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Equipping Families to Enrich Their Children's Lives

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Read This 12.14.2018

This week’s theme is Mountains because Tuesday, December 11 was International Mountain Day. Conrad Anker, THE mountaineer of our generation, reported, “A fifth of the the world’s population lives in the mountains and depends on the water and resources from these inspiring landforms. For a few of us, mountains are a spiritual home for humanity. We see the peaks and valleys as a source of rejuvenation, we challenge ourselves on the wrinkles (and in the course find fitness!), we see the peaks as the abode of the Gods.”

 

Mountains aren’t just land with altitude. They are formed. Tectonic force (just about the mightiest terrestrial thing) acts upon the earth and these are the beings that emerge. They are alive in a way that is almost not entirely metaphorical. They grow, they evolve, they have beauty. And “the mountains have teeth.” We attribute and award the most sacred qualities and concepts of humanity to them: majesty, respect, fear, life, conquest, risk, desire, death.

 

Mountains are a place to play but there is a stark and rapid escalation of terms off-piste. Once, on Mt Rainier, one of my teachers used the term “high consequence” to describe a piece of approaching terrain that forever adjusted my perspective. Secrets widely known but closely guarded. Patience, understanding, resilience, and respect will earn a glimpse. And everyone comes down saying the same thing: the summit is not the goal. At best, it’s the halfway point. And what you face internally, more than the view, will be the thing you were meant to see.

 

But, as I mentioned, a mountain isn’t always a physical thing. Most commonly, it’s a metaphor for a journey or a goal.

 

When it’s close to Christmas and I think of epic journeys, I can’t help but go into Lord of the Rings mode. Those were my family’s Christmas Day movies (does anyone else do that?) and they always feel like a good idea in December. Let’s try something different though. If you have a child that is 7 years or older, start reading The Hobbit to them tomorrow night and you can finish by New Years Day. 30-40 minutes each night. It’s nearly Winter break, you can find the time. Greatest adventure story ever written. And it’s shorter than the 3 (?!) movies.

 

A mountain of granite was climbed rather famously a couple of times recently. The Dawn Wall is the monumentally good documentary of the hardest rock climb ever. Ever. It took the better part of a decade to plan and nearly 3 weeks to execute. It’s a crazy story. And it’s on iTunes (or whatever the heck other streaming service you use).

 

Speaking of Conrad Anker, he climbed some mountains in Antarctica last year with Jimmy Chin, Alex Honnold, and some others. Here is a playlist of some videos from an upcoming (I think) documentary. It’s like if Wes Anderson mated with a blizzard on the summit of K2.

 

Let’s get back to goals. With the New Year approaching, so are the slew of #newyearnewme posts and resolutions. You don’t need a resolution. You need a mountain. Something to climb, something big and ambitious. Here’s how you can help your kids find that thing.

 

But there’s growing evidence that systems are more effective than goals. Just as mountains are formed, our children’s lives are the product of parental forces. Perhaps the best system for applying that force is the development of a growth mindset.

 

What’s the right mountain for you right now?

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