Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hard Lessons in a Microwave World

Today's post is a bit extended. But, I hope you will hang in there with me and enjoy the ride.

I had an interesting exchange with one of my sons the other day. He was complaining about a class we are making him participate in. He doesn't see how anything he is learning will help him with what he wants to do with his life. I tried to help him understand how the skills he was learning would be a major benefit in the field he wants to pursue, but to no avail. This is a challenge faced by many parents. I knew I wasn't alone.

Thankfully, the lesson from the movie "The Karate Kid" came to mind. So, my wife and I sat him down at the computer, did a quick search on YouTube and presto, there were the successive scenes we were looking for.

You remember the story. The young kid (Daniel) whose getting bullied by some thugs turns to a local karate expert (Mr. Miyagi) to teach him how to turn the tables on these guys. So, Mr. Miyagi tells him to show up at his place at 6am to begin his lessons. The next day Daniel shows up bright and early, looking forward to starting his lessons. But, Mr. Miyagi's idea of lessons is a little different than Daniel's. Watch this short clip to see (or be reminded of) how the lessons begin.

Daniel is perplexed. He's envisioning wiping the bullies out with his karate skills, but instead he finds himself wiping a bunch of old cars. What's this got to do with karate? And the cycle continues. Day after day Daniel shows up to learn karate only to find himself remodeling Mr. Miyagi's home. If you are unfamiliar with the film I encourage you to watch the successive video clips (lessons 2-4).

This is how my son felt. There was a complete disconnect between what he envisions doing some day, and what he is being asked (dare I say forced) to do today. Well, Daniel finally comes to the end of his rope after days of wearying toil. He is fed up and tired of washing and waxing Mr. Miyagi's cars, sanding his deck, painting his house and painting his fence. All for what?!?! He is about to walk out on their pact.

Watch this next clip to see how Mr. Miyagi handles the situation and how he demonstrates for Daniel the "for what."

Daniel learned an incredibly important lesson. Someone else knew better than he did what he needed in order to get what he really wanted.

Well, my son definitely got the lesson. He now understands where we are coming from. I don't know if his attitude has completely changed yet, but there's a ray of hope.

Are you and I willing to humble ourselves and be taught? Are we willing to do the hard things? In a world where we think we can get what we want from the microwave or from the vending machine in a matter of seconds, are we willing to endure the hardships and trials of gaining valuable wisdom, insight and skills from those who have walked this road before us? What are we modeling for the next generation?

Seize the day!

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