Quick, what was your favorite movie growing up?
My answer? “The Karate Kid.“ Though you’d never expect it, it turns out that the original 1984 Karate Kid is actually teeming with hidden lessons on life which I use every day to help motivate myself and my team here at Ctrip. I wish I could say I was kidding, I really do, but the Karate Kid touches a nerve every time Daniel LaRusso crane kicks a bewildered Jonny into pages of history, driving home his point time and time again: aim high. Daniel-san’s lessons aren’t easy to pick up on, and they can also be grandly misinterpreted. To the world’s dismay, Robert Matthew Van Winkle was rumored to have spent much of his youth studying the intricacies of the classic film before building up the confidence to pursue his craft. I’ve tried to summarize the subliminal messages that riddle the plotline, but there are surely more gems buried beneath its 80’s façade. As any qualified Karate Kid historian will tell you, its lessons transcend time. Cults have started over less-vetted teachings, and Daniel-san’s messages, however you interpret them, will hopefully bring you great success throughout your own All-Valley tournament.
1) Think outside of the box: Daniel is getting beaten up by the Cobra Kais, but he doesn’t run away. Nope, instead he thinks of a creative solution to solve a complex, multi-variable problem. Answers to difficult problems in the workplace can usually be found by downing a few cups of coffee and letting the ideas flow, creative solutions just seem to appear when you let them.
2) Always know when to bring in outside consultants: Wishful thinking aside, there was no way Daniel was going to beat the likes of Jonny with a book on karate. When confronted with his shortcomings and the offer of help from a true expert in Mr. Miyagi, Daniel admits he can’t overcome his problem on his own. Outside consultants are expensive, or in Daniel’s case a kick to the ego, but sometimes they are necessary to get the job done effectively.
3) Aim high: Always aim higher than you ever thought you could strive for. Ralph Macchio and Elisabeth Shue? Can one’s sights see any higher? When starting a new job or role, always aim high and work every day towards getting to your goal.
4) Confidence is king: You defied all logic (see point 3) and won a date with Elisabeth Shue. She’s expecting you to pick her up in front of her mansion, flanked by her judgmental parents. You don’t have a car that is capable of starting without the aid of a well placed decline or raw LaRusso power, nor do you have a license. What do you do? You show up with your Mom, push the car in front of her parents, and think nothing of it. And just like that, Elisabeth Shue is thinking about how she should follow my point 3 to get a second date with you.
5) Shortcuts never win in the long run: Your boss tells you to rush, so you take the low road and get the job done easily in order to finish work early (sweep the leg). While your goals might be accomplished in the short run, that task that you didn’t complete (beat Daniel fair and square) will always come back to bite you (or crane kick your best friend and his hopes of being a non-typecast actor throughout the 80’s).
6) Start from the bottom and focus on fundamentals: Daniel thought that he could just take a few lessons and become a grand master in the ring. He was wrong, and Mr. Miyagi placed him on a regimen of washing cars waxing decks, and painting fences to teach him that it’s all about fundamentals. It was obvious that Cobra Kai & Co. didn’t focus on their fundamentals, as Daniel proceeded to accelerate up the learning curve and take them all down with relative ease. Regardless of whether you are trying to dominate the dojo or the board room, unless you learn what it takes from skills acquired at the bottom you are bound to fail. Success and domination never come easy, and through a series of well-timed montages, time and time again the Karate Kid teaches us so.
Interpret these lessons as you well, or let me know what types of lessons you learned from what many writers have dubbed one of best sports movies of all time.