing was that?” I asked.
“The view is amazing, but you only get a few minutes to enjoy it before you must start back down, or you’ll die. As far as the accomplishment goes, yes, it was a powerful thing to have done. I made lifelong friends along the way and it has allowed me to meet some amazing people since then. The most important thing though, is that it allowed me to find out just exactly how much I could push myself, how far I can truly go. All of my accomplishments in my life since that day have seemed like small speed bumps compared to that.”
We continued our conversation, discussing our lives and accomplishments. At the end of the evening he said, “It sounds like earning a Black Belt is really similar to the accomplishment of climbing to the summit of Everest. You push yourself, your instructors guide and push you, you want to quit, you have friends and family helping you and encouraging you. You don’t necessarily enjoy every part of it along the way, you even fight the urge to quit, but in the end, between the view from the top, the close friends you make and the process self discovery that comes with it, it’s all worth it in the end.
I couldn’t agree more.
Parents, our job is not to make your child’s life easier, it is instead to give them the strength to make their own life easier, or even to realize, that where life is challenging is where we get to be at our best.
Make life’s challenges a speed bump for your child, encourage them and keep them coming. Tell them how much you love to watch them train and how proud you are of each of their accomplishments. If they ever feel like they are a burden, they will want to quit to keep you from suffering.