“It’s not what you give, it’s how you give it.”
Bruce Lee is talking about how you approach life, how you show-up in the world. It’s not what you’re doing, but how you’re approaching it. This concept is about effort, quality, and injecting your heart into what you do. Bruce was a big believer in putting in the training, the hours of practice, and applying effort towards his goals. He also believed in natural action, being in the flow, and not being in opposition to life. Bruce believed in sincerity, with your work coming from your heart.
When Bruce Lee came to the US when he was 18, he could speak some English, but was not fluent. He really wanted to communicate and have facility with the English language in a way that he did not have. Bruce put in the effort and applied himself learning the grammar and syntax of English. He also wanted to be able to communicate colloquially, and practiced this through telling jokes. Being able to understand humor in another language helps you to communicate in a more natural way. So, Bruce Lee was very into telling jokes, especially puns. Bruce approached learning the English language from all angles, including perfecting his handwriting and signature.
Quality was a very important value to Bruce as a human being and in all that he did. It was important to Bruce to have the quality of nice penmanship and sentence structure, but also the quality of communication and expression in English. To be able to express himself clearly and beautifully was important to Bruce because his goal in life was self-actualization and expressing who he was as a human being to the world.
“I don’t want to do things halfway.”
It was a value of Bruce Lee to express himself fully in whatever he decided to engage in.
“Some people may not believe it, but I have spent hours perfecting and working on whatever I did.”
Bruce Lee’s hard work shows, but for some reason, we want to look at Bruce Lee and declare him a natural talent. Which is not to say that Bruce had no natural talent, but he put in the effort, the time, the practice, and the love to craft his talents and achieve his level of mastery. He is an example of what can be accomplished if we put work into and develop our natural talents.
You have to work hard, but not work against yourself. Just because Bruce Lee followed a certain path, does not mean you have to follow the same path. You have to find what works for you and your goals. How you give is also the way that you give. It has to be your way, not someone else’s way.
When you listen to Bruce Lee talk, it is very distinct and memorable. Anything that he is saying, he is expressing at a high level because he is so tuned into who he is. When Bruce is speaking he is very present and connected to whomever he is talking to because he is trying to connect and relate to that person.
“It is sincerity that leads you to the Way.”
What is sincerity? It is coming from your heart, your feeling, your emotion, and your genuineness. This notion of sincerity is about “how you give it.”
“You should express yourself as an effect from within.”
Express yourself from the inside out. There was a balance of masculine and feminine within Bruce, which can be jarring for some people since visually Bruce was such a representation of the masculine. Bruce Lee was a balanced masculine because he was vulnerable about his sincerity and genuineness.
Bruce did not start out this way. Growing up he experimented with expressing himself brashly and confidently (others might call it arrogantly,) and in a way that was challenging or upsetting to people. He had to learn to apply the generosity of gentleness to the way he communicated because in that way people will hear what you’re saying. Early on, Bruce was criticized for being brash and critical, and he realized that speaking that way was not accomplishing what he wanted to. If your words rile and inflame people then they are going to immediately be in conflict with you, they will not listen and become defensive.
The reason that we still talk about Bruce Lee’s words is because he moved into a sincere place with his communication.
“Living destiny is to follow the silent, unshakeable law in your own heart which to the self-expressed man is godhead.”
If you’re going to live your destiny you need to follow what you know to be true and real in your own heart and self-express that. To express who you are and what is in heart is to live your destiny harmoniously.
You as a human being are an experience in this world. When you are present with people you are inviting them to the experience of you. What do you want the experience of you to be in this world?
“To live is a constant process of relating.”
If you are truly rooted in yourself, if you truly know who you are, if your internal world and your outer expression are really flowing as one, then what you manifest out in the world will be an expression of your soul. When you meet someone who is expressing their soul, you feel it. This is what is so compelling and captivating about Bruce Lee, he was expressing his soul.
“The root is the fulcrum on which will rest the expression of your soul. The root is the starting point of natural manifestation. If the root is right, so will be its manifestations.”
Don’t neglect who you are because the experience of you out in the world is what you are cultivating within yourself.
“To mature means to take responsibility for your life and to be your own. Maturing is the transcendence from environment to self.”
What is the “you” experience? Are you expressing that experience? Experiment with a small, manageable moment to see how close you can get that interaction to be an expression of your truest self, the “you” experience. If you have a task or conversation you have to do, ask yourself what you want the experience to be. Remember to anchor the experience of “you” in your own sincerity.
We'd love to hear how you're doing with the experience of "you." If you’d like to share how you’re doing with this action item you can email us at email@example.com.
(Awesome Asians and Hapas)
This week we have a letter from listener Maxie:
“Aloha Shannon & Sharon
Firstly, peace & thank you for the not only starting the Bruce Lee podcast, but for continuing to shine yours & Bruce Lee's Light in the world. i drove all the way to Seattle from Los Angeles just to pay respects to his & Brandon's grave a few years ago.
I am a Hapa! Hawaiian, Filipino. I went to film school & graduated in writing/humanities - Bruce Lee philosophies have always been at the forefront of my experiences: being a mixed asian trying to find her calling & purpose in the industry, as well as in society because ive never seen "hapas" /asians well represented.
I just wanted to reach out & say thank you for making me feel heard by merely acknowledging us. love! Maxie C.”
This week our #BruceLeeMoment is from listener Jacob F.:
Hello Shannon and Sharon! Thank you so much for all your work and dedication in making the podcast. Sharing what is clearly so valuable to you in such a genuine and thoughtful way inspires me with every episode, and in turn I love to share the podcast with others in my life. I wanted to share my Bruce Lee moment with you.
About nine months ago my life took a shift. I left New York City, the restaurant industry, and a relationship that had recently ended, and embarked on a camping journey around the country, with no particular goal or destination. In retrospect I was seeking to reconnect with myself in order to find my flow in the world. As a part of this process I took a break from all forms of media- with the exception of one book about dharma, and your podcast (you could say I hacked away the unessentials). As you can probably imagine, many episodes felt like they were speaking directly to my experience at the time. I had so many Bruce Lee moments- relating to change, honest expression, and being in my own process, to name a few- that my whole life felt like one big Bruce Lee moment. I could not have chosen just one to write to you about.
I found my path with an incredibly transformative yoga teacher training program about five months ago, and since then my life has been flowing beautifully. I am now working towards teaching yoga full-time, as it brings me great joy and the feeling that I am providing something good to others. I have been diving deeply into the philosophy and practice of yoga, and the parallels to Bruce Lee are striking. Your podcast is a unique source of inspiration for me, and I bring that inspiration into my yoga classes through Bruce Lee quotes, and sometimes whole class themes based on a quote of his.
So here is my actual Bruce Lee moment: Last night I had a dream that I was on a boat. I suddenly realized that there was a huge, swelling storm brewing all around us, the waves getting bigger and more violent by the second. I made eye contact with another man on the boat, and I could see he was scared just like me. I thought, "We might die...Well, I'm going to do my best. If I'm going to get tossed into this storm and absorbed in the ocean, I think my best bet is to be like water." The man reached his hand out, and I gave him a big, long hug. Holding him close, and with a deep feeling of compassion, I said to him, "Be water, my friend. Empty your mind. Be formless. Shapeless. Like water." I knew that would be the only way either of us could survive.
I don't feel a need to explain or analyze that any further. But that is my Bruce Lee moment. I hope it expresses the depth to which Bruce Lee, his philosophy, and your podcast have influenced me and become absorbed into my mind. Thank you so, so very much, for all the work that you do. All the very best, Jacob”
The Bruce Lee Podcast is now on Nerdist.com.