Today I’m going to tell you the story of the famous “kung fu underdog” and show you what the true meaning of kung fu really is.
I’ve been put through the ringer over the last few weeks in just about every way you can think of, and am sorely in need of a little kung fu inspiration myself. And I know from several of you that you’ve been going through your own hardships of late, so I bet you might be ready for a little inspiration, too—we can all use a little inspiration from time to time!
After all, how on earth can you expect to win your battles if you aren’t inspired to do so in the first place?
So let’s get right to it…to the very essence of kung fu, and how it can help you conquer your financial battles.
In the words of Bruce Lee,
“Kung fu is a philosophy; it’s an integral part of the philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism, the ideals of giving with adversity, to bend slightly and then spring up stronger than before, to have patience in all things, to profit by one’s mistakes and lessons in life. These are the many-sided aspects of the art of kung fu; it teaches the way to live, as well as the way to protect oneself.” – Bruce Lee, Striking Thoughts
At its core, kung fu can be summed up in one word: perseverance.
(You will also hear it synonymous with “mastery” and “resilience”, but if I had to choose just one word to describe the essence of kung fu, it would be perseverance.)
Perseverance, as we all know, simply means (in the words of my friend and mentor, the great Craig Ballantyne):
To never, ever, ever, EVER give up.
This, of course, is an essential element of mastery, and of resilience. You won’t be able to master any new skill, whether investing or bike-riding or basket-weaving, without persevering, and you of course won’t be very resilient if you give up at the first sign of struggle.
So let’s talk perseverance.
All great kung fu movies have one important element in common—each features a poor, downtrodden underdog who must overcome multiple hardships and persevere against all odds (usually kicking a lot of butt and getting kicked back almost to the point of death in the process), before finally arising victorious in the end.
I can recount a million famous stories like this:
Famous Kung Fu Underdogs
Ralph Macchio (“Daniel”) was thoroughly beaten up, picked on, and bullied by Johnny and his vicious gang of Cobra Kai students before studying and practicing martial arts and finally overcoming the ruthless gang at the final karate tournament.
Despite an illegal and vicious kick to his knee right before the final round, intended to physically disable him and render him unable to fight, Daniel persevered against all odds and arose victorious, even earning the respect of his former adversary.
Bruce Lee overcame racism, reverse-racism, illegal kicks and strikes to his back that severely injured him for years, double-crossing “friends” and partners, and more, to finally arise victorious—he opened a successful and famous martial arts school, achieved his Hollywood dreams, and earned the respect of his fellow Chinese who had formerly derided him for teaching non-Chinese the “secrets” of Chinese kung fu.
And these underdog stories are not just limited to martial arts…
Meet Arthur Boorman
Look at this inspiring less-than-5-minute video of Mr. Arthur Boorman, a wounded and disabled Gulf War paratrooper veteran who, thanks to a botched surgery, thought he could never walk unassisted again:
For 15 years, Arthur believed the words of his doctors who told him time and time again, “You will never walk on your own again”.
But in the words of Arthur himself, “Just because I can’t do it today, doesn’t mean I won’t be able to do it one day.”
These underdog stories are also not limited to physical acts…
Jared’s Subway Ad
Let me tell you a business story of the famous “Jared” Subway ad:
The president of Subway’s advertising agency got a tip to check out an article written in Men’s Health entitled “Crazy Diets That Work” about a nameless, faceless guy who had lost more than 100 pounds by eating “sub sandwiches” (no mention of the famous chain).
The ad agency thought it probably a wild goose chase, but sent an intern to Indiana to see if the man really existed, and whether he had eaten the subs at the famous chain (or some other sub store). The intern returned victorious, having found Jared and confirmed the story and the Subway chain…but the ad agency’s battle had just begun.
First, the Subway marketing director said, “I’ve seen that before, fast foods can’t do healthy” and shot it down instantly, although he agreed to run the idea by Subway’s lawyers.
Of course the lawyers said, “You can’t do that, it’s too close to a medical claim that might create a liability, blah blah blah” (you know lawyers…:)) and said that running an ad like that would require a million disclaimers.
The ad was dead at the national level, but still the ad agency didn’t give up. They contacted the regional Subway franchises…only to get stymied again because commercials were paid for at the national level as a benefit to franchisees, but the national group had shot it down. Who would pay for the ad to be made?
Finally, the ad agency decided to make the commercial spots for free (something the president recounted he had done for the first and only time in his career!)…and the rest was history.
