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'No Way as Way' in the World of Innovation


Bruce Lee and Steve Jobs are both considered innovators, and rightfully so. Both were trailblazers in their respective fields. Both had a vision to move forward, a faith that turned their dreams into reality, and a determination that broke through barriers and obstacles. Lee didn’t invent martial arts, but he revolutionized it. He broke down centuries of tradition and changed the way people viewed martial arts and martial art training. Lee didn’t invent martial art films, but his innovative ideas and creativity created a whole new genre of action films.


While Steve Jobs did not invent such things computer science, broadband, wireless telephony, or recorded music and entertainment, he was the ultimate catalyst for these technologies. Jobs didn’t invent the personal computer or the MP3 player, yet he innovated around those devices and gave the world the Mac and the iPod. He didn’t invent smartphones or the tablet computer, yet he innovated around those devices and gave us the iPhone and the IPad.


Both Bruce Lee and Steve Jobs were pioneers who changed the world in some fashion. Both men, to use Jobs own vernacular, “put a dent in the universe.”


The world of innovation offers a shining example of the necessity of “using no way as way.” When it comes to innovation, there are no fixed rules or templates. The core of innovation is a dynamic way of thinking, seeing, and acting, which requires open-mindedness, fluidity, and adaptability. To innovate, a person (or company) has to remove restrictions and be willing to try different approaches, experiment, toss things out or add them, and come at things from various angles. Innovators need to not only be able to “think outside the box,” but to completely “shatter the box” if necessary. And they won’t be able to do that if they’re limited or bound by set ways. It will be difficult, if not impossible for a person to be creative and innovative if they are confined by a set way of thinking or a set way of doing something.


Set ways can create self-limiting beliefs which can confine, restrict, or even imprison you. They can inhibit your freedom and squelch creativity. Ways offer “selective” security and in some cases, they can serve as a “crutch,” which, will offering comfort will limit or block growth and change. Set ways create boundaries and people can often become trapped within those boundaries. In the arena of innovation, strict observance to any particular methodology can inhibit intuition, represses individuality, and close people’s minds rather than opening them. In his martial art notes concerning “ways” and “systems” Bruce Lee wrote, “When there is a “way”, therein lies the limitation.”


Applying the principle of “using no way as way” can help you avoid narrow-minded restrictions, be it with regard to a way of doing something, a way of thinking about something, or a way of perceiving something. It will allow you to be creative and give you the freedom to draw from and use anything and everything around you. You can add, subtract, do whatever you need or want to do. In the course of innovating, if a particular way of doing something is not working, you can simply switch to another. If a particular mode of thinking is not helping you or is restricting you, you can change to one that does.

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