As you prepare to battle for your dreams, let Bruce Lee’s principles kick your goals into gear.
Bruce Lee rose to icon status in the 1960’s for ushering in a new generation of interest to the martial arts. He is viewed as a person of laser focus who made “karate” cool through his movies. Behind his public persona was a quest to develop a martial arts system that elevated beyond the status quo of stale practices that did not reflect real world combat. Lee worked tirelessly to develop his brand of martial arts which he called Jeet Kun Do.
You can imagine that someone like Bruce, who wanted to make the world better through his fighting system, had to prioritize his efforts. Balancing his Hollywood big screen projects such as Enter the Dragon, small screen appearances including the television show The Green Hornet, developing his system of fighting, instructing students and writing, among other things. His efforts made a lasting impact with regards to bridging the gaps and perceptions that separated the East from the West at that time.
“The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.” - Bruce Lee
Writing for Time magazine, Joel Stein noted, “With nothing but his hands, feet and a lot of attitude, he turned the little guy into a tough guy.” We know Bruce Lee for what he became, but in 1959 he was an 18 year old Asian kid who traveled from Hong Kong to the United States. Lee was not a likely fit for a future pop culture icon but his drive led him into the limelight. Bruce took the world by storm and his fame was only shortened only by his untimely death at the age of 32.
Stein elaborates on the impact that Mr. Lee made in a broader social context, “He was the redeemer, not only for the Chinese but for all the geeks and dorks and pimpled teenage masses that washed up at the theaters to see his action movies. He was David, with spin-kicks and flying leaps more captivating than any slingshot.”
Bruce approached martial arts with the thoughtfulness of a philosopher. He was intentional in his actions and his intensity brought a brilliance to everything that he did. Lee expressed several key ideas that are helpful to personal and professional development. Our ability to reach our goals has a lot to do with how well we prioritize our efforts.
“Knowing is not enough, we must apply. Willing is not enough, we must do.” - Bruce Lee
Lee wanted Jeet Kun Do to incorporate, “Practicality, flexibility, speed, and efficiency.” Personal development is a paradox. To achieve we must be practical as well as rabidly ambitious. This is best expressed as being led by vision. You should have Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) but to achieve you must break those down into 10 year, 3 year, 1 year, quarterly, monthly and daily goals. Build your confidence by breaking your dreams into goals and get to work.
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.” - Bruce Lee
Bruce was well-read and had an extensive library dominated by martial arts subjects and philosophical texts. Your professional development must be applicable to your vision, this does not mean that you can only study what others in your industry produce. Lee learned from disciplines as broad as fencing and boxing to develop his art. Learn to discern between what is helpful and what is not. Keep making progress in your process.
“It is not a daily increase, but a daily decrease. Hack away at the inessentials.” - Bruce Lee
How often do you have multiple tabs open or too much clutter in your work space? When we realize it is better to have a few things that are completely done than several things that are only partially done, we start to win the battle of prioritization. Author Stephen Covey frames it this way, The key is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Start your day with a plan and work your plan rather than just winging it. Live your life with intentionality.
“Life’s battles don’t always go to the stronger or faster man. But sooner or later the man who wins, is the man who thinks he can.” - Bruce Lee
In her book Unqualified Success, author Rachel Stewart shares personal and practical tips for bridging the gap from where you are today to where you want to be. What is unique about her book is that she walks the reader through portions of her own professional development where she felt unqualified. Rachel came to realize that we all start out unqualified which should be motivating rather than deflating. Cleaning out your thought closet and taking ownership of your thoughts are keys to unlocking your potential.
Your dreams should fear you
Whether your goal is to build something new as an entrepreneur or to improve your organization’s performance as a manager, start by leading yourself. Time is limited so make sure you are using it effectively. Open a can of intentionality by prioritizing your efforts and resources towards making progress on your goals. There are no short-cuts or secret sauce. Every dreamer can be an achiever. Open a can of motivation by remembering this encouragement from Bruce Lee, “The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus.”
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Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a contractor, author, and host of The DYOJO Podcast. The goal of The DYOJO is to help growth-minded restoration professionals shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. You can watch The DYOJO Podcast on YouTube on Thursdays or listen on your favorite podcast platform.