The first “Jared” ad ran on January 1, 2000, and the very next day USA Today, ABC, and Fox News called…and on the third day, Oprah called.
Subway’s sales jumped 18% in 2000, and another 16% in 2001, compared to only 7% for other sandwich chains like Quizno’s (and the broader market, which at the time was tanking due to the Dot Com collapse!).
What About You?
We all have these stories in our lives, whether physical ailments we must overcome, mental and emotional abuse from people we thought were “on our side” but find they are not, or of course in our finances…who among us hasn’t been affected in some way by an epic bubble bursting?
My financial bubble burst in 2000-2002, when the Nasdaq Composite lost 78% of its value and took the vast majority of my money along with it.
What about you? Were you affected by the NASDAQ collapse? How about the subprime crisis that tanked all markets, even precious metals and so-called “non-correlated” assets? Or the associated real estate / housing collapse?
Perhaps you lost your job, or had to take on an unexpected side job in your retirement because you thought you would be earning 5% – 6% “safely” on your investments, but thanks to Ben Bernanke you’re only earning 1% – 2%, less than the cost of inflation?
Each of us have these defining, underdog moments in our lives.
The difference, of course, is what you choose to do with them.
Do you give up and quit? (Of course not…!)
Or do you buckle down, even more determined than before, and fight the demons that want to get the best of you? (YES!)
How to Fight and Persevere
I’m sure you’ve heard the old adage, success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration, so while I hope you are inspired by these many kung fu underdog stories (and my own crazy comeback kid stories!), I want to make sure I give you the skills and weapons you need for the 99% perspiration, too…e.g. exactly HOW to fight!
I’ve boiled perseverance down to my top 5 strategies for you…these are the exact steps I took back in 2001 to decide to kick some butt on my finances and become an accredited investor, and these are the exact same strategies I use every day today when the going gets tough (as it inevitably does!):
1. Find your real supporters. My A#1 supporter is Kung Fu Guy, who has stuck by me through thick and thin for more than 12 years and counting now. And please count ME in your supporter list—I support you and your quest for financial independence 100% and will help you however I can!
I can’t stress this enough—it is critical that you find out quickly whom you can count on when the going gets tough, and who is only looking out for their own self-interest and will drop you like a hot potato at the first hint of “trouble”. There are those you can reveal your inner self and aspirations to, and those you can’t. Learn the difference between the two, protect yourself accordingly, and flank yourself with your true supporters, those who firmly believe in you and in your quest for financial independence.
2. Know your end goal. Use your White Belt Vision and make sure you have a crystal clear understanding of your end goal and your “why”. Maintain a relentless focus on it and do not let yourself be swayed by upsetting incidents along the way. There are many paths you can take to your final destination.
3. Keep on keeping on. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, one “baby step” at a time. Use the power of inertia in your favor…an object in motion tends to stay in motion. If you continue to take small steps toward your goal, each and every day, before you know it, your obstacle will be a thing of the past.
4. As quickly as you are able, move to a useful and useable emotional state. Sitting around moping and eating tubs of ice cream and “woe is me”-ing works for a day or two…(I have to admit I did this a bit in 2001…) but then you need to get your mad on and channel that anger into ACTION!
5. Develop your inner killer instinct. For whatever reason, women in particular typically have a more difficult time with this…we’re brought up to be “nice” and “pleasant” and “pleasing” and “helpful”. But when Ben Bernanke announces QE3 to infinity, or you peek at your latest brokerage statement and see only red/negative, you need to come up with something a little deeper and more grisly than “oh well!”
My absolute favorite saying of ALL. TIME. on this is from kung fu master Will Smith:
“The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, but if we get on the treadmill together, right, there’s two things: either you’re gettin’ off first, or I’m gonna die. It’s really that simple.” – Will Smith, Kung Fu Master
So what do you think? Have you got some game now? Are you going to go get on that treadmill and kick some serious kung fu finance butt? I certainly hope so!
Please let me know what you think about perseverance in the comments! When have you persevered in the face of setbacks? What strategies do you use to hang tight when the going gets tough?
Please share with us in the comments!
To your financial success,
— Kung Fu Girl
P.S. and please persevere on emailing me…my subscriber numbers have grown astronomically as of late, which is awesome, but it does make it hard to get back to you individually in a timely manner! But please keep on keeping on as I love hearing from you and am working to catch up on my backlog of email!