Over the weekend I was channel surfing and came across the closing fight scene in Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. My son appeared out of nowhere and stood directly between me and the television. He was mesmerized and began begging me to let him watch the rest of the movie. While we watched, I told him everything I knew of Bruce Lee’s life.
I’m glad he saw it but I’m also sort of beginning to regret it….
Every day since, my son has attacked me as soon as I arrive at home each day.
He’s constantly jumping from the shadows trying to surprise me like Cato from one of the Pink Panther movies from the 1970’s.
To say that Bruce Lee made an impression on my young son would be an understatement.
Seeing my son’s interest in Bruce Lee made me want to learn more about him.
And this is the part I do not regret.
Most people are familiar with Bruce Lee through his film career and martial arts achievements. I too, was familiar with the highlights of his life, but upon further investigation, I found that he lived a very rich life, even though it was cut short. His words contained many tidbits of advice that we all could benefit from.
What I learned was both inspiring and motivational
Bruce Lee was born in the United States, but his family came from Hong Kong. He lived in both countries at various times throughout his life and studied at least ten different styles of martial arts, becoming a master martial artist. He was most widely known in the martial arts community for founding his own branch, named Jeet Kune Do, and counted Chuck Norris and Kareem Addul-Jabbar as students.
Lee’s big break in movies came when he was signed to the starring role of Enter the Dragon. However, just six days before the movie’s release, Lee died under controversial circumstances at the age of 32.
Enter the Dragon became one of the year’s highest grossing films and cemented Bruce Lee as a martial arts legend. The movie then went on to gross over $200 million worldwide — and this was in the 1970s. The film sparked a new interest in martial arts, as evidenced in songs such as “Kung Fu Fighting” and television shows like Kung Fu.
Lee is widely considered the most influential martial artist of all time, and a pop culture icon. His success created new categories in both film and martial arts and changed the way Asians were portrayed in western cinema and television.
Not Your Average Life
For such a short life, Bruce Lee left quite a legacy, making history in the martial arts and in Hollywood. It’s interesting to see what he was thinking during those times, so I’ve pulled together some of his best quotes and then given my interpretation of them for use in your daily life.
I’ve selected my favorites among his many quotes.
This first quote is so appropriate, considering the shortness of his life. Really though, when you realize we’re only here for a few decades, it’s short for all of us:
Don’t be afraid to pursue your real goals. Our time here is short, and living a fulfilling life is a better reward than anything else.
Lesson: Life Is Short – Pursue Your Passions
“There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”
In order to be successful, you must constantly challenge yourself and set new goals. In order to overcome obstacles in life you must be determined enough to keep going no matter what.
Lesson: Keep Pushing Yourself
“Choose the positive. — You have choice — you are master of your attitude — choose the POSITIVE, the CONSTRUCTIVE. Optimism is a faith that leads to success.”
Be as optimistic as possible and you’ll find you can do more than you thought you could.
Lesson: Stay Positive
“In life, what more can you ask for than to be real? To fulfill one’s potential instead of wasting energy on [attempting to] actualize one’s dissipating image, which is not real and an expenditure of one’s vital energy. We have great work ahead of us, and it needs devotion and much, much energy. To grow, to discover, we need involvement, which is something I experience every day — sometimes good, sometimes frustrating. No matter what, you must let your inner light guide you out of the darkness.”
All of us must put effort into overcoming negative the images in our heads. Those images are often false and only serve to tear us down.
“You must have complete determination. The worst opponent you can come across is one whose aim has become an obsession. For instance, if a man has decided that he is going to bite off your nose no matter what happens to him in the process, the chances are he will succeed in doing it. He may be severely beaten up, too, but that will not stop him from carrying out his objective. That is the real fighter.”
Determination is a crucial skill on the road to success. Be the guy who is determined to succeed even if severely beaten up by the process.
Lesson: Cultivate Determination
“There is no such thing as maturity. There is instead an ever-evolving process of maturing. Because when there is a maturity, there is a conclusion and a cessation. That’s the end. That’s when the coffin is closed.”
A rich life is one that is constantly open to new information and experiences. Once you cut yourself off to growth, you may as well be dead.
Lesson: Always Keep Growing
“Faith makes it possible to achieve that which man’s mind can conceive and believe. Even today, I dare not say that I have reached a state of achievement. I’m still learning, for learning is boundless.”
In order to stay successful, one must always challenge themselves.
Lesson: Never Stop Educating Yourself
“We all have time to spend or waste, and it is our decision what to do with it. But once passed, it is gone forever.”
The time we have on this earth is limited, and each of us should want to make the most of it. We can achieve great things if we seize the day and jump in.
“What is, is more important than what should be.”
It is critical to accept reality in order to move on. If you obsess over what you should have done, you only waste time that could be used to find solutions.
Lesson: Live In The Moment
Most people who are effective in life are those who “walk the walk.”
Lesson: Be The Best Version Of Yourself
“Don’t fear failure. — Not failure, but low aim, is the crime. In great attempts it is glorious even to fail.”
Failures are inevitable when trying new things. Failures are not permanent however, and failures should encourage you, because they show you what doesn’t work so that you can move on to finding what does work.
Lesson: Failures Are Steps To Success
You must keep challenging yourself and moving forward to truly reach your full potential.
Lesson: Always Move Forward
“Life is wide, limitless. There is no border, no frontier.”
Societal stigmas or popular opinions only have power in your life if you allow them to. Everyone deserves to have a chance to explore and discover what makes them happy.
Lesson: There Are No Limits
“The meaning of life is that it is to be lived, and it is not to be traded and conceptualized and squeezed into a pattern of systems.”
If you don’t fit into other peoples’ expectations, don’t be afraid. You can still go after things that make you feel truly alive.
Lesson: Life Should Be Enjoyed
“Life itself is your teacher, and you are in a state of constant learning.”
Always try to learn from your experiences in life.
Lesson: Reflect On Your Experiences
“Balance your thoughts with action. — If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”
We need goals to achieve anything; however thinking about an idea too long prevents us from taking time to achieve it. Don’t suffer from paralysis of analysis.
Lesson: Be Proactive
“Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves.”
Sometimes the path to where you want to go isn’t the way you imagined it. However, if you remain flexible, you will always be able to move towards your goal.
Lesson: Be Flexible
“The change is from inner to outer. — We start by dissolving our attitude not by altering outer conditions.”
Change starts from the inside, and we must utterly believe we can do something before we do it.
Lesson: Change Starts On The Inside
“Pessimism blunts the tools you need to succeed.”
Approaching life in a negative light makes it easy to walk away from challenges.
Lesson: Negativity Is Toxic
“All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.”
Rules and regulations stifle creativity by telling you what you cannot do. Don’t focus on the things you cannot do. Focus on what’s possible. If something is right, even if it goes against conventional wisdom, you must fight for it.
Lesson: Don’t Be Constrained By Convention
Forget the past. The past is not worth worrying over. The only way to change the past is to do better today.
Lesson: Have The Courage To Change
Which of the quotes did you most identify with and why? Tell me about it below.