Articles Tagged with: Mindset

A Martial Mindset



This is not a promotion for a martial arts course. Instead, I’d like to discuss a principle found in Chinese martial arts that can be applied to any creative pursuit. I learned this lesson while studying martial arts while living abroad.

From the time I was a kid, Bruce Lee was one of my role models. I was fascinated by the idea of becoming a great martial artist, so when I discovered a school that taught Lee’s original martial art (Wing Tsun).

I signed up immediately.

I studied it for around seven years, half in Denmark and half in the United States. However, it wasn’t until I took one of my instructor’s meditation courses that I learned what Kung Fu really meant.


Initially, I had no interest in learning how to meditate – especially since it required an additional fee. I was able to afford the martial arts lessons thanks to Denmark’s social policy of giving students a monthly stipend starting at the age of 18. However, my instructor Henning urged me to take it. He said it would help me learn how to be calm and peaceful in any situation.

Reluctantly, I agreed, and attended all the meditation classes over the weekend. I learned breathing techniques and how to meditate according to Indian tradition since Henning was of Indian and Danish descent. On the last day, he told us that we should practice meditation on a daily basis because it was a part of achieving good Kung Fu. Kung Fu wasn’t just tied to the practice of martial arts, but rather it meant dedicating oneself to years of mastering a practice. This lesson stuck with me, and I tried to apply it to my career as a filmmaker.


Achieving good Kung Fu means being dedicated to your craft for the long term, which is antithetical to our instant gratification world. This helped me not to get too hung up on the result of a particular film but to focus all my energy on it, reflect on the results, and use that to become even better at my chosen craft. I applied this same way of thinking to other areas of life, some of which are artistic, and others not.

While martial arts isn’t for everyone, each of us can and should strive to achieve mastery in at least one area of life. Engage in the practice with the idea of continued effort, focus, and long-term growth. For a few years, I forgot about this concept, which caused me to make short-term decisions that were not helpful to my long-term goals. Coming back to it has helped me cultivate the growth mindset that we hear talked about, where each accomplishment builds into a greater good.

Conclusion: In conclusion, studying martial arts taught me a valuable lesson: that achieving good Kung Fu means dedicating oneself to the long-term mastery of a practice. This applies to any area of life, including artistic pursuits. It’s about focusing on continued effort, maintaining discipline, and striving for growth. By applying this way of thinking, we can cultivate a growth mindset that leads to long-term success.

The Lottery Myth

There is a myth every filmmaker was told to believe at the start of our career:

That is we just make the right film. Then Hollywood would come find it. And they would give us the resources in order to make whatever we imagined. Now for some, this might be true. There are people who do indeed make a great film and the door is swung wide open for them. However, that is almost like winning the lottery.

And you can’t build a career on buying bingo tickets.

There is a version of success for every filmmaker who commits themselves to building a body of work. Once you realize that the cavalry isn’t coming. You start to find ways to create your own version of success. For some of us, that might lead to working on big budget films on studio lots and flying all over the world. For others, it might mean having a small but sustainable following that allows us to make the work we find impactful.

The insidious part about the myth is that it makes us waste our most valuable resource – our time. It makes us create with the goal of wishing and waiting. Instead of the goal of creating and connecting. It takes the power away from us. And gives it to someone else who’s in charge of making our dreams come true.

While making a film is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. It doesn’t have to be a soul-burning one. And I’ve found the best way to make films for the right reasons – to tell great stories and create an impact for your audience.

Always A Solution

When I began working as a Production Manager. I was forced to realize something:

There is a solution to every problem. But sometimes its not the one you want.

When we encounter issues in life, we can get stuck in Problem Mode. And that’s because we have a particular solution in mind. We have one way that we want to solve the issue. And we’re stuck trying to force a particular outcome. But once you start looking at other options. Then you realize that you can actually solve the issue that you’re having.

My mother and grandmother used to tell me “There’s no such thing as can’t.” And the smart-ass in me would say things like “well, you can’t fly.” But they were both actually right. There is no such thing as can’t. It’s just a matter of finding the right approach. A lot of times, we already know what the answer is. It’s just something that we don’t want to do. Most of the time out of fear. But sometimes also out of ego – which can also come from fear.

A simple first step is to replace the phrase “I can’t” with the question “How can I?” That shift have you thinking about the different possibilities. Which leads you to solving the problem.