The legendary Bruce Lee was one of my heroes growing up as a kid. I loved his movies, his unique brand of martial arts, and his “win against all odds” personality. I even remember a few months in my childhood when I would pronounce the world “water” as “WATAAAH,” mimicking Bruce Lee’s attack voice. (I must have been a real annoying kid.)
But as I grew up and got into business, I got less interested in Bruce Lee the entertainer and got more interested in Bruce Lee the philosopher. In this article, I’ll share with you three of the man’s teachings that have inspired and guided me, and will hopefully help you achieve more success.
Lesson #1: There Are No Styles
Bruce Lee didn’t agree with fixed, rigid martial arts styles. Instead, he created his own school, Jeet Kune Do, which took the best of all the martial arts styles he knew, and added his own twist to it. The result was a flexible fighting style that could adapt to different challenges quickly, easily, and devastatingly.
Likewise, I’ve learned that there are no real “styles” in business. Different industries have different demands, and one can always find new ways to add value to a target market. Adhering to just one style of doing business can be crippling in the long run, especially when you don’t innovate and stay ahead of the competition.
Lesson #2: Be Like Water
Everyone knows Bruce Lee’s “be like water” monologue. He calls people to be flexible, adaptable to any situation in life. When you’re in business, you have to be a leader – and being a leader means having the courage to face even the most unexpected of challenges.
Whether that challenge may come on the production floor, in marketing, in sales, in operations, in customer service, in company culture, or anything else in between… the leader must be ready, willing, and able to meet the challenge head-on.
The same principle applies when you’re a business owner and not a business operator. The challenges come in the form of finding the right opportunities and capitalizing on them.
That leads us to the third lesson:
Lesson #3: See An Opening, Hit It
This is perhaps my favorite Bruce Lee quote of all: “When my opponent expands, I contract. When it contracts, I expand. When I see an opening, I do not hit it.”He looks at his clenched fist. “It hits all by itself.”
What I’ve always taken this to mean is to develop a keen eye for good opportunities – the opportunities that will take my businesses to the next level. And while waiting for opportunities, I keep track of innovations in my industry, watching my competition carefully.
A big chunk of my success in business is owed to simply knowing which opportunities I should be looking for, preparing for them 24/7, and then hitting them with everything I got when they show up.
Hopefully, these timeless lessons from Bruce Lee will help you stay flexible, stay ready, and grab the right opportunities in life.
Photo: Getty Images