Entrepreneurship Bruce Lee Style

Bruce Lee says that you win you must empty your mind and be like water. This is an important lesson for entrepreneurship.

Be like water

Water tunnels through rock. Water formed the grand canyon. Water is probably going to be the next thing we humans fight over but that's for another post.

In the famous movie clip below, Bruce Lee, one of the most bad ass people ever (sorry Chuck Norris), teaches us to empty our minds, to become formless, shapeless, like water. This is a great lesson for entrepreneurs.

So how do we apply it?

In the beginning of the clip, Bruce says that trying to plan a fight is the surest way to lose. On the other hand, in business school you're taught that failure to plan is a plan for failure. So which is it?

Both actually.

How much planning is too much

As an entrepreneur, you're not looking 5 or 10 years into the future, you're looking at today. Have you ever tried to write a 5 year plan, or answer what you want to be doing in 5 years in a job interview, and kept a straight face? That's because no one knows what's going to happen in the next 5 years, or 10.

So we envision the long term, and we plan for the short term, short term being today or the next 5 or 7 days at most.

Too much forward planning locks you into expected outcomes, and decreases your agility.

But measure, measure, and measure

In order for shorter term planning to work and work well, you need to measure everything. Then, pivot quickly and without remorse. Learn from the past but do not dwell on it.

Plan no further than your first move

Before fighters get into the ring, they do their research. They watch past fights of their opponent, and look for weaknesses. They form a high-level strategy, such as move around until he gets tired.

When the fighters meet in the ring, one of two things happens – they either size each other up for a short time, or one attacks right away. Based on the high level strategy they formed, they implement their first move. After that all bets are off. Training and experience kick in, and the fight goes to whatever conclusion.

Clear your mind, be like water

As Bruce Lee teaches us, clear your mind, and be like water. Form your high-level strategy, put your metrics in place, implement your first move, keep making moves, and pivot quickly as the information comes in.

And now for your lesson grasshopper


  1. Be Water ! I love it. This can be applied to everything in life and business.

    We have much to learn from martial arts master like Bruce. I agree 100% most of the time our minds are full with all sorts of stories we tell ourselves. How can we expect to work, grow or listen to clients?

    Thanks for pointing this simple but very powerful image. I look forward to reading more of your post.

    • Robert Dempsey says:

      Thanks for coming John and for your comment. As a (now ex) practitioner of the martial arts I’m a huge Bruce Lee fan. No one says “bad ass” more than him for sure.

      The more we can flow the easier it is for us to shift at will to take advantages of opportunities as they arise. Bigger companies can’t do that, which gives us a huge advantage in this situation.

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