The Bruce Lee Method of Learning

Avthar’s Weekly Wisdom #23 (10/4/2020)

Hello my fellow curious people,

Today, I want to talk about Bruce Lee. Many of you know Bruce Lee as an actor and martial artist. But what inspires me most about Bruce Lee is his philosophy, in particular his approach to learning.

His greatest teaching is just one sentence long. It lays out the ultimate process for learning anything and becoming world class at it:

“Research your own experience; absorb what is useful, reject what is useless and add what is essentially your own.” 

- Bruce Lee, Wisdom for the Way

The quote above captures what I call The Bruce Lee Method of Learning. It’s a meta-process which can be applied to learning and mastering any skill in any field, be it in business, writing, engineering, or art.

What I love most about the Bruce Lee Method of Learning, is that it rejects the existence of “one true way” or “the best method” of doing something. Instead, it emphasizes deciding for yourself: absorbing useful parts of different methods, rejecting parts you find to be unhelpful and ultimately remixing everything to create your own way of doing the art. It’s a process of finding your own way and creating your own style of a skill or art.

Bruce Lee did this himself when he created the new martial art of Jeet Kune Do, a hybrid philosophy which paved the way for modern mixed martial arts as we know it. However, he shut down his Jeet Kune Do schools, since he felt it would be inauthentic to teach it to others as “the way”, when he came to it through his own exploration and inquiry. Instead of teaching Jeet Kune Do to others, he felt they should use it as a means to also find their own way and absorb, reject and add from the various martial arts out there. He explains his decision in the quote below:

“The original founder of a style started out with a hypothesis. But now it has become gospel truth, and people who go into that become the product of it. It doesn’t matter how you are, who you are, how you are structured, how you are built or how you are made...it doesn’t seem to matter. You just go in there and be the product. And that, to me, is not right.” 

- Bruce Lee, Wisdom for the Way

Bruce Lee embodies the principle of Finding Your Own Way: not trying to copy how some successful person made it, but instead being true to yourself and finding your own path to mastery and success. He stresses the importance of independent inquiry — finding out the truth for yourself, and not being dependent on someone else’s views or the dogma of a particular school of thought:

 “Whenever I look around, I always learn one thing, and that is: Always be yourself...express yourself, have faith in yourself. Do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate him.

...Independent inquiry is needed in your search for truth, not dependence on anyone else’s view or a mere book.” 

-Bruce Lee, Wisdom for the Way

In a world where everyone is trying to sell us the “one true way” to getting rich, business growth, or a happy marriage, the Bruce Lee Method of Learning is more important than ever. It’s a reminder to find our own way and discover the truth for ourselves in every part of life.

I hope that the Bruce Lee Method of Learning inspires you to find your own way in life and leads you to success and happiness.

Until next week,

Avthar

📚PS: If you enjoyed this letter, you might like my essay on “Finding Your Own Way”, which explores the role of authenticity in success, with wisdom from Naval Ravikant, Dr Kapil Gupta and Josh Waitzkin. 

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Once again, thank you so much for reading!