“Take the first shot,” he said.
“Bob, you’re my friend. I’m not going to hit you,” I drunkenly slurred back.
That was the last thing I remember.
Soon after I was in the hospital, and even though my face looked like a piece of cauliflower, the doctor said my nose was not broken.
Sadly, he was wrong. But I wouldn’t know that until 2 weeks later, when the bones had already started healing.
It was college. And I had the worst fight of my life. Actually, it wasn’t a fight. Bob was (past tense) my friend and I kept my word about not hitting him. Apparently my momentary pacifism did not stop him.
I had fought before. Many times. Growing up in a bad neighborhood in NYC necessitated regular fighting.
I had won some. I had lost some. But I had never been banged up this bad before. It was a whole other level of suffering.
Lesson: When you have the chance to strike first – Strike First!
After healing up and licking my wounds, I decided that I would ease up on the booze and learn to really defend myself.
Yes, I had brawled all my life but I had never been formally trained in fighting skills.
I joined the school boxing club and got to training. After a few weeks I started sparring. The first few times were okay, but then they put me with Andre.
I was 6 feet and about 180 lbs. Andre was about 5 foot 5 inches and 115 lbs soaking wet.
I was taller. My arms were longer. And I had a lot more power behind my punches. I was going to demolish Andre.
I was wrong.
Andre moved faster than anyone I had ever seen. Every time my glove was supposed to land on his face he was somehow already next to me punching my face.
It was humiliating! I did not hit him once!
Interestingly, the whole time my body kept saying “kick him.” But since it was boxing, I couldn’t.
Lesson: Deploy ALL your assets!
I quit boxing and took up Martial Arts, so I could kick!
Over the years I studied many styles and earned several black belts. I even taught for about 7 years!
Although I love Martial Arts, the standard way of teaching it comes down to having a classroom filled with people doing exactly the same thing at exactly the same time.
Having studied so many styles, my body started wanting to blend them together. But every time I started changing moves or adjusting katas (forms) my teachers would protest that it was “not right.”
I was told to do what everybody else was doing.
Then I discovered Bruce Lee.
Although Bruce was long dead, his books and movies were filled with amazing teachings on how to be a great Martial Artist.
Bruce had many great sayings, but the two that made the most impact on me were:
- “Using no way as Way. Having no limitation as Limitation. “
- “Use what is useful. Discard what is useless. “
Eventually, I left formal Martial Arts training so I could create a system that worked best for me, just like Bruce had done for himself.
As I was training in Martial Arts I was also working in the business world.
And after 10 years of the daily grind, when I finally decided to become my own boss, I defaulted to the basics: Doing things the way everybody else does.
That produced okay results, but nothing extraordinary.
Then I decided to apply Bruce Lee’s philosophies to how I built my business.
Was it easy? No.
Did it work? Yes.
I approached clients differently. I approached marketing differently. I approached consulting differently. I approached teaching and training differently. I approached running my business differently.
I used no way as my Way and had no limitation as my Limitation.
By letting go of “the way things are done” I was able to do a lot more things. And that decision has lead to the success I enjoy today.
Lesson: Do what works naturally for you.
So go be your genuine yourself. Enjoy yourself thoroughly. Express yourself openly. Do what comes naturally and create your own ‘unlimited way.’