A Tap on the Glass - Vol. 111 - Mind Matters

by Michael Darling

Bruce Lee was an actor, philosopher, film director, producer, screenwriter and martial artist. He was born in November 1940 and died July 1973 from a mysterious brain hemorrhage. A sad and ironic lost to the genre.

It would be hard to argue with the fact that Bruce Lee was one of the most influential martial artists of the 20th century. His films took martial arts to a whole new level and opened up the eyes of many to the “art” of martial arts, including making Chinese martial arts popular in the west.

I was introduced to Lee’s teachings and philosophies while in the service. One of my friends at the time had taken lessons from Lee himself while stationed in China….and I was fascinated with it. Not only with the physical aspects of it, but even more so with the philosophies of Bruce Lee. He still to this day is considered a legend, and his philosophy lives on through his martial art style of Jeet Kune Do as well as his writings.

Bruce Lee. He was this short little guy, who also weighed very little, yet seemed to have the power of a lion. Lee made the Wing Chun style-1 inch punch famous during his exhibitions. He was able to deliver a punch starting 1 inch from his opponent that was 1.7 times more injurious than a car impact at 30mph! He inspired, motivated and showed many that you don’t have to listen to the boundaries people impose. He stated in so many words that “I make my own life, and I decide my faith.”

Well, recently the G4 network did their “movies that don’t suck” marathon on Bruce Lee movies:

  • The Big Boss (1971) (US title:Fists of Fury)
  • Fist of Fury (1972) (US title: The Chinese Connection)
  • Way of the Dragon (1972) (US titles: Return of the Dragon, Revenge of the Dragon)
  • Enter the Dragon (1973)
  • Game of Death (1978)

Then there’s the old Green Hornet TV series when he played Kato and America saw his amazing skill for the first time. There’s also a myriad of titles that he made in China that I can’t spell, let alone pronounce. I sat and watched them, for the umpteenth time. Most certainly not for their story lines, but simply to see Lee display his art as I marveled at his un-matched speed and agility.

Ok..so the point of this is that there were many lessons from Bruce Lee that we can use in our daily lives…and so I went to my old sources and writings and compiled a list of some of the best of them, at least in MY opinion. If you have the chance to read about Lee, do so. I think you’ll find him fascinating.

Here are 11 powerful life lessons from Bruce Lee and my own perceptions of them:

1. Goals

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at.

He’s right of course. Goals serve as a target to aim for, so don’t get yourself too hung up on reaching them. The old adage about enjoying the journey and the process is really true.

If you’re hiking on a nice trail out in the wilderness, your goal is to get to your end destination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the walk, or even change direction. Be open to forks in the road, be flexible. As Robert Frost has said, choosing the road less traveled by can make all the difference.

2. Flexibility

"Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind."

Despite my continuous desire to control every moment of my world as well as those around me, I have to admit that the happiest people in the world are flexible. They do not have rigid beliefs or try to control and manipulate their surroundings to make them happy. Weird, huh?

They are okay with how things are. They accept, they live in the now and they somehow manage to breathe just as well as I do. The lesson here is probably that If you want to have a fulfilling and happy life, be flexible and accept things as they are. If you can do that. This is not an easy lesson for me!

3. Time

If you love life, don't waste time, for time is what life is made up of.”

There’s no time for procrastinating, making excuses and succumbing to your fears. Heaven knows I know it can be hard, but none of us get out of this alive. You will ultimately die, and so why not make the best of your life? Indeed….

Don’t waste time, instead start moving towards your dreams. You will probably fail a few times and make mistakes along the way, so stay humble and stay in the now. But try to have a sense of humor about it all and understand that we all walk our own paths. Don’t try to walk the path of someone else.

4. Service

Real living is living for others.”

The most satisfying way to live is to help and enrich the life of others. These writings I do and the comments I’ve received from them through the years, as well as other projects I work on, help remind me how satisfying it is to assist others.

