Can you imagine that a finger-jab, a one-inch punch, and a side kick can impact millions of entrepreneurs in business?
Neither did I when I chose Bruce Lee as my hero to escape a horrible situation long ago. So how did he shape me into the global educator I am today? How did his martial arts philosophy teach me and so many other entrepreneurs to reach their highest potential for success?
Let’s begin with how I found my hero. When I first heard about Bruce Lee, I was just a kid getting beat up multiple times and bullied in school. Eventually, I got sick and tired of it. One night, I was watching cable TV and flipping through channels when I saw this guy who couldn’t speak a word of English going to Rome to help the restaurant owner. If you’re a Bruce Lee fan, you’ll know the movie was Return of the Dragon.
People wondered who the guy was, dressed in traditional Chinese uniform, unable to speak English, and looking dorky and dumb. Before you know it, halfway through the movie he was doing nunchucks and beating people up and even beating Chuck Norris. I decided, “I found my hero!”
From that moment, I wanted to be like Bruce Lee. I wanted to learn martial arts. People weren’t going to beat me up again. Near my house, there was a karate school, so I immediately joined a class. And that was my first Bruce Lee lesson:
If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.
Entrepreneurs need to be risk takers. No one is going to tell you when the perfect moment will arrive for you to start a business, carry out an idea, or start working toward your dream. When you have a plan, execute it.
It might not be perfect, but taking a first step is better than not taking one at all. In my case, I decided to learn martial arts, but what I didn’t know at the time was I had found my purpose in life.
Watch this video about how Bruce Lee inspired me with confidence.
Become A Teacher, Let Your Past Inspire A Great Future
Everyday, I was obsessed with practicing martial arts three to four hours a day. I was so skinny, about 105 pounds, but I would do my pushups and workout, and eventually I started to gain a little bit of muscle.
After training for about six months, I started to develop a natural self confidence. Not cockiness, but self confidence. When I walked, my posture had changed. And people started to notice.
Other kids began to ask me, “What are you doing?” I would show them different moves, and when they asked, I said it was Chinese kung fu. They were curious and wanted to see more. They wanted to learn, and when I started teaching them, I realized I had a teacher’s heart.
Every single lunch break, I would eat for about 5 to 10 minutes and spend the rest of the time teaching other students martial arts. Not because I wanted to teach them to hurt people or defend themselves, but I could see even the kids who weren’t that good were transforming into more confident, better versions of themselves.
I loved seeing people transform like that. That’s why to this day, I see myself as a teacher first and an entrepreneur second. I love teaching. Having a lot of wealth is meaningless unless you use it in some way to help others. For me, my goal is to mentor millions of entrepreneurs through my programs. As Bruce Lee said:
The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering.
No matter what your goal is in life, have a mission. Have a mission with a greater purpose other than benefiting just yourself. This applies to entrepreneurs, CEOs, millionaires, and billionaires. If you help other people, you will live on for a very long time.
Some people like to golf and some people like to fish, but I have zero interest in either. I love to teach. When I die, I want my headstone to say “Great teacher.”
You Alone Define Who You Are
My first experience as an educator started there, at the school when other kids became interested in what I was doing. Now, fast forward the story to when I was teaching in grade 12 and there was a talent show.
Because I’m such a fan of Bruce Lee, I noticed he’s not just a martial artist, he’s also a great showman. He would do these demonstrations of the one-inch punch and the sidekick. I wanted to copy his talents and show others how great he was.
I was always envisioning what my hero would do and say because my parents had divorced by then. Because I didn’t really have a father figure, Bruce Lee became that virtual father figure for me.
When it was my turn at the talent show, I went on the stage with a couple of my students. I tried my best to imitate my hero by talking and moving just like him. I broke a board, I did the sidekick, and I sent people flying. All the kids saw what I could do.
Nobody beat me up afterward. They left me alone.
I wasn’t the only one to turn to martial arts to change his life. Matt Fiddes, bodyguard for Michael Jackson, used to be picked on in primary school. He became a multi-millionaire martial arts expert who opened his own martial arts schools. And 30 years after it happened, he was reunited with the person who had bullied him.
He thanks his tormentor for giving him the drive to succeed. It’s hardship that makes us who we are. As Bruce Lee used to say,
Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one.
This is true. Very, very true. If I had an easy life, I might not have turned out the same way. I might not have been so motivated to give a better life to my family. I might not have become the educator I am today.
What Martial Arts Teaches You
Indirectly martial arts built up my self esteem and self confidence. I owe a lot of my character and personality today to it. There is no doubt about that. A lot of philosophies that I learned from martial arts influenced who I am as a businessman, an entrepreneur, and a husband.
Even today, I use martial arts analogies to teach mentees in my global business programs. At the annual Closers in Black ™ event, students from around the world used martial arts techniques to break a wooden board in half. Breaking the board symbolized defeating the lower self and becoming more confident.
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.
If you want to do something well, you need to practice. From Bruce Lee I learned focus, self discipline, and respect. I learned to be patient, put in effort, and develop a skill set. Also, I learned to be aware of and eliminate my own flaws every step of the way. That’s what martial arts is about.
It’s also what I teach my mentees. Practice. If you don’t break the board the first time, keep trying. Practice that one skill 10,000 until you hone and master it. Through that process, you learn about yourself. It’s a self actualization process.
Dan Schulman, millionaire and chief executive of PayPal, says he’s always black or blue and covered with stitches from krav maga. All of that toughness is how you “learn how to be cool, calm and collected in very stressful situations,” even in business. You learn how to de-escalate situations.
Martial arts doesn’t just teach you how to fight. It teaches you how to become a resilient entrepreneur as well.
The day I found Bruce Lee, I was just looking for someone to save me from the bullies at my school. I didn’t expect martial arts to have such a profound impact on my professional and personal life. What I found was a hero whose teachings inspired me both an entrepreneur and educator.
Who do you admire who influenced you? Comment below.