Martial Arts Lessons – Be Water, Be Fire

Balance In Duality

Bruce Lee is in full-on-master mode when he describes the state of being water. His words and delivery are beautiful, poetic and inspiring. However, I’m reminded of the legacy he left behind, and I think many would agree with me that his life was an expression of fire more than any other element. So, the place where I was taught the importance of balance in duality (because this is as much about body + mind, as tactics + strategy, as attack + defense, activity + rest, yin + yang etc, as any other metaphor or real application) was in my martial arts practice hall. I found my way to bujinkan budo taijutsu at the age of 14, after dabbling in some of the more popular combat sports before that. I still value the lessons from the first formative years in my first dojo, with my first instructors, as a major influence on my outlook on life.

It’s funny, the way things can stick in your mind when you learn them with your body. Let’s see now, if we can take this parable and translate it from the setting of lethal combat into business and life…

The Power Of Fire

First, be fire. Be like the glowing hot furnace, hone your skills in training just like the swordsmith uses heat and force to forge the sword. Let your purpose and your self be melded into one, like the layers of metal are pounded together under the sledgehammer. Burn away unnecessary movement, aimless thought and become of the same element as that of the battlefield.

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The fire of passion is probably the one trait of entrepreneurs that most people can agree on – it’s an absolute necessity. When you meet a person who started with an idea and then decided to act upon it, imposing his/her will upon the world and birthing something new, that focus and intensity can be felt almost like a physical sensation. That focused fire is a both a guiding light for the entrepreneur and a magnetic force on the people he/she meets.

For a great reality-based yet poetical take on this, read this excellent blog post by Jery Colonaa: “Disappearing in the fire

The Power Of Water

After that, let’s listen to the words of Bruce Lee. Be water. When in battle, trust your training and be fluid, flexible.

Youtube clip of Bruce Lee – “Be water my friend”

photo © 2009 Hartwig HKD | more info (via: Wylio)

In business, we have to be able to adapt to signals from the market. The attitudes and behavior of our customers, our competitors and the rest of our surroundings will affect our decisions and actions – that’s natural, and a reason why entrepreneurs need to be openminded and curious, constantly with a finger on the pulse of society and culture. Have you ever felt that the most practical and actionable ideas come to you naturally, in a constant flow, giving way to just the right decisions on an “intuitive” level? That is being like water, my friend. Water can seep between the narrowest cracks, and if we’re ever in a tight spot we must be cautious not to let blind, fiery passion lead us in circles, banging our heads against the wall, fighting invisible monsters.

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Let’s not burn ourselves out, ok? Yes, I speak from experience, and I’m trying to learn not to beat myself up too hard when I do fall down.

What are your thoughts, now? I’d love to have some discussions on this in the comments below! Until next time, you have my…

Warm Regards…

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