I have trained martial arts most of my life. Five years ago I earned my certificate as a full instructor in Jeet Kune Do (JKD), the martial arts philosophy of Bruce Lee. This path of JKD has taught me countless life lessons, from when I was first gifted Bruce’s book The Tao of Jeet Kune Do in 1991, until this day.
As an entrepreneur, many of the lessons I learned from JKD and from Bruce Lee’s writings and interviews have become cornerstones of wisdom that I come back to over and over again. Like the writings of Sun Tzu (The Art of War) and Miyamoto Musashi (The Book of Five Rings), Bruce’s approach to martial arts transcends physical combat and emerges as a philosophy for business and for life.
So here are five gems for you:
Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts, it is glorious even to fail.
Failure stops most people. Better said, the fear of failure stops most people before they have even attempted to follow their dreams. If you are afraid to fail you will not get very far in entrepreneurship or in life. Those that play it safe settle for being average. This doesn’t mean that all of your attempts will succeed. In fact, if you are really going for it the vast majority will fail. You will get knocked down. The question is whether you get back up and keep going. Each day is an opportunity for you to start on your dream again. But if you have internalized failure as who you are, you will never grow beyond where you are now.
Do not allow negative thoughts to enter your mind for they are the weeds that strangle confidence.
An unfortunate truth is that most media is saturated with negative thoughts. More people connect with each other based on the tragedies, fears, and complaints they have about life and the world than on what inspires them and makes them grow. Pay close attention to this. People will more easily slip into a conversation about everything that is going wrong than everything that is beautiful, inspiring, or exciting about life. Media, education, and certain religious institutions have collectively shaped society this way. If you allow yourself to be surrounded by the negativity of others you are working against a constant opposing force as you strive to grow. Instead, create communities that are focused on growing in positive and exciting ways.
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.
This is a big one. When I work with my clients, I always encourage them to take immediate action on one thing after our sessions. Overthinking can be a trap, one that limits our ability to move forward while convincing ourselves that we are. If you spend a lot of time trying to perfect what you are working on and delay executing it, delivering it to your clients or customers, you are missing out on key opportunities to connect with them and have them tell you how to refine, improve, and master your product, skill, or service. You learn by doing, receiving feedback, implementing the feedback, and doing again. In JKD we train as many “live drills” as possible and work our way up degrees of intensity and resistance until we are training as closely to a full-on street fight as possible. There is no faith-based strategy that goes untested. This keeps you honest and keeps your skills sharp for when you will need them.
The spirit of the individual is determined by his dominating thought habits.
What do you spend most of your time thinking about? Where do your thoughts go? Do you have a practice that allows you to observe your thoughts? The vast majority of our thoughts are actually recycled programs of patterned thinking. Many of them we have inherited from family, friends, and social indoctrination. The big myth is that what we think is uniquely and individualistically our own. Most of it isn’t. But you can change that. You can decide what your predominant thoughts will be by first becoming aware of what is already there. Notice the types of thoughts or scenarios that run through your mind on a regular basis. Are the fear-based? Are they reactive? Are they even important? Do you spend more time thinking about Game of Thrones than about building your dreams? It takes discipline to fine-tune your focus. But if you are going to succeed your focus has to be laser-sighted. Find a meditation/mindfulness practice that helps you sight it in.
Absorb what is useful. Reject what is useless. Add what is essentially your own.
There is so much out there to learn. These days information floods us like drinking from a fire hose. You have to be discerning of what is useful and what is not. As you develop as an entrepreneur it is important that you learn to take what will help your vision grow. Many clients that I have had feel like they need to reinvent the wheel. Stop it. It’s been around for thousands of years for a reason. It works. When you learn something that is useful to growing your business, use it. Implement the strategies of those that have had success in the field you are working in. Do not spend time worrying about the things that don’t have a use for you, either. If there is an idea, strategy, or relationship that doesn’t serve the development of your vision but instead drains it and you, let it go. And bring your unique flavor to everything you do. Let who you are shine through in how you deliver your products and services.
All of these have been major lessons in life and business for me. Whether it is business, spirituality, or life these principles apply across the board. Like Bruce says “All types of knowledge, ultimately mean self-knowledge.” Your work as an entrepreneur is about knowing yourself, knowing who you are serving, and knowing how to bridge the gap between where they are and where they want to be by offering your skills to serve them. To do so it is important that we have clarity on our ultimate goal, that we use the tools we have been given, and that we create the types of communities that will support us in positive ways. How can you start applying these strategies today?
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