So, if you can find a way to solve other people’s problems while following your passion, well then, you will have found the ideal way to live, my friend.

5. Acceptance

Take no thought of who is right or wrong or who is better than. Be not for or against.”

Ok..up on my soapbox now:

If we want the earth to become better, we have to let go of the inane judgment, prejudice and rigid beliefs that are so prevalent today. There is no need to be right or wrong, or say that you are better than someone else. No matter how you perceive it….”it is what it is”.

If you don’t like it, go do something else, but stay away from the negative energy, because it never does any good. Not for you and not for anyone else. And frankly, we don’t want to hear it.

6. Single-Mindedness

I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.”

I’ve seen this philosophy used in sales training for 30 years. Focus on one skill, practice it daily. Rinse and repeat until it becomes habit. If you want to get results and master something, you have to stop dabbling and jumping around from thing to thing. Commit to something and follow through. It’s simple to say, but I know it takes effort to do.

Most people quit before any results can appear. They give up too soon. Don’t be one of those people!

7. Creativity

Using no way as way, using no limitation as limitation.”

We all impose our own limitations on ourselves. Even if a guru sitting up on the mountaintop tells you that something is impossible, that doesn’t mean it is. They’re human just like you.

Remember, most great people were told they could never accomplish something, but they went ahead and did it anyway. Listen to yourself and do what excites you.

8. Simplicity

Simplicity is the key to brilliance.”

I’m trying real hard to learn this lesson. Simplify your life and eliminate the unnecessary. Hard to do when we as a society, have been taught to consume and amass as many material possessions as we can. We can’t take it with us, so we try to get as much “stuff” as we can. I have to admit, that I’m getting sick of looking at my “stuff”.
Luckily, I’m starting to realize that this accumulation of “stuff” doesn’t work. Happiness comes from the inside, not from the outside. Simplicity gives you clarity and peace of mind.
Let’s all take a deep breath…..ommmmmmmm.

9. Find Your Path

"Absorb what is useful, Discard what is not, Add what is uniquely your own."

In the beginning of your career or life plan, learn everything you can from someone you look up to, but as you get better and more successful, take what works and discard what doesn’t. That person isn’t YOU, and you have your greatest potential realized when you find your own rhythm and start to dance.

We are all unique, so we have to find our own groove and start listening to ourselves. Listen to your heart for guidance. Where is it trying to pull you?

10. Take Action

"Knowing is not enough, you must apply; willing is not enough, you must do."

I could write these little weekly bits till my fingers fall off, and you can read all the information you want from thousands of sources available, but if you never actually take action, nothing is going to happen. You will almost never have crystal clear clarity, so you will have to work through all the confusion and uncertainty to discover what’s true for YOU.

I know you want a rock-solid guarantee that whatever all this information tells you will make you successful, but in reality, no such thing exists.

You have to start moving in order to get to where you want to be.

11. Ego

"The martial arts are ultimately self-knowledge. A punch or a kick is not to knock the hell out of the guy in front, but to knock the hell out of your ego, your fear, or your hang-ups."

I might argue with Bruce on this one. There has been more than a few times in my life that a punch or a kick to knock the hell out of them seemed VERY appropriate. But I think that what Lee was trying to point out is that everything you do involves your ego. It’s your ego that is afraid of change. It wants you to stay right where things are comfortable, convenient and safe. My ego speaks loud and carries a big stick. But I’m coming to realize that if you’re really listening to your heart, you know whether the path you’re on is right for you.
Lee’s style of Jeet Kune Do redefined the Chinese practice of protecting the secrets and the philosophy of the martial arts, opening up those opportunities to the western world. He was chastised, challenged and hurt many times along the way, but he stayed true to his goal. Again, it’s a fascinating story of the path he took and I recommend it for reading.

Go after your dreams and do so boldly. Accept the fear inside you and use that to keep you moving. Life is meant to be lived, so start living!

I wish you success. Thanks for reading…