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20 Bruce Lee Quotes That Apply to Business

Bruce Lee is a famous actor, martial artist, director, and philosopher who was born in San Francisco on November 27, 1940. He starred in eight films before his life was tragically cut short at the age of 32 on July 20, 1973. Officially, his death was recorded as death by misadventure, although it was rumored that he died of an allergic reaction to a painkilling drug. Despite his limited career in entertainment, he was an icon for many people who admired his talents as a martial artist. Bruce Lee spoke many words of wisdom that people found influential, and it is possible to apply these to business situations. Here are 20 Bruce Lee quotes that are perfect for business.

1. On Taking Responsibility

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them” -  via Inspiration 

Making mistakes is an inevitable part of a business and it is not something that you should fear. Just because you make a mistake, it does not mean you have failed. What is important is to have the courage to acknowledge your mistakes and then to use them to your advantage. You can use your mistakes as a learning curve as it is unlikely that you will make the same mistake in the future.

2. On Taking Action

“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” - via Epreneur

Running a business needs you to take action and not just to sit there thinking about what you might do about something. The same applies to when you start a business in the first place. If you have a good idea, it will never become a successful business until you take the first step to do something about it.You need to take action to get things started.

3. On Questioning Yourself

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer." 

Constantly questioning yourself in business is a way of making the right decisions and of applying the right strategies to different situations. You should question everything you do as this will set you on the right path. Ask yourself questions about why you are doing certain things, if you are doing tasks in the best way, if there are any alternatives, who is the best person to complete a task, and how you can do something better in the future. By stopping to pause and asking yourself these questions, you are more likely to make the best business decisions.

4. On Becoming an Expert in Your Field

"I fear not the man who has practice 10,000 different kicks, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

In this quote, Bruce Lee is telling people that you should not try to do all tasks; you should become a master in one area. If you are setting up a business, you should choose an area that plays to your strengths and is an area that interests you. Then, you can focus all your energy on becoming an expert in that field. If you are in business already, concentrate on becoming an expert in your role and delegate other tasks that do not fit in with your specialist area to those who have knowledge or experience of those roles.

5. On Valuing Your Time

"If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of."

Time is one of the most valuable resources, not only in business but also in life in general. It is important that you make the most of your time so that you don’t look back wishing that you had lived life in a different way. Managing your time is a vital part of running a business effectively, efficiently, and successfully. Make sure you can account for all your time and that you have allocated more of your time to the tasks that matter the most.

6. On Setting Yourself Goals

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.

Setting goals is an important step in the planning process for any business. This should include both short-term and long-term goals that relate to various aspects of your business. Do not waste too much time thinking about whether you can achieve your goals. Instead, view them as something to work towards that will keep you motivated. Not meeting your goals is not always a disaster. It is an opportunity to reflect on the journey towards achieving the goal and this will help you to learn what you did well and what you can do better next time.

7. On Standing Out from the Competition

“Adapt what is useful, reject what is useless, and add what is specifically your own.”

These days, it is very hard to do something original in business. There is always someone who has done something before. This does not necessarily mean that you cannot succeed with a certain product or service just because someone else has done it before, but it does mean that you need to find your own way of doing it to stand out. This Bruce Lee quote describes this situation perfectly. If a concept has been done before, you should get rid of its worst aspects, make the most of the best bits, and add your own twist to make yourself stand out from the competition. It is this ability to adapt and add your personality to something that will help you to succeed.

8. On Keeping Things Simple

“Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”

In some areas of life, using lots of techniques, using many strategies, and involving lots of people is the best way to go. For example, creating a five-tier wedding cake with different layers and fondants and lots of handcrafted sugar flowers is a task that requires lots of detail. However, the opposite is true in business. Keeping things simple is the way to go in most circumstances. Adopting a simplistic approach will avoid complications and mistakes.

9. On Overcoming Challenging Times

 “Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one”

At some point in your business life, you will face a challenging time. In fact, the probability is that you will face several challenging times. Try not to fear these times as it is an almost inevitable part of business life. It is how you tackle the challenging times that shows your strength as a business person. You will need strength to get through it and you will come out even stronger once you have overcome your problems.

