What do martial arts, the moon, and a cup of water all have in common?
Well, those of you who are fans of Bruce Lee might already know the answer. And those of you who are fans of my work know that I’m a huge fan of his because he saved my life. Much of my personal and professional success is attributed to Bruce Lee and his teachings.
That’s what drew me to Bruce Lee so that I became one of his biggest fans. His philosophy on martial arts applied to much more than that. It’s the secret to life’s successes and achieving goals.
Those teachings are what I will share with you today, the Bruce Lee’s Top 9 Rules For success.
It was a really depressing time in my life when I found him. Back then, I was only one of the only three Chinese in my high school in Canada. As a new immigrant from Hong Kong, I couldn’t speak a word of English so it was a very difficult period for me. I had no friends and every single week I was getting bullied in school.
I was a super skinny kid, probably a hundred and ten pounds, and sick of being picked on. Then one night, I was flipping through channels on cable when I came across Bruce Lee’s movie, Return of the Dragon.
His character was visiting Rome, and like me, he couldn’t speak a word of English either. But what intrigued me more was how he was able to beat up the bad guys with the ease of someone just strolling through the park. From that moment, I realized how I was going to deal with the school bullies.
Bruce Lee inspired me to learn martial arts. I wanted to be a better version of myself, and that goal transferred into how I conduct myself as a businessman, entrepreneur, and leader today. He became my hero.
He taught me many lessons, starting with how to conduct myself with honesty.
Watch this video about Bruce Lee’s Top 9 Rules For Success.
1. Express Yourself Honestly
I had the fortune to study under two of his original students, Sifu Ted Wong and Sifu Joe Lewis. They got to know Bruce Lee, who was born in San Francisco in 1940. He believed that martial arts is really about expressing yourself honestly, which is difficult to do.
Just think about the times when you felt it was easier to tell a lie than tell the truth. In business, it’s the same. Being honest is difficult to do because people struggle with insecurities. Very often, people put on a mask and hide behind a facade to be someone they don’t need to be in order to impress other people.
Or, when you’re communicating with other people, either through social media, one-on-one, or in groups, you find it hard to be your most authentic self. You worry about how strangers will perceive you. How can you be your most authentic self and say, “Here I am! I’m good enough just being me!”
It’s easy to say, not easy to do. It’s not always easy to be yourself and express yourself well by being genuine.
Don’t look for a successful personality and try to duplicate him or her. Maybe at first, you’re trying to imitate someone – it could be me or it could be anyone. I see my fans on social media telling me that they want to be like me. Don’t!
There’s someone much better that you can be:
2. Be The Best Version Of You
Be the best version of yourself that you could be. You don’t need to be like me. If I tried to be like you, I would fail, one hundred percent. If I try to be Tony Robbins, I would also fail one hundred percent. But I can do a pretty good Dan Lok.
So be yourself and express yourself honestly.
The next lesson I learned from Bruce Lee which is very profound is being able to expect the unexpected.
3. Learn The Art Of Dying
Bruce Lee once said to someone learning martial arts, “You are not ready. You want to learn the way to win but never to accept the way to lose, to accept defeat. To learn to die is to be liberated from it so when tomorrow comes, you must free your ambitious mind and learn the art of dying.”
What does he mean by that? You see, sometimes we get so attached to how to achieve our goals. One of the things I’ve learned from my martial arts sifu is to expect the unexpected.
When you’re too fixated on attacking the opponent a certain way to prevent him from being able to block, then when there’s an obstacle, you’ll be too tense.
You’ll be surprised when your moves don’t work according to the way you saw it in your mind. At that point, you’ll be too tense to react. The same thing happens in life. When you try something that doesn’t work, you’re too tense. If you’re not relaxed, you cannot react.
You cannot move. But when you’re not tense and you’re open minded and you see an obstacle, you can redirect. You can find another opening. There are other ways to reach your goal, to hit your target, but the way you go about it might change.
It may seem counter intuitive, but the more you try to win, the more you’re attached to the outcome, the more you need to let go of control. It doesn’t mean we don’t try our very best but when you are doing that, at the same time internally let go of your need to be in control. That’s how you win.
This attitude toward winning is especially important when you’re faced with circumstances beyond your control.
4. Your Race Doesn’t Matter. You Can Do Anything.
The racism Bruce Lee faced is another way that I relate to him. In the movies during his time, Asians were portrayed as people with long braids and slanted eyes. For me, as an influencer and as a businessman, it’s also been a challenge to succeed in the western world.
I may be the only Chinese speaker who has been on the TEDx stage twice as an opening speaker. But when I was getting started in my career, it was a steep climb uphill. I experienced racism in the way people looked at me. They thought, Dan Lok, you cannot be successful because you are yellow, young, and Chinese. You speak with an accent!
All of those adversities had a role in making me who I am today. I am proud that I have done a small part to show the world that even though I’m an Asian in the Western world I can be successful.
