There is no secret ingredient!

One of my all-time favorite movies is the brilliant animated film, Kung Fu Panda, by DreamWorks. It’s 91 minutes of pure awesomeness.

In it, the overweight, clumsy, and kung-fu-less panda bear, Po, is selected to be the chosen Dragon Warrior, who will bring peace to the valley and defeat the dreaded tiger Tai Lung. The final step to becoming the Dragon Warrior is reading the coveted Dragon Scroll, which is said to hold the secret to “limitless power.”

Po, like everyone else, never believed he was the Dragon Warrior. And when he finally opens the scroll, he finds nothing but a shiny surface, almost mockingly reflecting his own image.

Thinking the whole thing is a joke, Po leaves to help the villagers evacuate the valley to avoid Tai Lung, who has escaped from prison and now comes for the Dragon Scroll.

But in the village, Po meets his father, who chooses that moment to share something remarkable. Here is the dialogue:

Po’s Father:

“Po, I think it’s time I told you something I should have told you a long time ago…

“The secret ingredient of my secret ingredient soup…

“The secret ingredient is…

“Nothing.”

Po:

“Huh?”

Father:

“You heard me. Nothing!

“There is no secret ingredient!”

Po:

“Wait, wait, it’s just plain old noodle soup? You don’t add some kind of special sauce or something?”

Father:

“Don’t have to. To make something special, you just have to believe it’s special.”

At that moment, Po realizes the secret to the Dragon Scroll, the secret to limitless power. Belief. Belief in yourself.

Think for a moment about what it is that makes us consider money as valuable. It’s not because there’s any worth intrinsic to the paper on which it is printed. The only reason it has transactional value is because as a society, we believe it’s valuable.

That’s why things that are rare are considered valuable, because people believe they’re special. But consider diamonds. They’re really not rare at all. In fact, there are enough diamonds already found to give every man, woman and child in the United States a handful. They’re not even the most expensive gemstone. The value of a diamond is from a human-imposed restriction on access to the inventory of diamonds available. They’re only special because we believe they are.

Our whole market economy is based on belief. Look at what happens when people stop believing in the value of a company’s stock, or of the stock market itself. The nature of companies don’t change overnight or in the course of an hour. But once we stop believing in a company, the stock, and therefore the value of the company, plummets.

You are no different. You have to believe in yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? After all, you are completely unique, which means inherently you are special and valuable. That realization gives you power, in a very real way.

Realizing this secret to limitless power and energized by that realization, Po then returns to fight Tai Lung. Just before Po defeats him in battle, Tai Lung reads the dragon scroll.

Tai Lung:

“Finally!

“Oh, yes! The power of the dragon scroll is mine!

“It’s… nothing!”

Po:

“It’s okay, I didn’t get it the first time either…

“There is no secret ingredient. It’s just you.”

The key to the Dragon Scroll, the key to accomplishing all that you ever wanted, the key to changing who you are, the key to reaching new heights, the key to limitless personal power… is just believing in yourself.

-Rusty

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