A Real Life Lego Dilemma

I’ve always been a fan of Lego. When I was kid, I wished that I had a room dedicated to Lego. Sadly I didn’t get my wish, and now that I’m older with two boys, I’m living vicariously through them and their Lego sets.

Very recently my wife and I watched The Lego Movie. I had seen it before but this was the first time for my wife. I still find the movie to be very entertaining. Animated movies nowadays seem to be made for the adults just as much as they are made for the kids.

As kids, we can be pretty creative. When I was growing up, Lego had some sets you could build, but nothing compared to what they have now. Back then, I was happy to just get a box of bricks so I could create something out of my own imagination. Spaceships, tanks, castles, you name it. Ok so maybe to the outside person they didn’t quite look like that, but to me they did. The point is I was able to let my imagination run wild and just build stuff.

Fast forward to the present day, and I’m the one with zero imagination and have to do things by following the instructions. I’m the guy that likes the finish product to look just like it does on the box cover, and I’m slightly bothered when it doesn’t. My wife compared me to President Business, but I haven’t gotten to the point where I’m ready to unleash the Kragle.

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I like my Legos built according to how the instructions say they should be.

My boys on the other hand, like to build things according to the instructions, but they also make modifications as well. While I’m the purest when it comes to built sets, they like add things here and there to finished sets and they also love to free build. To be complete honest, when they add things to sets that don’t “belong”, it drives me nuts. But this quote started to change all of that.

“What I see are people inspired by each other and by you. People taking what you made, and making something new out of it.”

~ Finn, The Lego Movie

It’s funny how cartoon and animated movies intended for kids end up being more meaningful for adults. The quote above is the dialogue between Finn, a kid, and his father, who has all of these Lego sets built according to their instructions and set in their appropriate themes with zero crossover. And it spoke to me.

My kids are going to use the instructions and the built sets as a baseline, and then personalize and make things new from there. They’re proud of themselves if they complete sets as they were intended, but when they’re able to put their own spin on it they’re even more proud and happy about it. It doesn’t make the original set design bad or wrong, it’s just not the end or the final. The original set serves as the launch point for their creative minds. They’re inspiration for new ideas and new creations even those are built from scratch.

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Kronkiwongi: Any Lego creation built out of imagination without instructions. This car with wings that my kids built is a Kronkiwongi.

Imagine if we were to consider the way we work in this kind of way. There would be a better understanding between all generations young and old. There would be respect for what has been previously established and a respect for new ideas and change. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it’s completely irrelevant and just because something is new doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea.

As someone who is “older”, it’s easy to write off and turn your back on this younger generation that considered to be too pampered, entitled, self-absorbed, who cannot live without their mobile devices. We even a TV show dedicated to this, “The Great Indoors”. Full disclosure, I do find the show to be pretty funny.

But to dismiss the younger generation in this way would be wrong. I work with a lot of younger people who work really hard and have great ideas and aren’t full of themselves. And to be fair, some older people are just as pampered, entitled, and self-absorbed too.

At the same time, it’s easy for the younger generation to write off and turn their backs on those of us that are older by thinking that we are out of touch with reality, don’t understand new things, cannot figure out technology, and are too stubborn and proud to admit when we don’t know something. That mindset would be wrong too. There are things that you learn from experience that you cannot learn instantly from reading a blog post or tweet. There are many of us who are open to new ideas, trying new things, aren’t afraid of technology, and are constantly trying to understand and know younger generations.

It’s a lesson in compromise and finding middle ground. Each side giving a little of something so that the end result is the best result. It’s about giving a younger generation a chance to do things, with freedom and leeway to make mistakes. But it’s also respecting the older generation’s experience, having an understanding that not all new ideas are good ones, and that success is something that it built over time.

In the end, I guess it just takes both sides to be open to each other. A little give and take. Are you open to it?

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