Teacher, philosopher, businessman, film star and, of course, martial arts master - Bruce Lee was a phenomenon. Incredibble’s founder, Helen Dibble, shares some of Lee’s most powerful lessons that you can apply to your content strategy...
Two weeks ago I knew next to nothing about Bruce Lee. Now I’m a huge fan. I can rattle off fact after fact about the martial arts legend.
It started - as it often does these days - with a podcast: two fascinating episodes of History on Fire which focus on Lee’s life and career.
I’d heard of him before, of course, but I’d always thought of him as “the kung fu guy”. And, because I’m not a fighter, I didn’t think he was for me. But as I’ve gone deeper into personal development and self-discipline, he’s become an increasingly intriguing figure to me.
By the end of the podcast I was a convert! There was so much to take from his philosophy, so much to admire about his character and so much I could apply to my business.
Incredibble’s black belt editorial assistant
Turns out I’m not the only one on the Incredibble roster who’s in the Bruce Lee fan club.
Ebony-Storm Halladay - our editorial assistant with the coolest name ever - belongs to a family of martial artists and is a black belt in karate. Bruce is a deity in the Halladay household.
“Mum and dad would whisk me and my brother off to our Saturday morning karate class,” she told me, “And then in the evening they’d plonk us in front of the TV to watch Enter the Dragon.
“I was enraptured by his speed and skill. The remarkable precision and efficiency in every movement. It wasn't until I got my adult black belt at the age of 16 that I became fascinated by his philosophy.
“Most people think martial arts is a physical affair but it's not. It's all psychological. Bruce Lee understood the delicate balance between mind and body. You could say he put the 'art' in martial arts.”
And it doesn’t stop there…
Mike Burton, one of our regular writers, loved Lee’s films as a kid. He used to put on jogging bottoms and plimsolls and fight imaginary bad guys in his garden. As he grew up, he was just as impressed by Lee’s philosophy.
Apply Bruce Lee’s philosophy to your content strategy
Here are some of Lee’s striking thoughts that we found particularly inspiring and relevant to our work. You can use them to make sure your content packs a punch.
“I fear not the man who has practised 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practised one kick 10,000 times.”
Enter The Dragon is Bruce Lee’s most popular film. It’s earned over 400 times its budget, making it one of the most profitable films of all time.
In its infamous dungeon scene, Lee defeats a whopping 51 opponents in a stunning sequence that showcases his fighting prowess.
As spectacular as this scene is, it was only possible because Lee had been mastering the fundamentals of his art since the age of 13.
A spectacle often looks like magic but when you break it down you quickly see how it was built up from a series of simple actions - just like your marketing strategy.
And because our writers know the fundamentals of their craft inside out, they’re well equipped to be part of that strategy.
The advice in action
- Practise the fundamentals relative to your role and business
- Work with people who know their fundamentals too - you don’t have to know everything
“The successful warrior is the average man with laser-like focus.”
Bruce Lee knew how to focus. Do you?
Distractions are abundant in our modern world. The ability to focus is a scarce and therefore valuable skill. Those who can focus will come out on top.
In his book, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Cal Newport writes:
“To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction. Put another way, the type of work that optimizes your performance is deep work.”
Incredibble connects your business to proven writers while we manage the entire process from beginning to end.
This creates uninterrupted time for writers to focus on what they do best, so you can spend more time focusing on what you do best.
The benefits of such a process are non-linear. They multiply, creating more opportunities, more possibilities and more successes.
The advice in action
- Create opportunities conducive to deep work. Do this inside your department or by engaging others already focused on one vital task.
“Obey the principles without being bound by them.”
Bruce Lee questioned the strict devotion to form that he’d been taught when studying the Wing Chun school of kung fu. The form was useful for learning the spiritual and physical kung fu disciplines but it was a barrier to absolute mastery.
He started experimenting with his fighting style by incorporating elements from different schools into his practice. This would eventually become his own martial art, Jeet Kune Do. He famously described the style by saying, “When one has no form, one can be all forms.”
Here he made an important distinction between having no form at all and no form. Having no form means transcending form from a place of mastery. Only then could you see when the rules needed to be broken. No form was highly disciplined.
It’s tempting to break the rules. A lot of us are in a rush to be mavericks. It’s part and parcel of our passion for what we do. However, if you are going to break the rules make sure you do it from a highly disciplined place.
The advice in action
- Make sure you know the rules before you break them
“Long-term consistency trumps short-term intensity.”
As with all things in marketing, ideas often pay off in the long-term. That’s why content should be a commitment, not a campaign.
A long term strategy that calls for consistent action drives results. The white paper you’re publishing this month is a part of that consistency, but the intensity that goes into it will always be trumped by the long-term plans that stand behind and around it.
Lee knew this too. Showing up every day for a year was better than showing up every day for a week. It’s why we work with clients to help shape their long-term strategy and ensure any short-term intensity contributes to its success. Learn more about building an editorial strategy worth showing up for.
The advice in action:
- Rather than thinking ‘we need a white paper’, think about how a white paper - or content series - will help meet your goals for the year, and what else is needed to ensure success.
"I cannot teach you, only help you to explore yourself. Nothing more."
We spend a lot of time helping our clients think. Whether that’s by running a workshop, interviewing thought leaders or helping new companies discover their tone of voice.
We probe. We ask questions. We listen. Then we try to find the best way to say what you’ve said. We reflect your thoughts back to you in a first draft so you can tell us where we’ve misunderstood you. Then we go away and have another go. And this process continues until your thoughts are captured in the right words.
That’s why our clients frequently come away with a greater understanding of who they are. We help them refine their thinking and express themselves clearly.
The advice in action:
- Ask yourself and your team, who helps you explore and understand your business?
“Research your own experience. Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.”
This is Bruce Lee’s instruction manual for finding your own path in life. And it can easily be applied to your content department and plans.
Research your own experience: start from a neutral place, as the observer. What do you naturally gravitate towards? Take note of the tasks you and your team enjoy doing the most and what it is about them that you enjoy. What type of clients are you most naturally drawn to? What is it about working with them that sparks your interest?
Absorb what is useful: now take off the researcher’s hat and start pulling out the stuff that’s working for you, so you can create more of it. Focus on the things that really matter, the things that bring you and your team the most joy, not what LinkedIn or the latest best-seller says you should do.
Reject what is useless: the next step is to cut out what isn’t working. This is trickier than it sounds. Most of us have no problem spotting the worst things holding us back. But we struggle to see those ‘meh’ things; tasks that don’t necessarily harm us but certainly don’t move us forward.
Add what is essentially your own: this is the scariest part of the process because it’s about radical self-belief. It’s more than a brand differentiator. It means having the courage to be authentically you.
What will you take from this? What will you reject? What will you add that is essentially your own?