Saturday, August 16, 2014

Moments of Conception 077 -- The Wax On Wax Off Scene from Karate Kid

All creativity begins with the moment of conception.

That little piece of kindling that gets the fire going. That initial source of inspiration that takes on a life of its own. That single note from which the entire symphony grows. That single spark of life that signals an idea’s movement value, almost screaming to us, something wants to be built here.

And so, in this new blog series, I’m going to be deconstructing my favorite moments of conception from popular movies. Each post will contain a video clip from a different film, along with a series of lessons we can learn from the characters.

Today's clip comes from the wax on wax off scene in Karate Kid:

What can we learn?

The crucial calorie burning experience. In the industrial revolution, we fulfilled critical economic functions by engaging in unpleasant and inconspicuous production. We knew that in the future, we would have great rewards for our labor if we suffered now. And so, we burned calories when nobody was watching, developed the blue collar middle class work ethic and birthed capitalism. Fast forward two hundred years, and now we’re incapable of deferring our gratification. We’re obsessed with convenience. We’re addicted to the sweet nectar of instantaneity. And we’re habituated to sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the immediate. Daniel’s training starts with menial chores that make him feel like a slave. But after a week, he realizes those actions helped him learn defensive blocks through muscle memory. Miyagi couldn’t teach him those moves on day one. Daniel wasn’t ready. He hadn’t done the work yet. Only through pain of hard labor, of inconspicuous production, was he in a position to reap the rewards. That’s what every creator needs. An initial calorie burning experience to set the stage for success. An industrious revolution, if you will, to humbly build their physical and emotional calluses. Are you seeking long term fulfillment or short term gratification?

Choose to make it hard for yourself. The problem with
delayed gratification is, it’s harder to enjoy, learn, value and integrate into our identities than instant gratification. It’s uphill psychological work. It tests our self worth. And since modern culture demands and even rewards instantaneity, what’s the point? Well, for starters, delayed gratification, affords us the opportunity to daydream, to wonder and to whimsy. Engaging in long periods of watchful waiting has been clinically proven to create a rich emotional inner life of romantic imaginings. And so, it’s one of the ways we advance our artistic maturity and emotional intelligence. What’s more, a capacity for delayed gratification makes it possible for us to aspire to objectives and dreams that others would disregard. Amazon is a prime example, no pun intended. They’re slowly building a physical presence across the nation, adding warehouses and pickup locations and, for the first time in history, giving big box retailers a competitor to be scared of. Bezos is a artist and capitalist, but he’s also an incrementalist. He understands delayed gratification. And he has no problem playing a game to wait out the world. Proving, that the greatest advantage is to not need it right now. How can you contribute to your reserve of patience?

Beware of downhill psychological work. This movie came out thirty years ago. But these days, our culture places a premium on instant gratification. If something isn’t perfect, now and free, we’re not interested. And the problem is, we’re creating a new generation of artists devoid of determination. Consider the modern musician. She worries about being famous, not being good. She want to be a rockstar, but she doesn’t want to learn the chords. And so, her craving for instant gratification pushed her to cut the wrong corners. Is it any wonder she becomes so frustrated with the music business? If only she understood, we can’t microwave everything. As much as our ingrained impatience demands immediate results, all artmaking requires labor, time, patience, rejection, discipline, commitment and grit. Daniel’s journey is filled with every one of those things, but because his character learns to accept periods of minimal progress along the windy road to success, he wins the tournament, gets the girl and gains newfound respect from his nemesis. Wax on, wax off. What inspires your persistence and determination?

What did you learn?

* * * *
Scott Ginsberg
That Guy with the Nametag
Author. Speaker. Strategist. Filmmaker. Publisher. Songwriter.

Never the same speech twice. Customized for your audience. Impossible to walk away uninspired.

Now booking for 2014-2015.

Email to inquire about fees and availability. Watch clips of The Nametag Guy in action here!