#68 Defeat is a State of Mind

“Defeat is a state of mind; no one is very defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality. To me, defeat in anything is merely temporary, and its punishment is but an urge for me to exert greater effort to achieve my goal. Defeat simply tells me that something is wrong in my doing; it is a path leading to success and truth.”

Bruce defines defeat not as a mistake or failure, but as an attitude of giving up or a depressive attitude, a loss of energy.

We all get knocked down and experience moments where things go wrong. It is important to process your feelings about that failure, but you cannot dwell there. Failure is merely temporary and if you accept defeat then you stay knocked down instead of getting back up. You must accept defeat to be truly defeated.

When you suffer from depression, it can be harder to get back up after life knocks you down. Working through the feeling of defeat can be more difficult than deciding to stay knocked down.

The answer to your problems is within the problem itself. What is it you’re trying to do? Why weren’t you able to do it? Was it something that was within your power to control or was it outside of your control? What can you learn from this? When something goes wrong, if you’re willing to dive deep into the problem and be very honest with yourself, there is an answer for how you can work your way out of or around the problem.

If it feels like you are making the same mistake or failure repeatedly, you might not be learning the lesson in these failures. Even if you cannot control something bad happening to you, you can control your reaction to it. Don’t focus on what happened, focus on how you react to what happened.

“Remember, my friend, it is not what happens that counts; it is how you react to them. Your mental attitude determines what you make of it—either a stepping stone or stumbling block.”

It can be incredibly frustrating when you invest time and energy into an endeavor and then something out of your control causes you to fail. You might feel that since you failed it was not worth all the effort and time you put in, but you can control how you react to the failure. What did you learn? Can you try a different approach to your endeavor? What happens if you reposition your view of the situation?

“Put the different fragments of the dream together and re-own these fragmented parts; re-own the hidden potential in the dream.”

Anytime we are defeated in some way, it is because we are working towards a dream. When we fail, we can think that all our effort was worthless, but originally there was an excitement in our dream. Pick up those pieces of your dream, and re-own the dream. Focus on the pieces that you were excited by and bring them on your journey forward.

It is easy to focus on the losses and the difficulty. Instead try to focus on the parts of the journey that were giving you joy, satisfaction, and energy.

“It is not a shame to be knocked down by other people. The important thing is to ask when you are being knocked down, “Why am I being knocked down?” If a person can reflect in this way, then there is hope for this person.”

You have to investigate why you are being knocked down and be objective in your understanding of what happened. If you’re open to growth, then you know that there are things that you can do better with. Defeat educates and leads to the truth. Think of defeat as your teacher instead of as your enemy.

“It is not what happens that is success or failure, but what is does to the heart of man. No man is defeated unless he is discouraged.”

When you’ve lost your heart connection that is when you are defeated. Don’t let the failure break your heart, try and be in relationship with the lesson instead.

“Why add the tension of emotion or negative thought to a situation which is in reality a passing moment? Do what seems wise to be done, forget it and walk on.”

Do not take up residence in the negativity of failure. The sting of defeat is meant to be a wake up call; not a life sentence.

There are major crises and tragedies that happen to us in our lives that we have to struggle through. Do not expect yourself to be chipper and upbeat during a tragedy, it is natural to struggle emotionally. It is tough, but in those crises there are threads of growth that you can start to work with if that is a place you want to move out of.

If you can stay present in the moment during tragedy or crises, then not every moment is a horrible moment. When Shannon’s brother died, they were in a state of shock and grief, but even during this tragedy there were moments when they would laugh. They would tell stories about him and laugh at what a crazy goofball he was. In those moments when there is a kindness or a joyfulness, take them and hold on to them. You might be in the midst of a bigger problem, but if you can stay present in the moment, there are also good moments in there.

When Bruce Lee was in Hollywood, he was told repeatedly that he was not good enough to be a leading man or that he had the wrong skin color. It could have felt that “Everyone is telling me this so it must be true,” but Bruce believed in himself and knew himself. What the Hollywood establishment was saying to Bruce was just the mindset of a few people in power at the time, it wasn’t true in the general public. As soon as Bruce went to a different country he became a leading man. Sometimes you have to switch your position, or view of a situation, to accomplish what you dream.

“The control of our being is not unlike the combination of a safe, one turn of the knob rarely unlocks the safe. Each advance and retreat is a step toward one’s goal.”

