Forget Wall Street or Glengarry Glenn Ross, this is the movie that should be at the top of your inspirational collection!
So why do I think so highly of this well disguised children’s movie? Let’s take a look at 5 lessons buried within that you may have missed!
Lesson 1: There is no secret ingredient!
After getting the Dragon Scroll that is supposed to possess the deepest secrets of Kung Fu, Po finds it blank. Thinking the secret to success has eluded him, Po runs away from the upcoming fight only for this important lesson to be revealed by his adoptive father.
During that conversation, Po’s father reveals that the secret ingredient to his famous “Secret Ingredient Noodle Soup” is actually NOTHING! As his father says,
“For something to be special you only need to believe it’s special”.
Po applies this message to his training and realizes there is nothing special about the Dragon Warrior other than hard work and the belief you can succeed.
What do we learn from this? Great people are made, not born. Michael Jordan spent thousands of hours training to become the most successful basketball player in history. Mark Cuban worked 7 years with no vacation on his first real company MicroSolutions where he credits his success to putting it far more time and effort to study manuals and out learn his competitors.
Many people think that you have to be born with a “gift” to be great at something but I believe that if you really look at successful people you’ll find more often than not, they were born with a passion toward something and they leveraged their interest as motivation to put in massive amounts of hard work!
There is no shortage of passionate people who never achieve success. The ones that do are the ones that aren’t looking for some secret ingredient or special situation; they are the ones that go out and work hard to create their own fortune!
Lesson 2: Learn from those around you, but be yourself!
Po gets a lot of guidance from his Masters and fellow warriors and draws a lot of strength from their advice. Ultimately he finds that he is unable to duplicate what they are able to do so he finds his own unique way to practice Kung Fu.
What can we learn from this? Having mentors or people to look up to is very helpful and will quicken your ability to grow, but don’t spend your time trying to copy their style or methods. If you want to be a public speaker, don’t try to be just like Tony Robbins. The world already has one of those and he’s probably better at it than you are anyway!
Instead, study their techniques and see what common threads they all share but find your own voice. Take inspiration from their journeys toward success but find your own path.
Po learned from everyone around him but when it came time for the big fight it was his own unique style that saved the day! Find your voice because that is what your success will be based on in the end!
Lesson 3: The most productive process is often the most painful!
If you’re trying something truly great, it will probably have a steep and painful learning curve. This is especially true if you want to go through any big changes in your life. When Po first started his new training he was horrible at it.
“I probably sucked more today than anyone in the history of Kung Fu, in the history of China, in the history of sucking.”
Again, this comes back to the importance of perseverance and hard work. Every day you practice a new skill you get one step closer and it gets a little easier. Go forward with the expectation that it’s going to be tough and you’re not going to be good at it right away. Allow yourself the freedom to struggle through the process as you learn new skills. I have found the more I struggle through things the deeper their impact ends up being on my life.
Lesson 4: Our limitations can be our greatest strengths!
When the movie starts out Po is at a clear disadvantage. Being a Panda he is heavy, slow, not graceful, and lacks the natural weapons of the Furious Five. These limitations lead Po to believe that he does not have the qualities needed to become a Kung Fu warrior, regardless of how bad he wants it.
By the end of the movie we find these very limitations are his greatest strengths. Po’s size makes him immune to most of Tai Lung’s attacks and his inability to learn the other fighting styles leads him to create his own method of Kung Fu that is far more effective in the end.
Many people miss that this is the very thing that made Master Oogway so amazing at Kung Fu. Being a turtle he lacked speed so he turned his limitation into the mastery of focus that allowed him to unravel the secrets of Kung Fu in the first place.
What can we take away from this?
In my first business I had very limited funds to start out with. I couldn’t afford to outfit the shop with lots of equipment and spend a ton of money on advertising to get new customers. Instead I had to focus on what we really needed and we spent a lot of time fostering close relationships with our customers so they would send their friends and family as well. Five years later almost 80% of our business is repeat and referral customers!
Embracing our limitations often leads to creative solutions to problems. This can lead to a unique perspective and an advantage over our competition.
The bottom line is that we all have a list of reasons why we shouldn’t be successful. Actor Jim Carey and singer Jewel were both homeless before becoming successful, Oprah Winfrey was molested by several family members as a child, and Richard Branson is dyslexic and got poor grades in school. While I can’t say that all these things made them stronger people, they all could have been excuses to give up trying.
Instead of focusing on how your limitations hold you back, spend your energy on how to get around them and succeed!
Lesson 5: You never really arrive!
All the characters throughout the movie continue to work hard to polish their craft. Master Oogway is usually deep in meditation, Master Shifu is constantly trying to master inner peace and the Furious Five are training on a daily basis to become better each day, even though they are legends to all those around them.
The wildly successful people we all hear about and look to for inspiration were once just average successful people. Michael Jordan was once a decent basketball player. Bill Gates was once just a good business owner. Dean Koontz was once a moderately successful author. The key with all of them was they didn’t coast once they got a little traction. They all kept working hard, becoming better each day until they were at the top of their game.
Just because you’re starting to see success doesn’t mean you can start to relax. Bring your best every day and try to get better each day and learn something new. You must embrace a mentality of constant improvement because what got you here will no
So there you go! Kung Fu Panda may be the best movie you can watch to learn principles of success. If you haven’t seen it yet I promise it’s much more entertaining than most of the business movies I’ve seen and more family friendly. Watch with your kids and teach them how they can develop characteristics to become more successful in their lives.