Inspiration comes from many sources. I find that one of the best sources of inspiration are the words of wisdom shared by individuals who have devoted their lives to improvement. Why reinvent the wheel when you can learn from someone that’s done it before? Here are eight wonderful quotes from the legendary Bruce Lee. If you thought he was just about martial arts films, it’s time you thought again. Read these quotes and tell me if you still think what he had to say isn’t relevant to your life and your business.
Lesson: Take responsibility for your life and work
We all make mistakes, but if we allowed them to stop us we’d never achieve anything in life. We all know people that look at everyone but themselves when things go wrong. Maybe it’s their circumstances, or their workmates are conspiring against them, or that client never really intended to buy. Whatever the reason is, they rarely say “maybe I didn’t do as well as I could have”. The truly successful individuals and businesses look first at themselves: could they have tried harder, prepared better, or been better equipped. Look at every mistake as a chance to improve. If you do that, mistakes become assets.
Lesson: Never stop questioning
When we ask questions and really listen to the answers, particularly the ones we didn’t expect, we can discover amazing things. Ask you clients, friends, followers and anyone else you can think of about your product or services when you’re looking for fresh insights. Questions that start with “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” “how,” or “why” have a much higher chance of producing useful ideas and material.
Lesson: There’s more to business than profit or loss
For me, this Bruce Lee quote is about remembering that all the best businesses are about more than just making money. The businesses and entrepreneurs for whom business is a means to a greater end are the ones that inspire greater engagement and loyalty from their customers. Steve Jobs famously wanted to “put a dent in the universe”; Innocent Drinks wants to leave the world better than they found it, and at Zappos they believe in providing the best customer service possible. It’s these greater purposes that what sets them apart from other businesses. What’s your mission?
Lesson: Mastery takes time (and effort)
Anyone can learn to be adequate at what they do; mediocrity surrounds us. It doesn’t take long to acquire. However, it takes dedication and a desire for excellence to truly master something. Mastery takes time, effort and constant work. But when you are truly excellent at what you do, it shows and the mediocre competition fades into the background. It pays off commercially too: there’s nothing clients love more than knowing that they’re buying the best.
Lesson: Only conscious improvement creates mastery
Repetition is not what creates excellence. There’s no room in a successful business for time-serving. True expertise takes time, effort and a conscious desire to get better every time. Don’t be tempted to skip opportunities to learn more and broaden horizons when they arise. Truly disruptive ideas and skills don’t emerge by accident.
Lesson: Failures are stepping-stones to success
We all make mistakes, but if we allowed them to stop us we’d never achieve anything in life. Consider this: Abraham Lincoln lost 8 elections, failed twice in business and suffered a nervous breakdown before becoming one of the most famous men in history. Set your sights as high as you dare and then raise them higher. Look at every failure as a lesson from which you can learn.
Lesson: Becoming your ideal self starts inside
They say that success begins first in your mind, then in your actions, then finally in the actions of those around you. Whether you agree with this or not, there is no doubt that attitude is one of the keys to success in business. It is the basis of your confidence. How you see yourself has a direct influence on the degree of success you are likely to achieve. There is a growing body of research confirming what we have known for a long time: that a positive self-image increases your chances of success. In short, if you believe you will succeed, the reality is more likely to come to match that.
Lesson: If not you then who?
I love this quote so much that I saved it for last. Often, we think that successful people are somehow different from the rest of us. That they are a special kind of person, luckier, touched by fate, or just better at taking and creating opportunities. The actual fact is that they are us, only more determined, focused and driven. Every successful person and business began somewhere. You owe it to yourself and your business to develop the level of concentration required to push through the inevitable tough times.