#86 Core Values at Work: Part 3

#86 Core Values at Work: Part 3

In our final Core Values at Work Episode Shannon and Sharon discuss Relationship, Communication, and Trust.

These Core Values are derived from Bruce Lee’s philosophies and Shannon has adjusted them for her workplace. Shannon has put together these Core Values based on how her workplace functions best, incorporating the philosophy and essence of her father, including what was important to him and what is important to Shannon.

For many of us, work is where we spend most of our time. It is important to have values in the workplace, even if you work for yourself or a small company.

Shannon carries her values and principles through all aspects her life. She likes to be able to show up at work as she would be at home, with an integrated principle of being able to be herself and continue to work on what is important to her as a human being no matter where she is.

It is a good thing to know what your values are. Are your values different in your personal life than at work? How can you make those values more integrated?


Be in relationship. You are not working or living in a bubble. You are part of a team, part of an environment. Relate actively to your work, to your coworkers, to yourself. Treat others with respect. Take care of your side of the relationship. Have care for the humans around you and the human who makes this all possible – Bruce Lee.

Bruce Lee always said life is about relating; relating to, learning from, and growing within your environment and people you’re in relationship with.

If you are paying attention and actively willing to engage with people and everything outside of yourself, you will learn about yourself, what is important to you, and how you want to move through the world.

Something we found at the Bruce Lee Family Company is that even though we are a small company, each member of the team was working in isolation. People would work on their specific job without relating with the rest of the team. We created a better ecosystem by working on how each team member could help each other and contribute to other aspects of the company.

At the Bruce Lee Family Company, many of us are friends and even family. Therefore, we have to be willing to be in relationship in a respectful, engaged, and communicative way to preserve our existing relationships with each other.

People tend to say not to work with your friends and your family because it can destroy your relationships. This is only if you separate how you treat your coworkers and your family and friends. The truth is that you are in relationship with your coworkers because you work with them every day. You do not have to be “best friends” with everyone you work with, but since you are in relationship with them you have to pay them a certain level of respect, even in just how you approach and communicate with them.

Sometimes workplaces can be hierarchical and isolating, so it’s important to remember that your coworkers are people too. You are with your coworkers every single day, and no matter their job, you are in relationship with them.

We all started at the bottom, and we remember the people who were jerks to us. We also remember the people who were kind and respectful. Everyone deserves to be treated with a basic level of respect no matter their position in the company.


Communicate clearly and openly. No one knows what you need. No one knows how you feel. No one knows what you know or don’t know. If you need help, ask. Don’t wait to be communicated to. Be proactive and straightforward with communication.

This Core Value is specific to Shannon and the Bruce Lee Family Company. She found that people were waiting to be communicated to because they did not want to bother her since she is very busy. Instead they would wait for Shannon to come to them to explain things. This resulted in projects getting stalled when someone did not know what to do and they would not ask how to do it.

There were a few times where it got to the point where Shannon would wonder why someone was not doing their job or not doing what she had asked them to do. It was because they did not know what to do and were afraid to ask for guidance.

Shannon does not expect everyone to know how to do everything, but she does expect people to ask for help and to do research in order to move forward with a project.

There are some workplaces where this value of communication is discouraged. Where if you ask for help or admit you do not know how to do something it is a mark against you and can be detrimental to your position. This can make you fearful to ever ask for help. However, not every place is like that so it is important to leave that fear behind when you move to a new job.

Know that people cannot read your mind and you have to ask for what you need. Practice asking for what you need before it gets to a point of anger or frustration for you. Usually there is at least one person you can reach out to ask for help no matter where you work.

You do have a personal responsibility to figure your job out and to try your best to do the task you are being asked to do. There is a fine balance between trying to figure things out on your own to not being able to and not doing your job. It shows good initiative at that point to seek out help when you are stuck instead of stalling on the project.

The way that you communicate and the tone that you use matters when asking for help. If you are frustrated, it helps to get to a neutral or curious place before seeking out help from someone. It is hard to hear the communication when it is loaded with anger or frustration.

