#74 To Hell With Circumstances


“To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.”

Patience was something that Bruce Lee tried to cultivate. His wife Linda said that he would get very frustrated by other people not being able to match his timeline or if they would say they would do something and then not do it. Bruce was in dynamic motion all of the time. He had follow through so when others did not he would get frustrated.

This quote starts with a frustrated, fed up tone, but ends with a proactive, positive tone. It is about not being a victim of circumstances and creating your own solution.

Bruce offered a unique talent to Hollywood, he was a superb martial artist, actor, and writer, but he was dealing with a racist 1960s Hollywood. He was not getting the opportunities his talent deserved because of the color of his skin. Bruce could have kept slowly chipping away at the establishment to get to where he wanted to be, but instead he decided to figure out how to fast track his way to the lead roles he wanted. This led Bruce to move to Hong Kong where he could be a leading role. He became a huge movie star in Hong Kong, breaking every box office, and this finally got the attention of Hollywood.

Bruce Lee’s philosophy is truly action oriented. It comes back to the idea that these things are meant to be lived, not just thought about, not just intellectualized and pondered, but really applied. Since Bruce was a martial artist, it makes sense that he would want to pursue his ideas through movement and action.

Bruce lived fully in the world as a martial artist, father, husband, actor, teacher, artist, writer, and philosopher. He never limited himself to pursuing just one thing at a time. Sometimes we think that we cannot have a relationship since we are focusing on our career or that we cannot be a parent and pursue a career. Go for the whole life experience.

The energy of this quote is also for busting through life’s plateaus.

“A man can achieve great things if he can conquer himself.”

When you reach a plateau, the only way to go beyond that is to put in the effort and conquer whatever is keeping you on that ledge.

“Effort implies a struggle towards a goal, and when you have a goal, a purpose, and end in view, you have placed a limit on your mind. Remove the limit and use the energy of your mind creatively to further your development.”

You have to think outside the box and then take action.

“In this world there are a lot of people who talk intellectually about how they would do this or that. They talk about it but nothing is ever actualized or accomplished.”

Talking about an idea or a project can simulate the feeling that you’re taking action towards your goal, but in reality if you only talk and never take action then you won’t move forward.

“The result of man is action and not thought.”

Creating opportunities is a creative act, and by using your imagination it can be limitless. If you can conceive it then there is a pathway toward it.

“The spiritual power of man’s will remove all obstacles.”

You have to have confidence in yourself, and cannot listen to those who have power over you telling you that you cannot do something.

“I’ve always been buffeted by circumstances because I thought of myself as a human being affected by outside conditioning. Now I realize that I am the power that commands the feeling of my mind and from which circumstances grow.”

Bruce talked a lot about being a self-willed man and that is how he viewed himself.

“A self-willed man obeys a different law – the one law I too hold sacred – the human law in himself, his own individual will.”

Asking someone what they want often causes them to stall without a response.

“Know what you want, don’t worry about the reward but set the motion the machinery to achieve it. My contribution will be the measure of my reward and success.”

Sometimes we confuse ourselves and think that what we want is the reward. Know what you want in the big picture and that there are many pathways to get there. How you get there is the fun of it and when we encounter obstacles we have to be willing to adjust our path to continue forward.

Bruce knew that he wanted to be a leading man telling and writing his own stories. He wanted to highlight and share his love of his culture and art with the world. How he was going to do that, Bruce didn’t know. Originally, he thought that he would do this by opening his martial arts school across America, but that is not what happened. Being open to adjusting his path, led Bruce to the vehicle of entertainment to share his culture and art. It has become obvious that entertainment was a great way for Bruce to share with the world because so many people have become fans of him through his movies. Entertainment is a great vehicle to inspire and share ideas.

It is important to remember that there is a yin and yang to this process. Bruce says that “I’m only being natural.” He also says that he’s not only leading, he’s also being led. He is heeding the bumps in the road and what they’re telling him, so that he knows when he needs to make course adjustments.

“It is not your task solely to lead, for this might make you lose The Way, but to let yourself be led. If you know how to meet you fate with attitude of acceptance, you are sure to find the right guidance. The superior man lets himself be guided; he does not go ahead blindly, but learns form the situation what is demanded of him and then follows that.”

It is a give and take of “What do I need to learn?” and then stepping up to action.

You do have to be a warrior in the pursuit of your purpose because there will be times where you struggle or meet with resistance and you have to figure out how to get beyond that.

“The enemy of development is pain phobia. The unwillingness to suffer interrupts your continuum of awareness and stagnates your action.”

