Black Belt Entrepreneurship – 10 Business Lessons I Learned from Martial Arts

Some people claim that being a Christian and practicing martial arts are incompatible.  I happen to disagree and in fact, I would argue that my life and business have greatly benefitted from it.

Not only have I gained greater confidence, self-discipline and ability to focus, I have also learned many valuable lessons about success, failure and perseverance that apply well to the ups and downs any entrepreneur inevitably faces as they go about building their business.

Today, allow me to share with you the top 10 lessons I learned from many years of practicing a variety of martial arts.  The picture above was taken several years ago after my younger daughter and I had just finished a competition.

  1. Master the basics
    I frequently see new business owners trying to emulate those who have been in business considerably longer and/or have significantly more experience. Rather than focusing on mastering the basics of doing business and setting up solid business processes, these entrepreneurs try to do it all. The consequences – an overwhelmed entrepreneur and mediocre results!   In business as in martial arts, putting on a display of complicated routines won’t save you from getting your rear handed to you by someone who has mastered the basics and can execute them flawlessly.  The solution – start with ONE idea and expand from there once you have mastered the new process.Don’t let others pressure you into starting and managing everything from a mailing list to an e-newsletter and offering free webinars.
  2. Don’t let the look or size of your opponent intimidate you
    Success in martial arts is not defined by appearance or fancy moves. Likewise, in business we must not allow ourselves to feel intimidated by someone’s impressive number of Facebook fans or Twitter followers as if it was an indicator of success.  Keep in mind that attracting and converting prospects are two different things – only the latter puts money in your bank account! That said, stop comparing yourself to others and instead focus on making sure every single task YOU complete is performed with excellence.
  3. Don’t get distracted
    When you are in the middle of a sparring match, there is no time to wipe the sweat off your brow, adjust your uniform, get a drink of water or analyze your mistakes at great length. Absolute focus is required and giving in to distraction will result in losing points and ultimately the fight. In business, we must practice the same diligence and keep our eyes on the prize.  Don’t spend too much time beating yourself up about the sale that didn’t happen, the typo in your presentation or glitches at your recent webinar.  Simply learn from the experience and keep moving.
  4. Don’t show your fear
    Confidence, not to mistake with cockiness, is a critical factor in attracting and winning clients. If you seem uncertain and timid you will have a very hard time getting prospects to trust you with their business. It is critical that you practice an attitude of “even if I don’t know everything, I will figure it out”. Bank on your strengths and gifts and ask God to provide the rest.  If you step out in faith and trust Him to lead, He will show up in supernatural ways you can’t even imagine.
  5. Always give 100%
    There have been days when I was dead tired, suffered from achy joints and absolutely did not feel like showing up for class. On days like this, my instructor asks us to apply one simple rule: “don’t show up unless you plan to give 100% effort”, meaning don’t show up, whine about your ailments and drag everyone else down with your negative energy. You too will encounter these moments as you go about building and running your business and I would advise you to practice the same rule. If you know you are not able to commit the best of your focus and energy, you owe it to yourself and most certainly your prospects and clients to re-schedule your event, coaching call, speaking engagement or presentation until you can show up and give 100%.
  6. Be willing to accept correction
    Learning a martial art requires a willingness to be corrected. The people to get hurt first are usually the know-it-alls and the proud. When someone with more experience or a trusted peer offers correction, be willing to listen and accept their advice. If you close yourself off to input from those who have “been there, done that”, you are missing out on valuable and often free advice that will help you move your business forward more quickly.
  7. Show respect
    In martial arts, the class typically lines up in order from highest to lowest rank as a sign of respect. The senior students have already paid their dues and thus earned the respect of the class. In business, I often see people bash others who are further along in their entrepreneurial journey which typically points to a root cause of pride and envy. No matter where you are in your business, respect the opinions and honor the success of those who are further along – you just might learn a thing or two.
  8. Get a great coach
    Having a success coach who will help you gain clarity around your goals and hold you accountable to achieving them is essential. Your coach will not only help you track your progress, he/she also will remind you of the goals you set for yourself and why you decided they were important to you. A good coach will have experienced many of the challenges you will encounter as you build your kingdom business and advise you on how to best overcome obstacles. For more information on how to find the perfect coach for you, read my article “How to choose the right Coach”.
  9. Remain humble as you grow
    I have always been impressed by the level of humility displayed by the senior belts at my martial arts dojang. Rather than showing off their superior skills, they are always ready to teach and help the junior students improve their skills and share stories about their own learning experiences. In business, never forget your roots as you climb the proverbial success ladder but rather take others with you by mentoring, teaching and showing them how they can grow as well. Freely share that which God has blessed you with and never look down on someone else’s challenges.
  10. Never stop Improving
    In martial arts it is important to set progressive goals to continuously improve one’s techniques, speed, endurance and flexibility. No matter how high someone’s belt rank, there is always another level of skill to strive for, another chance to beat one’s own personal best level of performance. In your business, make sure to always have your next set of goals written down, including a list of tasks to be completed to support each goal and associated deadlines. This will ensure that you achieve continued business growth and maintain momentum.

To learn more about how to achieve Black Belt level entrepreneurial success, I invite you to schedule a free business strategy session with me.  Click here to access my online calendar.


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