3 Valuable Lessons for Entrepreneurs from “Kung Fu Panda”
Have you seen the movie, Kung Fu Panda?
It was released in 2008, has made over $600 million dollars to date, and was adored by nearly 90% of critics!
Now, you might think Kung Fu Panda is a kid’s movie simply because it is animated … that’s OK, I would have made that assumption to.
Personally, I’m a total nerd for animated movies + TV series, especially those with a compelling story (and amusing characters don’t hurt).
Kung Fu Panda has all that and more … but this isn’t a movie review.
Whether the movie was written for kids, adults, or both, there is incredible wisdom hidden behind those pixels.
OK, whenever you’re done laughing, please keep reading 😉
This is the beginning of a new series of posts, featuring valuable lessons for entrepreneurs from – you guessed it – animated movies.
It’s easy to think that a certain type of movie, or book, or place couldn’t teach you anything, but to have the most fulfilling business + life, we never stop learning.
“I maintained my edge by always being a student; you will always have something new to learn.” – Jackie Joyner Kersee
Here are 3 valuable lessons for entrepreneurs from Kung Fu Panda:
Lesson 1: “There are no accidents.”
This particular quote is mentioned numerous times, the first being when Oogway (Randall Duk Kim) chooses Po (Jack Black) to be the Dragon Warrior.
Shifu (Dustin Hoffman), the current Master of the Furious Five martial artists and the one who will be responsible for training the Dragon Warrior, insists that Po showing up was an accident … and Oogway says matter-of-factly: “There are no accidents.”
Another key scene where this quote shows up is when Po is raiding the kitchen because he eats when he’s upset. He’s stuffing his face when Shifu shows up.
Shifu is surprised briefly, then he tells Po as he leaves that Monkey (Jackie Chan) keeps his cookies on the top shelf. Shifu waits outside the room as Po makes a focused pursuit to get those cookies.
When Shifu comes back into the kitchen:
Shifu: “Look at you.”
Po: “Yeah, I know, I disgust you.”
S: “No no, I mean how did you get up there?”
P: I don’t know, I guess … I don’t know, I was just getting a cookie.”
S: “And yet you are 10 feet off the ground and have done a perfect split.”
P: “No, this? This is just a … accident.”
S: “There are no accidents.”
What’s the lesson for entrepreneurs?
Whether you believe in fate or destiny, that’s not important.
Sometimes, the lesson you need to learn is plopped right in front of your face.
You may call it an accident, but there are no accidents.
Even if you screwed up (as we all do from time to time), even if it wasn’t intentional – it wasn’t an accident, it was a lesson waiting to happen, and one that you clearly needed to learn (or it wouldn’t have happened in the first place).
If you think that everything is going to go smooth peanut butter on you all the time, then you probably haven’t been an entrepreneur that long (haha, kidding, but not really).
Errors are guaranteed, including nasty public ones. Sometimes, software just doesn’t work. Sometimes, links are broken. Sometimes, you get on the bad side of someone with some sway in your industry.
Remember: there are no accidents, but there are endless things to learn from.
Lesson 2: “Don’t worry … I will never quit.”
After a rocky first day, Po begins his training by sparing with all of the members of the Furious Five for the first time.
With each member he spars with, Po is defeated in a matter of seconds … but he gestures to thank them for their time + effort, as well as his willingness to keep going. Frankly, he seems like he’s having a lot of fun getting his butt kicked.
Finally, Po spars with Shifu, who takes out some of his frustrations on Po:
S: “The true path to victory is to find your opponent’s weakness and make him suffer for it; to take his strength and use it against him until he finally falls or quits.”
P: “But a real warrior never quits. Don’t worry, Master, I will never quit!”
What’s the lesson for entrepreneurs?
Being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest, most immersive self-improvement programs you never knew you signed up for.
Every quirk, every hesitation, every limiting belief you have will be brought to the surface and MUST be overcome to keep growing, to have the business you truly want to have (no matter what that looks like).
But never quit.
Or, as the saying goes, “If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.”
There is no shortage of excuses to quit – take it from me, who has chosen to kill 4 businesses in around 10 years.
Even if you find someone doing what you want to do that has more experience, more knowledge, or more success.
Even if the market you chose wasn’t right, or the product your created bombed, learn to pivot, but don’t quit.
You were drawn to being an entrepreneur for a reason, and even if you don’t KNOW what that reason is yet, trust it.
Trust that you became an entrepreneur for a damn good reason, and don’t quit.
Lesson 3: “I’m not a big fat panda. I’m THE big fat panda.”
This is one of my all-time favorite quotes + scenes from this movie.
Toward the end, when Po is fighting the main bad guy named Tai Lung (Ian McShane), they battle each other throughout the now-empty city.
At first, Tai Lung clearly had the upper hand, while Po attempts to keep the Dragon Scroll away from him.
As the fight progresses, Po finds many ways to use his unique awareness (and body) to beat back Tai Lung in non-traditional ways.
Eventually, Tai Lung actually gets a hold of the Dragon Scroll + opens it to find that the scroll has nothing written on it – it’s just a reflective, gold-like piece of paper.
Naturally, Tai Lung is very confused as Po tries to explain what it means.
But Tai Lung is here for power, and it’s clear the Dragon Scroll won’t give that to him (not with the mindset that he is stuck in), so he tries to use an attack that would paralyze Po … but it doesn’t work.
It doesn’t work because Po is a panda + finding the right spot to hit on him is much harder due to his … size. Instead, Po is sent into a laughing fit.
As Po recovers + uses his size to his advantage, Tai Lung is worn down more + more. When Tai Lung comes running at Po full-speed, Po takes a solid stance + launches Tai Lung into the air using his bouncing belly.
Tai Lung comes crashing back down to the earth, making a huge crater in the ground.
As Tai Lung wearily crawls out of the crater:
Tai Lung – “You … can’t defeat me. You … you’re just a big … fat … panda.”
Po – “I’m not a big fat panda. I’m THE big fat panda.”
And then … Po defeats Tai Lung.
What’s the lesson for entrepreneurs?
Let your freak flag fly!
No matter what industry you’re in: your past, your favorites, your personality is where your power lies – it’s what sets you apart from everyone else.
Worried about alienating people? That’s what you WANT to do!
Draw a clear line in the sand so people know if you’re the right person to help them or not.
Especially if there’s something about yourself that you’re ashamed of – don’t hide it, own it! Don’t let anyone else use it to hold power over you.
Be THE big fat (entrepreneur) panda 🙂
Got an idea for what movie I should write about next?
Send me a message with your favorite scene from the movie + I’ll check it out!