10. On Not Restricting Yourself with Limitations

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."

Putting too many limitations on yourself and your business is very restrictive and can prevent you from reaching your full potential. Although there are some situations where limitations are necessary, avoid setting them whenever possible. This will give you the freedom to progress and succeed.

11. On Taking a Flexible Approach

"Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind."

Sometimes things change and the plans you have made or the strategies you have put in place are no longer the best options. Just because you have made a plan does not mean that you have to stick with it. In fact, this is often a foolish approach to take. It is important that you can adopt a flexible and adaptable approach to running your business. If a situation changes, you need to re-evaluate and change your plans and strategies accordingly.

12. On Being Ambitious

“If you think a thing is impossible, you’ll only make it impossible.”

This quote is about not setting the bar too low for yourself. By doing so, you are limiting your chances of success. It is a mistake to think that the things you really want to achieve are not possible as then you will not even try to achieve them. Setting yourself ambitious targets will stretch you as this will motivate you to put the effort in and keep trying.

13. On Creating Your Own Opportunities

“To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities.”

Sometimes it may feel like the opportunities for you to progress and succeed are not there and it can seem like circumstances are holding you back. Instead of letting this put a stop to your dreams, create your own opportunities instead. Opportunities do not always land at your feet, so there are times when you need to put effort into finding them yourself.

14. On the Importance of Focus

"The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus." - via Goal Cast

The importance of retaining focus is something that nobody in business should underestimate. You should have a clear idea of your goals and the steps that you need to take to get there. Avoid unnecessary distractions that will take you away from the important tasks.

15. On Never Giving Up on Your Dream

"Defeat is a state of mind; No one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality."

When things get tough in business it can sometimes seem easier just to give up. You may not see the way forward and it can seem too difficult to even try. You need to get yourself out of this frame of mind and adopt a positive attitude. As Bruce Lee says, defeat is only a state of mind. If you don’t admit defeat, then you have not been defeated.

16. On Striving to Achieve More

“Be happy, but never satisfied.”

Even when you have achieved some success, you should not settle. You should always ask yourself what you can do next and how you can achieve more. Although it is important to feel pride at what you have already achieved, you should not feel satisfied. You have not achieved true greatness until you have taken yourself as far as you can possibly go and reached your full potential.

17. On Having a Positive Attitude

"Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the man who wins, is the man who thinks he can."

While being good at something will give you a good start in business, it is not always those who have the skills and knowledge that will succeed. It is the people who have the right attitude and a positive frame of mind that have the most potential as they believe in themselves and their business. The rest are things that they can learn along the way on their journey to success.

18. On Being Your Own Person

“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.”

Most people in business have a business idol who they admire. The mistake they make is to try to replicate what that person has done believing that this is the best way for them to achieve the same level of success. However, it is important to be yourself and to pave your own way to success. That is what your idol did to become successful, so you must also find your own way.

19. On the Importance of Continuous Professional Development

"Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning."

Even when you have achieved some success in your business, it does not mean that you know everything and that you have stopped learning. There is always something new that you can learn, and it is essential that you are willing to participate in continuous professional development. Things are constantly changing in the business world and you need to learn new things to keep up. Also, even when you are successful, there is always another step forward you can take with your business to avoid it plateauing. Learning something new will help you to prevent this from happening.

20. On the Importance of Reflection and Self-Awareness

“It is not a shame to be knocked down by other people. The important thing is to ask when you’re being knocked down, ‘Why am I being knocked down?’ If a person can reflect in this way, then there is hope for this person.” 

At times, people may criticize you, knock you down, or defeat you. There is no shame in any of these situations. What is important is what you can learn from it. Use it as an opportunity to reflect on a situation and ask yourself what you did wrong. You can then adapt your approach in the future, learn from your mistakes, and become a stronger leader. In turn, this will give your chances of success a boost.

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Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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