Watch a clip of the late, great Bruce Lee delivering his famous one-inch punch and you’ll see him knock a martial artist off his feet with minimal effort. And if Lee draws it back into a whopping six-inch punch? The guy flies back several yards.

Just see what I mean.

How do you think he did it? Strength? That’s what most people say, and it’s the same dismissive explanation most people give for why great salespeople or marketers close more business: they have charisma, intuition, or are lucky. But this reasoning is dead wrong.

The secret to sales, marketing, and martial arts is much more complicated than that.

It all starts with a growth mindset

According to Angela Duckworth, a psychology professor and author of Grit, there are two types of people in this world: those with a growth mindset and those with a fixed. People with a fixed mindset think success is predetermined by natural ability. People with a growth mindset believe success is an outcome of hard work. Nothing is more predictive of long-term success than having a growth mindset.

Let’s return to our Bruce Lee analogy. Was he exceptionally strong? Absolutely. But to call that his only advantage would be to entirely miss the real explanation for his deadly punch. In a 2012 study of karate fighters, researchers found that strength was not deterministic of punching power. Something else was, and with a slow-motion camera, they discovered it.

Lee’s deceptively short punch is actually a long series of coordinated movements. Watch it again in slow-motion and you’ll see.

It starts with Lee’s legs. As each movement reaches peak acceleration, it sets off the next movement, like series of firecrackers. His back leg explodes and snaps straight, turning his hips. Power quivers through his body to his striking shoulder—his elbow extends—his wrist flicks—impact. Lee’s one-inch punch concentrates some of the biggest muscles in his body into just his fist.

Lee figured out how to do this through a lifetime of training, testing, and perfecting his technique, driven by a conviction that through effort, he could master moves that nobody is born with. It was his brain, not natural brawn, that powered his punch.

So why are we telling you all this? Because you can use this principle to master sales and marketing.

Give it a whole-body punch

If we adopt a growth mindset, we’re forced to look at the top salespeople and marketers very differently. When we watch their effortless sales or genius lead-gen campaigns in slow-motion, what’s really happening?

For salespeople, we see a Bruce Lee-like symphony of motion. The effortless final customer signature really started years earlier with a voracious appetite for psychology books, persuasion, and technology. They honed their ability to establish instant rapport and used inbox-busting and personality-broadcasting tools like video which gave them so much momentum that by the time it got to negotiations, all an observer could see was a one-inch punch and the prospect saying, “Yes!”

For marketers, the campaign with the unbelievable conversions actually began many years and several roles prior, with a keen love of storytelling and a hard-won empathy for seeing the world through others’ eyes. They came to understand the elements of persuasion well enough to launch campaigns with such accurate cocktails of ideal customer personas, creative, and delivery systems, that they’re all over in the blink of an eye.

Both the top salesperson and the top marketer got to where they are through a steady growth mindset, and so can you. And as Bruce Lee put it:

The successful warrior is the average [woman or] man, with laser-like focus.

This November we hosted Fast Forward —Vidyard’s premiere virtual summit for perfecting the sales and marketing arts. All the sessions are now available on-demand to make sure you get to hear from the martial masters of sales and marketing. You’ll soak up some of the world’s greatest advice from top thought leaders and learn to turn those final inches into devastatingly powerful full-body punches.

Watch the martial masters of sales and marketing from Fast Forward

Chris Gillespie