You have to be willing to be uncomfortable along your path.

Bruce was such a high level athlete that he was willing to push his body in a dedicated way.

“Experience shows that an athlete who forces himself to the limit can keep going as long as necessary. This means that ordinary effort will not tap or release the tremendous store of reserve power that is latent in the human body.”

Since he was an athlete, Bruce was practiced at tapping into that store of reserve power that he had. This was not just in athletic accomplishment, but being able to keep pushing and going in situations where it was difficult. Athletes also understand that day to day there are setbacks, but that this is a part of the process.

Running into frustration and people not understanding is a part of the process. That’s how you know you are pushing boundaries and shifting consciousness. What you want may take more than ordinary effort and you have to reconcile yourself with that and take the step. This does not mean that extraordinary effort is required all the time, but there will be instances where you need to give yourself that extra support from your energy reserve to push through.

“When you drop a pebble to a pool of water, the pebble starts a series of ripples that expand until they compass the whole pool. This is exactly what will happen when I give my ideas a definite plan of action.”

Take Action:

“Anytime you use the words NOW and HOW and have awareness about this, you grow – it is the path to reintegration, taking back what is rightfully yours.”

What do you want or need right now? And how can you get? Within that be creative, be honest with yourself, and act. Be brave and create that opportunity.

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)

Mindy Kaling

This week our #AAHA is Mindy Kaling as nominated by our listener Grace who said that she “gave me hope and people to look up to, since they closely resembled what I look like and the culture I come from.” Vera Mindy Chokalingam (born June 24, 1979), known professionally as Mindy Kaling, is an American actress, comedian and writer. Kaling’s parents are from India. She is the creator and star of the television sitcom The Mindy Project, which premiered on Fox and later moved to Hulu; Kaling also serves as a writer and executive producer on the series. Kaling is also known for her work on the popular NBC sitcom The Office, where she portrayed the character Kelly Kapoor. In addition to acting on the show, she was a writer, executive producer, and occasional director for the show throughout most of its run. For her work on The Office, Kaling received various accolades, including a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series, in 2010. In 2012, Kaling was included in the Time 100 list of influential people. In 2014, she was named one of Glamour magazine's Women of the Year. In addition to her work on film and television, Kaling has written two New York Times best-selling memoirs, titled Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) and Why Not Me?, respectively. Kaling graduated from Darthmouth in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in playwriting. She was a classic major for much of college and studied Latin, a subject she has been learning sice the seventh grade. While a 19-year-old sophomore at Dartmouth, Kaling was an intern on Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Kaling said she was a terrible intern, “less if a ‘make copies’ intern and more of a ‘stalk Conan’ intern.” During this same time, Kaling did stand-up in New York City. In August 2002, Kaling portrayed Ben Affleck in an off Broadway play called Matt & Ben which she co wrote with her best friend from college, Brenda Withers – who played Matt Damon.

Mindy thank you for sharing your talents and we think you’re awesome!


This week our #BruceLeeMoment comes from listener Aaron:

Hello Shannon, my name is Aaron. I was born in Misawa Japan but I am not Japanese, just a military brat. Been a fan of your fathers since forever and started catching this podcast from the start and have been loving your ability to convey and demonstrate these philosophies.

My middle name is Bruce. I'm told I was given it because it's a strong name. My dad told me about your dad and introduced me to his films. I think your fathers films do a great job of teaching and conveying the importance of inner strength. Even though your father died before I was born I wonder what he would be doing if he was still around. Even just Game of Death getting completed would have been pretty epic if you ask me.

Chris Cornell just died. Hung himself. It's sad when anyone dies, sure, but when legends die unexpectedly we feel a sudden void. Anyway, all these deaths got me thinking about songs. I thought about art that lives forever even when an artist is gone. I think Prince triggered it, Bowie too. I thought about music. It's weird when you start writing songs. I try not to think about it too much but when you actually jump in and do it, it makes you think about what you say and how you say it. Your podcast was always there to inspire me and remind me about that inner strength and so much more. What you're doing is a great thing.

I wrote songs. I recorded them and soon I'm going to release an album. Though there are so many sources of inspiration throughout the history of humans to influence us all, your father’s words have always been there for me. I even gave him a bit of a nod on one of my songs.

I guess I don't know how to pinpoint the exact "Bruce Lee Moment" I've had. There's been lots of them. They just happen. Maybe it's this moment right now. I just know I'm grateful. Thank you forever. I hope you enjoy the album. It should be out soon. Stay cool, Aaron.”

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


The Bruce Lee Podcast is now on Nerdist.



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