7 Business Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From Martial Arts Star Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee Avenue of StarsIt’s been over 42 years since Bruce Lee left this earth, and his impact is still felt around the world. Just a few months back I saw a YouTube video of an Afghan Bruce Lee look alike. I have to say the resemblance was uncanny.

Also, who can forget the 5 year old kid mimicking Bruce Lee’s moves on YouTube. It doesn’t surprise me that Bruce is still inspiring a new generation of fans.

I recently visited Hong Kong and the first place I headed for was the Bruce Lee statute at the Hong Kong Avenue of Stars. I was so impressed by the sheer amount of people who would stop by his statue every second to take pictures. It was non stop!

Also, you know you are da man when you still have coffee named after you passed on four decades ago!

Bruce Lee Coffee

While we can talk all day about Bruce’s great martial arts ability, let’s discuss the other side of his life. His business acumen and entrepreneurial spirit.

Before Bruce made it big in Hollywood he was a struggling actor. He got his first starring role as Kato in the 1966 series The Green Hornet. While he became more popular then the leading man Van Williams, the show was cancelled after one season.

Struggling to find major roles other than bit parts proved difficult for the budding superstar. Major Hollywood studios were reluctant to cast an Asian man as the leading man in a major production. Money was extremely tight around the household and he managed to get by teaching private lessons to Hollywood stars such as Steve McQueen.

Despite having every studio slam the door in his face during this period, he refused to give up his dream. The dream of spreading Chinese martial arts to the rest of the world. As his wife said, “if he wasn’t going to get through the front door, he would go through the back door.”

As fate would have it he headed back to Hong Kong for his father’s funeral. It was during this time he realized his show The Green Hornet was hugely popular in Hong Kong. A small up and coming studio Golden Harvest headed by Raymond Chow recognized this generational talent, signing him to a contract for two films.

Bruce’s first movie “The Big Boss” known as “Fists of Fury” in North America became a blockbuster hit in Hong Kong and Asia. He shortly followed up with “Fists of Fury” or “Chinese Connection” in North America.

After fulfilling his contractual obligations with Golden Harvest he formed his own production company named Concord in partnership with Golden Harvest president Raymond Chow.

Bruce was now in control of full production of his movies releasing the smash hit “Return of the Dragon ” in 1972. It is during this time Hollywood executives took notice. Warner Brothers came knocking on his door to star in Enter The Dragon.

This movie catapulted Bruce into superstar cult status around the world. Unfortunately, he was unable to enjoy his success as he passed away from cerebral edema one month before the film was released.

So what can we learn from Bruce Lee as entrepreneurs. Whether you are just starting out or a successful business owner, I believe we have a little if not a lot of Bruce Lee in all of us.

1. Dared To Be Different

Bruce did things that no other actor was doing at the time. He brought realism to the screen. As well he brought in all the film production techniques from Hollywood into the Hong Movie Industry.

2. Confident Compassionate Leadership Skills

He was always confident in the way he conducted himself. He also helped increase the wages for Chinese stuntmen who were grossly underpaid by Hong Kong standards. By doing so the stuntmen were very loyal to Bruce.

3. Never Let Obstacles Get In His Way

As mentioned earlier, despite his struggles to break into the Hollywood market he never let that stopped him. He wrote the TV series Kung Fu in which the role was given to Caucasian actor David Carridine. Instead, of feeling sorry for himself he went to Hong Kong to find success first before returning to America.

4. Visualization

Bruce like all great practitioners used visualization techniques to help him achieve greatness. He wrote a promise letter to himself called My Chief Aim. In this letter he outlined how he was going to become the highest paid Asian superstar in the world. It also stated he would have 10 million dollars in his possession by 1980. I believe Bruce most likely read the works of Napoleon Hill.

5. Relentless Commitment To Excellence

When Bruce was filming Enter The Dragon it was during monsoon season. The Hong Kong climate is uncomfortable humid and hot during this period. I can vouch for that as I visited there his past spring for the first time.

Often Bruce was required to do retakes multiple times. Most of us become exhausted after a one hour workout. Just imagine being on the set all day re-filming fighting scenes over and over again.

6. He Never Stopped Learning

Bruce Lee was an extremely productive person. His library consisted of many rare books on martial arts, philosophy, and exercise science. He was constantly studying up on subjects that would make him the best in his field.

In my opinion, if you are not learning everyday you are not growing.

7. Great Problem Solver

When Bruce filmed Return of The Dragon with Chuck Norris, he had very small budget to work with. One of the most classic scenes was the final fight in the Rome Coliseum between Bruce and Chuck.

However, what many didn’t know was the Coliseum was not available for them. Bruce was somehow able to wrangle his way into the venue to complete the filming.

There you have it folks, some of my thoughts on how this legend can help us when things don’t go right in our daily lives. Remember, all successful people have gone through many failures before finding success. Stay strong and keep marching towards your dreams each day.

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