Sometimes you can have a good thing happen which propels you forward, and then a bad thing that brings you backwards. Don’t get caught up on the small picture, instead focus on how you are moving in the right direction towards accomplishing your dream.

“Be pliable. When man is living, he is soft and pliable; when he is dead, he becomes rigid. Pliability is life; rigidity is death, whether one speaks of his body, his mind or his spirit.”

“With every adversity comes a blessing because a shock acts as a reminder to oneself that we must not get stale in routine.”

Take Action:

When you get knocked down by life or circumstance, how can you reframe it as a learning opportunity? How can you use this as opportunity to learn more about yourself rather than place blame outside yourself? If you’ve recently been knocked down by something, ask “What would you like to teach me?”

If you’d like to share how you’re doing with this action item you can email us at hello@brucelee.com.


(Awesome Asians and Hapas)

Jennifer Ho

This week we have a listener nomination from Matthew Grady who nominates his wife Jennifer Ho:

“This may seem somewhat personal but I would like to nominate my wife for your podcast segment on awesome Asian Americans and Happas. Her name is Jennifer Ho. She is a professor at UNC Chapel Hill. She is Asian American, a professor of mixed raced studies, 20th and 21st century American literature, and critical race theory. She is the daughter of Chinese immigrants (father from China and mother Chinese Jamaican).

She has written extensively on issue surrounding mixed race identity. She works diligently, both in the classroom and in her research/talks/publications, to help people understand the importance of and influence that Asian Americans have in American culture and history; as well as showing people where racism exists in our society and how to address institutional racism and how to be a racial ally.

I just wanted to give her a shout out because I'm super proud of her and the work that she has done.”

Jennifer is the author of three books including Racial Ambiguity in Asian American Culture, and co-editor of Narrative Race, and Ethnicity in the United States. She has published in journals such as Modern Fiction Studies, Journal for Asian American Studies, Amerasia Journal, The Global South and also has presented at conferences such as the American Studies Association, Modern Language Association, American Literature Association, and the association.

Thank you Matthew for nominating your wife, and Jennifer we think you’re awesome!


Our #BruceLeeMoment comes from Trent N.:

“Hello! I have been listening to the Podcast for many months now, and I make sure to never miss an episode. The content that is shared is very refreshing and never mundane. Though today I am writing for a specific reason. This is harder to explain in words, but I will do my best.

I am 23 and go to college at Purdue Northwest in Indiana. My major is in elementary education. Though, I recently got my psychology minor. This brings me to my story. Spring semester last year, I signed up to take a counseling class. I signed up because my counselor said people liked the instructor. So I did. The professors name was Rachel Steffens. She was an Asian American, in her mid 30's. (For some reason, not what I was expecting). She was extremely fit. In many ways, the female equivalent to Bruce Lee... She did lots of weight training and also took care of her mental state. Rachel was brought to the states when she was very young, to live with a family that wanted to adopt her. The family lived in Kentucky. Apparently she loved psychology and counseling and that's what she pursued. She said she never thought she would end up teaching, but she taught once and fell in love with it. I'm glad she did! There was never a dull moment in her class!

Being that the class was a counseling class, we often shared things about ourselves. She was the first professor I had, who showed interest in who I was as a person. She would remember things that I said like my sisters name and age, and all my hobbies like playing guitar, and running. (She could recall specific details as well). I know others in the class felt the same way too. There was something about her life force that made her so unique, and beautiful. It seemed very familiar but I didn't make any connections. So I went through her class and got my credits. I then went into summer and started working. One day in early June I received a message saying that Professor Steffens had died due to a brain aneurysm. I was totally stunned. I could not understand how somebody in such great health, at such an early age could die.

Fast forward to December when I came across the podcast. After listening, I heard many things that resonated with what Rachel would say in class. The first time I listened to the podcast, it brought a tear to my eyes. Hearing Shannon speak about Bruce Lee's philosophy is just like hearing Rachel speak. The messages are almost identical. This makes me wonder if Rachel had been a fan of Bruce Lee. I'm going to bet that she was. I wish that I could have met Bruce Lee but in some respects, I already have. I realized that I don't have to be awesome like Bruce or Rachel were, but that people in the world can experience that 'Bruce Lee' feeling from me being the most authentic person I can be. This authentic being is what is remembered, way after the person is gone.

Thanks for the amazing podcasts! Trent N.”

Share your #AAHA and #BruceLeeMoment recommendations with us via social media @BruceLee or email us at hello@brucelee.com.


Lydy Walker60