I’ll admit it; I like cartoons. I’m more of a fan of old Warner Brothers cartoons and a few others from back in the day, but there are a few newer cartoons I happen to like as well.

One in particular, called Teen Titans, caught my eye a few nights ago. This particular episode had one of the main characters come upon a villain he was having problems beating. When the villain did an unusual martial arts move on him the hero, Robin (yes, the same one from Batman, only with a different group of characters here), asked him where he’d learned the lesson. The villain told him he’d learned it from one of the ancient masters, then ran off.

Robin then decides he has to go find this master to learn better skills. He goes off on this journey but keeps coming upon obstacles along the way. These frustrate and irritate him because their impediments to where he wants to go. Still, he has no choice in having to tackle these challenges. He also keeps meeting up with an old man who, at one point, chastises him for trying to hurry to his destination to the point of not even stopping to help an old man carry a heavy load. Of course being a hero he does help, but he’s doing it more out of shame than kindness.

Just as he gets close to his destination his old nemesis pops up. When asked why he’s there is admits that he lied and that he wanted to get to the ancient master as well but didn’t want to have to fight the battles, so he just followed close behind Robin, who’d taken care of everything for him.

As they battle, Robin feels the superior force of his opponent, who’s not only fresher but is now using all of the tools Robin uses to fight crime against him. Just as he’s about to give up the old man shows up and asks him why he’s ready to quit when he’s so close to his destination, and then asks didn’t he learn anything from the trials he’d just gone through. With a renewed sense of purpose and remembering the tactics he’d just learned, he’s able to overcome his opponent and realizes that the old man was the ancient master all along. The old master then tells him that he’s ready to learn the lessons he came for.

I found this to be an incredible lesson that many of us need to learn and then need to learn to teach others more than just a pretty good cartoon. When I got out of college I expected to just walk into a new job with a high salary because I had a degree. As you can imagine, it didn’t happen. My first job paid me $2.90 an hour stocking shelves early mornings at a Kmart in 1982, almost 9 months after graduating.

I ended up taking many baby steps as far as jobs were concerned before I started moving up the ladder. With each step I learned something, and more than just the work I was doing. I learned philosophies, sometimes in spite of people I was reporting to, because we can learn both from those we like and trust and those we don’t. We can learn a lot from watching others and from interacting with others, things that will help us both in work and in life.

So many people try to take shortcuts to get what they want. Often when they get there it ends up disastrously; that is, if they get there at all. Do everything you can to move as fast as you can, but make sure to put your time in as well. When you’re trying to get ahead too quickly you might miss the lessons the rest of us learn along the way (and if you quote this, make sure people know I said it lol).
 

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