Finding Greatness
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Finding Greatness

5 Life lessons from Bruce Lee

These 5 lessons will boost your life. Bruce Lee is a genius. You can learn a lot from him.

His life was — to put it mildly — extraordinary. The 5 lessons he drew from it are life lessons that everyone should know and can apply immediately. You don’t have to be a fighting king or film star to learn them.

Because that is what he was, as you probably already knew. A martial arts great. His films became even bigger. First in China, where they are still unsurpassed in terms of success, and later in America and the rest of the world.

What you probably didn’t know about Bruce Lee is that he was a gifted cha cha dancer. Truly. His dancing skills were as good as his martial arts. In 1958, he won the Chinese national cha cha dancing championship. Not bad.

There was also a dark side to Lee in his youth. In Hong Kong he fought in street gangs and kept getting into trouble with them. After he was kicked out of school for the umpteenth time and came into contact with the police, his mother decided to send him away — to family in America.

Before he ended up in Hollywood and made a name for himself as a fight film star, he began his American life as a philosophy student at the University of Washington. With, of course, a master’s degree in the philosophy of martial arts techniques. The man turned out to be more than a bundle of muscles and a lot of cha talent. He had a brain, and he used it.


The life lessons behind this extraordinary martial artist and filmmaker, a fine blend of philosophy and life experience, are not to be underestimated.

1.“To know yourself, you must study your interactions with others.

Self-knowledge is the beginning of all knowledge. A classic philosophical proposition, which Bruce gives a practical touch here. “Study yourself in the interaction with others”, that’s a good one.

Because that interaction is indeed the most important thing there is, because your relationship with others is the most important thing you have — to create happiness in life (proved by this 80-year old happiness study).
So in your daily life, pay attention to how you interact with the people around you. From your partner to the train conductor.

Do you often have conflicts with your partner or colleagues, for example?
What body posture do you adopt when meeting people for the first time (do you often sit with your hand in front of your face, for example? Read here what that says about you).

How do you speak to others? Vigorous or reserved?
How do you deal with an annoying boss? Or a demanding colleague?
What do you say when someone cuts in line? Do you stand up for yourself?
Based on the answers, think about how you could best describe yourself. As an assertive person? A sub-assertive person? Passive-aggressive? Or sometimes even a little aggressive? Learn the difference and how to improve your communication in relation to others (in our assertiveness training for example!).

2. “It’s not about more, it’s about less.”

Another fan of minimalism. Being assertive to live a happy daily life, according to the choices you’ve made — that’s what Bruce is talking about here. Choices that you have to reinforce every day.

To be happy, you want to fill your days as much as possible with things that are important to you and that correspond to your personal values. What is not important to you or does not correspond to your personal values should be eliminated or delegated. You do this by setting your own limits, and guarding your limits.

This means that you will probably have to say no to something every day.

An appointment you don’t feel like going to is cancelled.

A request from a colleague that you don’t have time for, you politely decline.

That is the daily reduction of superfluous things that only cause you headaches and do not make your life any more fun — in a healthy, assertive way. (Also want to reduce your stuff daily? Do it with this minimalist tidying method).

3. “Don’t worry about who is right.”

Arguments. We all have them. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just that we so easily lose ourselves in the aggressive who’s right game. At all levels. In world wars and in a discussion with colleagues. In beliefs and in an argument with your partner.

At all levels, says Bruce, it is important to approach the difference in vision with empathy and always resolve it assertively. And that is exactly what assertive arguing does: getting out of it together, without aggression. (And thus also without the ‘you see, I was right’ dance. Bruce wouldn’t do that either. Maybe just a little cha cha.)

4. “As you think, you will become.”

A variation on “you are what you think”. Your thoughts have a great influence on you as you are now, Bruce says. Your daily life is nothing more than a sum of what your thoughts have built up over time. And that is more concrete than it sounds. Your thoughts determine your daily choices, which in turn determine your daily life:

Negative thinking, for example, can send you completely in the wrong direction.

Turning thoughts to the positive side actually helps you move forward. By visualising your ideal situation.

Or by negating your fear of failure (usually the source of negative thoughts) with two simple questions.

Trying to always act with a clear head is therefore the most important thing, Bruce claims. Clearing your head with great regularity is therefore necessary to live your life well. (Clear your head with one sentence, find out which one here).

5. “Always stay yourself, out of yourself and believe in yourself.”

It still sounds somewhat like a cliché at first, but here too Bruce has a very concrete message: “express yourself”, as a practical implementation of “stay yourself” and “believe in yourself”.

Expressing yourself means that you stand up for who you are, what you think and where your boundaries lie — without getting in anyone’s way. And that is something you can put into practice in your day-to-day life:

Learn to say what you think. Really, it is a relief for yourself and it makes it a lot clearer for others to know how you look at things. (For example, it’s best to tell your boss that you’re too busy — in 3 steps).

Dare to be yourself at work. Of course, this always works a little differently than at home, but even at the office, you don’t have to pretend to be different than you are.

Define your boundaries and protect them. Does someone step over your line? Stand up for yourself (as this policeman can teach you).

Express yourself in clear messages, with assertive techniques and powerful body language. That is being 100% you. Good for you, good for the people around you. Everyone will be happier as a result. That’s a life lesson.

You have your daily life under control because you have your thoughts and your head clear. You know very well what you do and do not want to fill those days with and what your limits are. (“As you think you will become.”)
What you don’t like, you eliminate by saying no assertively or by standing up for yourself. (“It’s about the daily reduction.”)

You know yourself, because you have a good sense of how you interact with the people around you. Important, because those relationships determine your happiness in life. If necessary, improve your communication from aggressive, passive-aggressive or sub-assertive to assertive. (“To know yourself, you must study yourself in the interaction with others”).

In conflicts and discussions, you no longer play the I’m right game, because you know that it leads nowhere. Rather, you argue assertively, whereby everyone wins. (“Don’t worry about who is right and who is wrong”).
Now that you know what you think (1), what you want (2), who you are (3) and how that relates to others (4), you are ready to always be yourself — no matter where or with whom you are (5). You express yourself by saying what you think and never misrepresenting yourself, not even at work.

That is the most powerful form of being there is — always being yourself, Bruce claims. And he knows what powerful is. He can knock someone out from 2.5 cm away



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Jort Janssen

Jort Janssen


My name is Jort. I am a starting entrepreneur. I write about entrepreneurship, my experiences and crypto. Of course I write about things I like.