Kung fu is not simply a combative martial art. The authentic Chinese translation describes it as a tremendous sense of total achievement or mastery of one’s craft, whatever your particular craft may be. Kung fu also refers to much more than just physical prowess–it is intended to affect your entire way of thinking and behaving.

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

This weekend I had the opportunity to visit a business that embodies true kung fu. My husband and I took our girls to lunch at an amazing Turkish Bistro in Sunnyvale. (We’re partial to Turkish food ever since we spent six weeks backpacking there… it’s a stunningly beautiful country with warm, welcoming, hospitable people, rich history, and of course, delicious Mediterranean food!)

Many things stood out about this business, but the one that caught my attention and prompted me to share this story with you was this little note they included in the menu. It read:

Dear Valued Customer,

We would like to start by thanking you for the wonderful opportunity to please you every time you visit our restaurant. Without your support during tough economic times and downtown construction, our business would cease to exist. But you stood with us!

We wanted to return the favor by serving the best all natural meat from Niman Ranch because we think you deserve excellent service and we care deeply about quality.

It has been a privilege to serve you for the past eight years and we look forward to serving you in the future.

Sincerely,

Taverna Bistro Staff

True Kung Fu: Appreciative, Resilient, Value Creators

This is kung fu at its finest. This company exercised a lot of patience during both the economic crisis (which still rages on) and the redevelopment of downtown Sunnyvale (which rendered the downtown a practically unusable mess for years).

But instead of succumbing to adversity (which, by the way, many other restaurants did on the very same block… we counted at least 6 boarded up businesses in a small 2-block stretch), Taverna Bistro decided to “bend slightly”, and has now sprung up even stronger than before.

Now, this can’t have been easy for them… Turkish food is not nearly as popular as say Italian, Mexican, or Chinese. And they had to overcome not just an abysmal economy, but also an almost-complete closure and re-construction of the street on which they were located! But instead of admitting defeat, they chose to survive and thrive and to challenge the status quo by daring to think different and be different.

Why am I telling you this?

Aside from the fact that it’s a great motivational story (we all love rooting for the underdog, and in this case, the tiny Turkish “small business” won!), there are some important lessons here that we can all learn from:

  • Successful people and businesses are resilient–they bend with the wind like bamboo rather than breaking into pieces like the stiffest trees
  • Successful people and businesses continually challenge the status quo and refuse to settle for their circumstances–instead, like Bruce Lee, they create opportunities
  • Successful people and businesses are constantly striving to create value for others–and in return, they get paid
  • Successful people and businesses are appreciative–they are grateful for their customers, friends, associates, and for all of the opportunities they DO have

What is your plan?

What is your plan for challenging the status quo? For not blindly accepting your lot in life but instead daring to live the life you dream of?

Here is mine…

I strive to:

  • Seek out new answers and interesting people every day
  • Get outside of my comfort zone as often as possible (this is challenging, but what is life if not exciting and challenging?)
    Create value for others (hence the purpose of this website–investing is fun, challenging, and lucrative, but I can do much more in the world to help others)
  • Know my enemies and prepare for battle to the extent possible (more on this coming soon…)
    Be grateful and appreciative of everyone in my life

What is your plan? I challenge you to get on out there and create some opportunities…

[Ed. Note: Susan Fujii is an accredited investor and the author of www.KungFuFinance.com, a website dedicated to empowering people to make better financial decisions to and to help her readers make sense of the current financial environment.]

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