Business Lessons from Mr. Miyagi
Every weekend, we have a family movie-night. It usually ends up taking way longer than it should, because the kids can never agree on a film. So, at the weekend, we decided the film we would all watch would be The Karate Kid. The kids found it funny that Mrs N was only nine when it was first released, and even funnier (or embarrassing) that she’d had a poster of Daniel-san on her bedroom wall.
Apart from lots of soppy teenagers falling in love scenes (James referred to as too ‘dramatic’), and some mild language (PGs were different back in the day!), he really enjoyed it. Lily, not so much so.
Whilst it was a nostalgic trip down memory lane, I didn’t realise how many business lessons there were during the film. One that caught my attention was that famous “wax on, wax off” scene:
Mr. Miyagi becomes Daniel’s karate teacher and, slowly, a surrogate father figure. He begins Daniel’s training by having him perform laborious chores such as waxing cars, sanding a wooden floor, refinishing a fence, and painting Miyagi’s house. Each chore is accompanied with a specific movement, such as clockwise/counterclockwise hand motions.
Daniel gets more frustrated as he fails to see any connection to his training from these hard chores and feels he has learned nothing of karate. When he expresses his frustration, Miyagi reveals that Daniel has been learning and practicing defensive blocks through muscle memory learned by performing the chores.
“Practice Makes Perfect” is a phrase we hear – and use – A LOT in everyday life. But what’s really important when applying the idea of ‘Practice Makes Perfect’ in your business environment is that you need to be practising ‘perfect’ things.
You need to be able to identify what 100% looks like…
And amend anything that falls short of this mark.
Once you have set up your goals, and shared your vision with your people, you need to make sure the actions are effective. Often the only way to achieve this is trial and error.
When I was working my flair at a cocktail bar in 1987, I’m proud to say that, while serving customers, I never ever dropped a bottle (we didn’t have rubber mats, just stone floors). It simply never happened, but in the hours before we opened the doors, and in my bedroom at home, there were many times that I made mistakes, which were quite often to the sounds of breaking glass and vanishing vodka.
When you are developing, systemising and streamlining the processes behind your product/services that you are delivering to your customers, you are going to make mistakes.
The important thing is to learn from the mistake, find a way to remove or manage it, and then (this is the massive learn) ensure that it is highlighted if it happens again.
If you do not have alerts in place to tell you that there is a problem in the system, then you will never get your business to a place where it can bring you perfectly executed results.
Bruce Lee has a great quote:
“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”
Practicing these basic movements made them second nature, helping Daniel excel at karate. This week have a think about:
- What can you do in your business that makes the delivery and performance second nature?
- Are you Practicing the fundamentals that make a real difference to your business, and not worrying about all the fancy stuff?