Bruce Lee & Sales – Focus on Meaning, Not the Words

Today we’re going to be talking about a concept that is a bit more advanced…

It’s the subject of feeling… as opposed to thinking.

YouTube video

Growing up, my parents had me practice multiplication tables while we were out grocery shopping.

I was probably 7 or 8 years old, and my mom and dad would test me,

“What’s 6×6?”

“What’s 8×9?”

So needless to say, I got pretty good at multiplication. In fact, I got a perfect 800 in both my SAT I and II Math tests.

I know, pretty stereotypical.

So you can tell that I was pretty analytical growing up. I would overthink shit all the time.

In fact, that’s why I got into sales.

I felt like my analytical muscles were overworked and I needed to improve my soft (people) skills.

Over the past 10 years, I’ve been developing my interpersonal, sales & influence skills.

One very important concept I’ve learned – is the concept of feeling as opposed to thinking…

And focusing on meaning, not the words.

Before I go on, let me present you a clip of one of my heroes, Bruce Lee.

YouTube video

From the movie Enter the Dragon

In the clip Bruce tells the young student to feel and not think. Then he tells the student, doing so is like a finger pointing to the moon, and if he focuses on the finger, he’ll “miss all that heavenly glory.”

This is incredibly profound and it’s the same in sales.

I’ll explain…

Words can have a lot lot of different meanings…

The same words can have a whole lot of different meanings…

For example:

The word “dope.”

Meaning #1: Drugs

Meaning #2: Something that is very cool

Two very different meanings.

Another example:

The word “monitor

Meaning #1: To observe or look over something

Meaning #2: A screen used as a computer display

Meaning #3: Speakers used in studio recording equipment

The point is that when we speak we all use different words to describe different experiences.

And this can be incredibly confusing and often we might not be truly understanding what are prospects are talking about.

Take another example,

If you ask somebody how they’re doing, and they reply, “Good.”

Depending on their tone and body language, that “good” can mean any number of things:

“I’m doing pretty good!”

“I’m just okay – things aren’t really great”

“I feel like complete shit. My life is a mess”

So just like the finger pointing to the moon, do not focus on the words. Focus on the meaning behind the words…

That is the “heavenly glory” Bruce is referring to.

To understand that, you have to feel not think.

Feel what your prospect is saying.

Feel the pain points and frustrations they are alluding to but might be too scared to tell you outright.

Feel using your intuition..


Another way to help you focus on the meaning instead of the words is asking for clarification.

If you don’t understand exactly what your prospect is saying…

Ask something like, “I’m curious, what do you mean by that?”

That not only helps to clarify what your prospect is saying, but also shows that you’re really listening.

And that helps to build trust, and rapport.

This is especially important when selling in industries that have a lot of jargon or industry specific terms.

For example, selling into IT, or Procurement, or Marketing…

Every niche has their own lingo.

When you don’t understand, ask for clarification.


I hope you guys found this post helpful, and remember…

“Don’t focus on the finger, or you’ll miss all that heavenly glory.”

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Comments (2)

Super well-written. I’m going to try it!!

Great John, let me know your feedback and if you’d like to see a post on a particular topic. Cheers!

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