When people talk about Bruce Lee they mostly talk about his amazing skills as a martial artist, how great his movies are or maybe they quote one of his witty philosophical phrases. They may also talk about what a great teacher he was or his influence in their life.
May I suggest we look at one other attribute that Bruce has that we can all learn from. Bruce was an amazing student and I believe that this was a key to his amazing achievements. Every journey has its beginning and its path. Somehow you need to get from point A to point B. I do not believe that Bruce’s achievements were an accident or a lucky break or even his destiny. You may argue that there was something special about Bruce Lee and that very well may be true. But he was not always a great martial artist or philosopher and a movie star. But he was someone with a lot of dreams and aspirations someone who knew where he wanted to go and what he wanted to do.
I have been a martial artist for over 20 years and have followed Bruce Lee and his philosophy for much of that. I’ve had the privilege of meeting several of Bruce Lee’s friends and students. And I’ve had the privilege of studying under some of his students. Everyone I’ve ever talked to that knew him personally had a tremendous amount of respect for him. He was the real deal.
One of the things that has always stood out to me was that he was always learning, studying trying to improve and wanting to be the best. You could never say he was complacent, content or satisfied. Bruce worked hard to become who he was and always working to be better.
I love the quote used in this image absorb what is useful, reject was is useless and add what is essentially your own. This really sums it up. There is no doubt the Bruce Lee had some great teachers and surrounded himself with great people. Bruce had a foundational knowledge of martial arts but there was one thing that stood out. He was always looking for ways to improve himself as a martial artist, Bruce was constantly reading and always questioning what he knew. He did not limit himself by staying within one style, martial arts system or one way of thinking. He was a consummate student when he found something didn’t work he quickly moved past it and looked for something that did making it his own. He also believed that his truth may not necessarily be someone else’s truth meaning everyone’s different we will need to find our own path with our own experiences and knowledge. If you look at Bruce Lee’s students today you won’t find another Bruce Lee he did not teach them to be him, he taught them to be the best self they could be. Not a bunch of Bruce Lee clones but independent thinkers and independent students on their own path.
So in short if you want to find the next level, that better you. The 1st thing you need to focus on is becoming a great student.
Here’s another great quote by Bruce Lee I think is pertinent.
“Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.”
Here is a related blog about that quote. Empty your mind…