Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Ip Man 4: The Finale

A Reel Leadership Article

I’ve seen lots of talk about the Ip Man movies. People tend to rave about them. I didn’t know what the raving was all about. Now I do.

I recently had the pleasure of watching Ip Man 4: The Finale. Ip (Pronounced like the IP in chip, not like I.P.) Man 4 tells the finale story of Wing Chung master Ip Man (Donnie Yen).

Donnie Yen as Ip Man in Ip Man 4: The Finale. Pointing finger.

The story is interesting. After the loss of his wife, Ip Man learns he has cancer. He travels to San Francisco to get a recommendation for his son to attend school there.

While trying to get the recommendation, he visits his star pupil, Bruce Lee (Danny Kwok-Kwan Chan). Yes, THE Bruce Lee. He helps to calm the tensions between Bruce Lee and the local martial arts community. Why? Because Bruce Lee is teaching non-Chinese Wing Chung.

This sets the basis of Ip Man 4: The Finale. It’s a fun ride. One that teaches a bit of history along with plenty of leadership lessons.

Pick up your copy of Ip Man 4: The Finale on Amazon.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Ip Man 4: The Finale

1. New leaders are excited to meet experienced leaders:

Billy (Simon Shiyamba) is a pupil of Bruce Lee. He travels to invite Ip Man to visit Bruce Lee’s new martial arts school.

You could see the excitement dripping off of Billy. He was stoked to meet his master’s master. It was a thing of honor to meet the man who trained someone he looked up to.

You have the opportunity to be the Ip Man of your team’s Billy. What do I mean by this?

Being a great leader means you create other leaders. Those leaders create new leaders. If those new leaders meet you, you’re their Ip Man. You’re the one who helped train their leaders to be great.

Be a leader who focused on creating new leaders who create new leaders. And those new leaders will be excited to meet you, the experienced leader.

2. It’s okay to turn down an opportunity:

Ip Man received Bruce Lee’s invitation to visit his school. However, Ip Man turned down the opportunity.

He told Billy he didn’t have the time to visit. He had pressing matters to deal with.

Many people would be shocked to see a leader turn down an opportunity to do something amazing. Great leaders know they have to be willing to turn down opportunities.

You cannot be an effective leader and say yes to everything. There are going to be opportunities where you have to say no. You cannot be everywhere all of the time.

Learn to say no. Learn how to turn down opportunities.

3. It’s okay for leaders to change their mind:

Ip Man originally turned down the offer to visit San Francisco and Bruce Lee. His time was filled. Still, he chose to change his mind.

The change came from his son Ip Ching’s (He Ye) constant fighting in school. Ip Man wanted his son to get an education and the only way he could see this happening was for him to go to America and attend a prestigious school.

You may believe leaders are steadfast, resolute, never-changing in their decisions. However, leaders are always willing to change their minds.

When new information is received, they reevaluate their old decisions. They see if the new information provides enough reason to change. If it does, they change direction.

Be willing to change your mind if new information arises or the situation changes.

4. Bob (Kent Cheng):

Don’t be too soft on your son.

Bob was a friend of Ip Man. Ip Man had asked Bob to come and watch Ip Ching while he was visiting San Francisco.

Bob was dissatisfied with the way Ip Ching treated Ip Man. Ip Ching’s actions were disrespectful and hurtful. You could see the anger and resentment building in the young Ip Ching.

Bob called Ip Man on the carpet. He told Ip Man he shouldn’t be too soft on Ip Ching. Ip Ching needed direction and guidance. Being too soft could lead to disaster.

Leaders, we’re called to be strong and firm and loving to those we lead. We need to be soft, we also need to be firm.

Don’t be too lax with your team members. Be gentle but be firm. Let them know what you expect. Then hold them to it.

5. Ip Man:

What’s wrong with teaching non-Chinese?

When Ip Man arrived in San Francisco, he received a cold greeting from the other martial arts masters. They were frustrated with Ip Man because of Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee had chosen to teach everyone who wanted to learn the art of Wing Chung. He didn’t discriminate. He let everyone come.

When Ip Man heard why the masters had an issue with him, he asked them what was wrong with teaching non-Chinese. He didn’t see this as a problem. He saw it as an honor.

By teaching non-Chinese the art of Wing Ching, new people were being exposed to the martial arts. They were learning Chinese history and growing. This should have been a good thing.

We can take something away from Ip Man’s openness to teaching differing students. We need to be willing to check our prejudices at the door and lead those who come to us.

Black, white, yellow, red, etc… The color of someone’s skin. Their nationality. It shouldn’t matter.

If they’re willing to listen, be willing to teach them.

6. Give respect to others:

Bruce Lee was challenged to fight. He was attacked by multiple people. Then came a big man in blue.

This man brought nunchucks to the fight. Bruce Lee disarmed him and used those nunchucks against him. He then handily beat the man in blue.

