If you haven’t seen the classic film The Karate Kid then you are seriously missing out, and your childhood was deprived! One of the things that makes that movie a classic is when Mr. Miyagi is supposed to be teaching Daniel La Russo how to do karate, he makes him do his house chores instead. He has him wax his cars, paint his fences, paint his house, and sand his deck. Daniel starts to get impatient with these tasks and starts to question whether is he ever going to learn anything about karate. In the iconic scene that follows, Daniel learns that he was not only learning karate by doing those tasks, he was building the strength and muscle memory to perform important blocking moves in karate.
Our family culture is a lot like these routines that we create for our families. We won’t suddenly have the ability to teach our values or cultivate our vision for our family when they are grown if we haven’t done things to intentionally shape our beliefs and habits along the way.
I have been thinking a lot about what it means to be goal-oriented. I don’t think that it is something that you just wake up and decide to be. Setting and accomplishing goals takes discipline, perseverance, and self-efficacy. Plus, if you aren’t thinking about your end vision, then the goal has very little meaning.
Having that vision is challenging when your family is coasting, or always in crisis mode. That is something Michael and I have struggled with over the last ten years of feeling like we have been riding on the cultural train of corporate success, only to find that the tracks dead end if there is a recession, or you didn’t get there “right” degree, or find the “right” job. To get back onto our own, self-made train, we have to start thinking hard about what our goals really are, and start developing those things that will carry us toward our vision.
I recently read this talk called “The Adventure of Mortality” by Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and here is something that I appreciated about what he said about goals and decisions: “In many cases, the decisions you make may not be as important as what you do after making the decision.” Mr. Miyagi knew from the beginning that the movements he was teaching had a purpose. As parents, we need to be intentional about the habits and rhythms we establish with our children because they will become permanent.
In the book “Focus: The Hidden Driver of Excellence” by Daniel Coleman, he talks about the behaviors we do consistently without ever thinking about them. He says these things become “something we habituate to rather than orient towards.” When we aren’t intentional about our vision and values, the things we may not want become our defaults. We can intentionally design our defaults, or we can allow our situation to set them for us.
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