Many people who know me will be well aware of the fact that my daughter – Alyssa Azar – is aiming to climb Mount Everest in a little under 10 weeks time.
Alyssa commenced this journey as an eight year old, albeit unaware that she would end up here. We just happen to be involved in adventurous activities and so she has slowly completed one after the other – Kokoda, Aussie 10, Everest Base Camp, Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Cook, Mount Manaslu, Mount Aconcagua (she’s over there now completing this one) and the list goes on.
Alyssa has just turned 17 years old and if successful in a few weeks time she will be the youngest Australian and the second youngest woman ever to climb Mount Everest.
This brings me to my topic for the week and one that I am a little passionate about. Holding children back from achieving their dreams because of our own fears – or ‘Glass Ceilings’ as I call them.
The Glass Ceiling reference means that we as adults have put an imaginary ceiling on our children’s dreams, beliefs and ultimately their capabilities. Trust me this happens to almost everyone including you and I.
Every adult in the World is there to tell kids what’s dangerous and what’s not. It mostly comes from teachers and parents and to some degree the Government and so on. For the most part adults start out quite well meaning. Don’t run with scissors, don’t cross the road without an adult, don’t do that you’ll hurt yourself but over time these safety rules give way to stopping kids from not only trying new things but in fact stopping them from doing anything that is not considered a part of the norm.
Stay with me on this one.
I often get asked why I would let Alyssa climb Mount Everest? The question amuses me a little. I mean I understand there are very real risks with what she’s trying to achieve. I am not at all dismissing these but the question implies to me that I have sole control over this human being just because she’s my daughter. It’s as if the World would view it as normal from me as a parent if I crushed her dream with a simple NO.
But my view is very different. I think, Who am I to tell Alyssa that she can’t go out and attempt to fulfill a lofty dream? I mean just because her dream is bigger than mine, scarier than mine, or is something I don’t know if I would be up to, does this mean I should hold her back?
Put in another context – When Alyssa was younger and wanted to learn to ride a bike, I took her out there in the cul-de-sac and ran alongside her time and time again until she got it. If she got discouraged I told her to have another go. Plenty of parents do this. Why?
Simple. Because they know it can be done. I mean a vast majority of us have ridden a bike at sometime. It’s known to us and we know it can be done. Therefore we encourage our kids to do it. It’s the norm.
Now once the dream gets a little bigger, like walking The Kokoda Track as an 8 year old or climbing Mount Everest as a 17 yo, all of a sudden I have the right to crush a dream. Why? Because now it makes me uncomfortable. Now I’m not sure if it can be done. Now it’s no longer the norm. Not everyone is doing this thing therefore its crazy.
It’s not just the danger factor with Everest. If this was true wouldn’t we not let our kids learn to drive? The road is a far more dangerous place than any mountain climb in my humble opinion.
Isn’t this crazy. Everything we know and everything that has been done by humans at some time hadn’t been done. Mount Everest, flying a plane, cars, television. I mean all of these things happened because some pretty amazing humans out there didn’t listen to those who said it couldn’t be done. They ignored the glass ceilings imposed by society or their parents and they went for it anyway.
A classic example is the Four Minute Mile. It was widely thought to be impossible for a human being to be able to run a mile in under four minutes.
Interestingly Roger Bannister broke this four minute mile in 1952 and within the next 2 years 22 athletes broke the four minute mile. Now this wasn’t thought to be just dangerous or difficult, popular academic thought at the time suggested it was simply ‘impossible’ as humans had clearly reached their limits.
That’s astonishing. How could it be possible that so many could do the impossible all of a sudden and what changed? I can tell you what, people realised it could be done. So they did it.
I don’t know if Alyssa will reach the summit of Mount Everest this year but I do know that she will have my full support to do so. I have no right whatsoever to tell her she’s not capable or not allowed to do this. My job as a parent is to raise my children to treat others with dignity and respect, to contribute in a positive way to society and to be the best version of themselves.
My job is to guide and nurture – not to dictate and control; Not to dissuade when I get uncomfortable. This is her dream, her challenge and her life.
So when asked why would I let her climb Mount Everest my answer is ‘Who am I to stop her? What gives me that right?’
We love the Jeep slogan of Don’t Hold Back. It’s become something of a motto for Alyssa and I. Today I encourage you not to hold others back. If they do something you thought impossible well good for them. Pat them on the back and say good job.
Next time someone comes to you with a cool idea that seems a little out of reach, give them encouragement. Who are you to judge them or tell them they can’t?
DON’T HOLD BACK.
If you would like to follow Alyssa’s Journey head to her website – www.alyssaazar.com.au