It is challenging to have challenging conversations. You can say almost anything that needs to be said if you say it with kindness. Shannon is transparent with what is going on with the company with her employees and over the years has had to let some people go. Since she is transparent about the company ventures, what is succeeding and what is struggling, whenever a change is needed it is rarely a surprise for the employees. Firing someone is never easy, but since Shannon is able to communicate with kindness the conversation is easier for both parties.

Just as bosses should think of their employees as people, and we should remember that our bosses are people too.

Observe who you are in relationship with, and know that their reactions might have nothing to do with you. If someone is speaking heatedly to you, be curious and ask, “Are you upset with me or just upset?” It’s possible the person is just tired or upset about something unrelated to you and it is affecting their communication with you.

We can sense when things are not quite right. If you walk into a room you can sense the energy of the people and whether it is a good or bad energy. This is helpful in a work environment since you can read the room and decide how to communicate accordingly.


Trust yourself. Trust your instincts. Trust your skills. Trust your ability to learn. Trust your coworkers. Trust your leadership. Trust Shannon. Trust Bruce. Have faith that we are in a process together. You don’t need to trust blindly - communicate and question from a place of centered curiosity and relationship.

This is an important Core Value to Shannon and one that she has been working on personally as well as at work.

When you first start working with someone, they can be inclined to check in with you often to make sure that they are doing the job correctly. However, at some point the person has to start trusting in themselves that they know how to their job or trust that they will be able to figure it out. For Shannon, she has to trust that her employees will do their jobs and move forward with projects. If people are constantly checking in with her for assurance that makes her wonder if she can continue to trust that they’re doing their jobs.

Even if you don’t have a boss like Shannon: trust yourself, trust your instincts, and trust your skills. If you’re in a bad situation, if you trust yourself you can work to the highest of your ability until you’re ready to move on.

This is about having a positive attitude mindset. Focus on the positive instead of the negative, even though as humans we tend to focus on what is wrong instead of what is right. You got this job, so somebody believed enough in you to give you this chance. That should give you a boost; someone believed in you so you should believe in yourself. If you trust in yourself, are in relationship, and communicate, then you will grow.

It can be hard to be positive if you’re in a company where you don’t trust your leadership. But by trusting yourself, you will trust that you will figure out how to be in your environment, or you can trust that you’ll know when to move on.

If you are in an environment where you cannot trust your leadership and it is causing you to constantly be in a negative loop inside and outside of work, start practicing these other core values. Be curious about what is going on and why, maybe there is a way to put forth your best effort in another way, or maybe it is time to move on from that job. Sometimes we get stuck, and tell ourselves the same negative work narrative repeatedly, and this does not make us feel better or do better.

Practice trusting yourself in small ways. Trust that you remembered to turn off the light before leaving. Don’t second-guess your ideas or feelings you have. Just decide that you’re going to believe in yourself, as impossible as that might seem.

Shannon and Sharon decided to talk about these Core Values at Work because many of us feel helpless and out of control at work. This helpless feeling can stem from the fact that we are not in power, we are not making decisions, or in control of the finances. With reframing Bruce Lee’s philosophy into these Core Values at work, it is to help us realize that we are in control of our own experience and to let go of that idea of powerlessness.

You are in control of how you show up in your life. No one’s job is 100% guaranteed since there can be major shifts or changes that are out of our control. Even if you are not secure in your job, you can be secure in how you show up in your life.

Life is a co-creation, whether you recognize it or not you are constantly co-creating with those around you and your environment.

Life can be a struggle so remember to have fun! Fun and play were integral to Bruce Lee’s life and Shannon incorporates fun into her work and life.

Go out and have fun co-creating, be in relationship, embrace communication, and trust in yourself!

What are your work values? We would love to hear from you about what values at work that you really appreciate, enjoy, and that work for you. Email us at hello@brucelee.com or tag us @brucelee on social media with #bruceleepodcast and tell us about your work values!

We are experimenting with the formatting for the podcast so we do not have an #AAHA or #BruceLeeMoment this week, but we would still love to hear from you!

We get many emails requesting advice with “What would Bruce Lee do?” and would like to start a “What would Bruce Lee do?” section of the podcast where Shannon and Sharon respond to your emails for advice. If you need advice and are wondering, “What would Bruce Lee do?” write to us at hello@brucelee.com


The Bruce Lee Podcast is now on Nerdist.com.