You could be successful too. It doesn’t matter if you’re Asian or another minority. It doesn’t matter if you’re Indian. Your background is not an excuse if you want something bad enough. Yes, you will work twice to three times as hard and you’ll need to sacrifice more but yes you could do it.
5. If You Are Well Prepared, You Will Succeed.
In martial arts, Bruce Lee says that when facing an opponent, there is no opponent. In a fight, a good martial artist does not become tense but remains ready, not thinking, not dreaming. But ready for whatever may come.
In your day to day life, if you are well trained – it doesn’t matter if it’s martial arts or business – you will go into any scenario well prepared. You’ll you have the self confidence and trust that if someone strikes, your body will know what to do.
It takes a lot of self-confidence to let that go and believe that your body, mind and spirit will do the right thing at the right time. It is actually not easy to do.
It’s also a lesson I teach all my students who are closers or salespeople. As sales professionals when they go into a sales call they’re well prepared. It means that they’re not following a script word for word or trying to predict what the prospect will say.
The direction of a closing call all depends on what your prospect is saying. How does the closer react? How can the closer ask questions? What questions will be used to qualify the prospect?
It’s like trying to go into a sparring match in martial arts with predetermined moves. It unrealistic to think that in a tournament, you’ll know how to respond. That you’ll know if the opponent will throw a punch or throw a kick and you already know when to block. In a real match, it doesn’t happen like that.
It’s the same in closing. You cannot go into a scenario anticipating what your prospect is going to say or do. That’s not how the call works, or how business works. You need to be flexible enough to pivot when necessary.
Trust yourself, knowing that you could do the right thing. Train yourself to over prepare so that when you go into that scenario you just let your training and your skills come through in any scenario.
6. See Yourself For Who You Are
The word “superstar” really turned Bruce Lee off. It turns me off too. It suggests something unrealistic and beyond reach, compared to a “super actor”. A super actor is more real.
Now that I have followers from all over the world – millions and millions of fans – I admit I don’t see myself as a star or a celebrity. I’m still just me.
Even as a YouTube star I don’t see myself as a YouTube star. It’s just a social media platform that I have to share my story with you, that’s all. It just happens that I have millions of people following what I do and studying my work.
They enjoy what I share with them. I prefer my students to call me Sifu as their mentor. It’s a very simple title that means teacher and it’s a much more appropriate term so can totally relate to what Bruce is saying.
He and I have a very similar perspective not only on how we look at fame as mentors to others, but also how we acquire the knowledge that we teach.
7. All Knowledge Ultimately Means Self Knowledge
This is one of the most important lessons from Bruce Lee because it’s one of the most important rules for success. He believes all knowledge ultimately means self-knowledge.
What it means is self-awareness is about knowing yourself, and your own strengths and weaknesses. How well do you know yourself, both the good and the bad? Most people do not know themselves that well.
If you ask them what is their purpose or their passion, they have no clue. It’s very difficult to make any kind of decision or choose a career path if you don’t know yourself. Also, when on the path to achieving your goal, if you lack clarity, I promise you will lack of self-awareness.
It’s like a finger pointing to the moon.
8. Focus On The End Goal, Not The Vehicle
Now, when you’re looking at the finger pointing at the moon, don’t concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory! You won’t notice the beauty of the moon.
Sometimes we focus so much on the means to get somewhere that we lose sight of the end goal and where we are going.
The path might change but if you’re clear and you’re focusing on the big picture, then even if you’re experiencing some adversity you won’t lose sight of where you want to go.
Never lose sight of your vision. Don’t focus on the finger or you’ll miss all that heavenly glory.
One way to ensure you will stay on your path is to be open to dealing with change.
9. Be Flexible And Adaptable
Bruce Lee said we should empty our mind. Be formless, shapeless like water. When you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. And when you put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. Also, water can drip or crash. So be like water.
Be flexible with your approach and be adaptable. Don’t get too fixated on doing things your own way and be open to learning from everybody else.
A lot of my business acumen, knowledge and experience I learned from a lot of different people. I don’t have the approach that I’ve been doing it one way and it’s the only way to get it done. No. You have to adapt and change the way you do business.
When it comes to the way you do marketing, the way you do closing, and the way you do sales, you have to adapt and absorb.
One of the things that Bruce Lee talked about is you have to absorb what is useful and reject what is useless. And add what is eventually your own. So at first you have to learn from everybody and eventually you will develop your own style.
Those are Bruce Lee’s top nine rules for success.
Final Thoughts on Bruce Lee’s 9 Rules
It’s not a surprise that Bruce Lee’s popularity is never-ending. He doesn’t just teach martial arts. He teaches us to be honest and true to ourselves. To be open and adaptable to change.
We can succeed at what we want to do if we stay steadfast against adversity and challenge and we become aware of who we are, both our strengths and weaknesses.
As Bruce Lee once said, “Be like water, my friend.” Empty your mind, learn from others, and then develop your own style. Success is possible if you never lose sight of your end goal.
Which rule will you apply tomorrow? Comment below.
Written by: DAN LOK