After the street fight, the man in blue gave a thumbs up to Bruce Lee. I saw this as a sign of respect.

There are going to be others working with you, under you, and above you. Each of these people deserve your respect.

Be willing to show respect to those you lead and serve.

7. Cheerleading Coach (Hannah Templeton-Cox):

We all have the same goals. Why don’t we try to work together?

Becky (Grace Englert) became upset when Wan Yonah (Vanda Margraf) was given the head cheerleader position. She went into a tirade and made a fool of herself.

Their cheerleading coach saw the seen Becky was making. She tried to make the students realize the true purpose of what they were doing. It was a purpose they should have all been working toward together.

Our teams can become fractured like Becky and Yonah’s friends on the cheerleading team did. They lost sight of the goal.

The teams we lead can do the same thing… Especially when we begin to pit them against each other in sales competitions or productivity challenges.

Remember, we’re all working toward the same goals. Play on the same team.

8. Bad leaders can destroy their own organization:

Ip Man dropped off Yonah to her father, Wan Zong Hua (Yue Wu), at the Chinese Benevolent Association center. There, Wan challenged Ip Man to a fight.

You see a masterful expression of the Chinese martial arts as the two battle it out. You also see a leader so upset, so angry over things he felt were wrong that he began to destroy important things.

As the pair fought, many of the relics and furniture in the CBA were destroyed. Tables, chairs, vases… All destroyed because Wan wanted to prove something.

We have to be careful as we lead. We have to make sure we’re not leading and leaving a path of destruction.

It’s easy to do because we are so laser-focused on the task at hand, what needs to be done, or finding the next best thing that we don’t see the damage we’re causing.

Be cautious as you lead. Don’t leave a path of destruction in your wake.

9. Ip Man:

Winning… Or losing… Does it really matter?

Ip Man had a great question. He asked what does it really matter.

This is a great question for leaders to ask. We can ask ourselves whether winning or losing really matters.

In some aspects of life, yes… It does matter. These are the important things. These are your family, your integrity, your faith, the way you lead.

In other aspects, no… It winning and losing doesn’t matter. These are the way things are done (as long as it is ethical), the unwarranted opinions of others, etc…

Make sure you know where winning and losing matters.

10. Stop doing the things that hurt you:

At the beginning of Ip Man 4: The Finale, Ip Man is visiting a doctor. The doctor tells him he has cancer. And he needs to stop smoking.

You don’t see Ip Man smoking again until later in the movie. It leads you to believe he’s never stopped smoking. He never stopped doing the thing that was killing him.

Ip Man eventually succumbs to the cancer. Something that could have been slowed down if he would have taken the doctor’s advice and stopped doing the thing that was hurting him.

What are you doing that is hurting you? Are you refusing to have a council of wise men around you? Do you choose to make decisions without consulting the team on the floor?

We hurt because we don’t do the things we should. We choose to do the things that go against common sense and figure we’ll make it out anyway.

Let’s stop doing that. Let’s start doing the things that will help us.

11. Ip Man:

I am a martial artist. In the face of injustice, I must stand up and fight. That was why we took up martial arts.

Ip Man knew he had a responsibility with the martial arts knowledge he obtained. He knew he needed to use it to stand up to injustice.

He couldn’t sit by idly as bad things were done. Instead, he chose to stand up and speak up over the injustices he seen in the world.

Leaders, we get this great responsibility as well. We get to stand up against injustice.

Use the power you’ve been given for good. Use it to help those who are less fortunate or abused.

You can make the world a better place. You need to make the world a better place.

12. Leaders have more to give than they think:

Ip Man was challenged by Barton Geddes (Scott Adkins) to a fight. Geddes was a gunnery sergeant in the Marines. He also believed Chinese martial arts was ineffective.

To be honest, it looked that way. Geddes had wiped the floors with the masters of the Chinese Benevolent Association. He was also making Ip Man look bad.

Then something changed. As Ip Man was on the floor, broken and bloodied, he found a renewed strength. He had more to give.

He was soon up and fighting again.

Soon, the fight was over. Ip Man stood victorious. He had more to give than he thought.

You are like Ip Man. You have more to give.

We can feel like we’re at the end of our rope. We can feel like there’s no more gas in the tank. Let me tell you, when it is time, you will have more to give.

Keep giving. Give when it hurts. Eventually, you will win.

13. Ip Man:

Self-confidence is the most important thing, no matter where you are.

Ip Man knew a truth. He knew self-confidence can get you far. If you have confidence in your abilities, you can keep going.

Look at your past experiences. See the great things you’ve accomplished. You can draw a deep self-confidence from your past victories.

I’m learning this as I am attending Toastmasters meetings.

Public speaking is something that has terrified me for as long as I can remember. However, I am finding self-confidence through small wins by giving short speeches to the audience.

Each speech is a win. Each speech gives me more confidence.

Whatever you need confidence in, find ways to build wins. Each win will give you more confidence.

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