In 1969, nobody expected a skinny Asian man to become one of the most influential personalities in modern history.
Nobody, that is, except for Bruce Lee.
Named by TIME magazine as 1 of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century, and the first person to ever be inducted into the martial arts hall of fame, Bruce Lee was a man light years ahead of his time. In fact, he was light years ahead of our time too.
Much more than just an actor, or a martial artist with charismatic personality, Bruce was a deep thinker, and a philosopher, worthy of the same recognition and praise, in my book, as a Plato, Nietzsche, and many other great minds in history. Not just for his profound outlook on life, but for his ability to apply his philosophy and demonstrate tangible results. It is extremely rare for anyone to be able to all but perfect their physical, mental and spiritual being. Bruce, accomplished them all, and did so at the young age of just 32.
How did he accomplish this great task, is the obvious question. Well, I recently became aware of some letters Bruce wrote, and had to share it with my followers.
I, Bruce Lee, will be the first highest paid Oriental super star in the United States. In return I will give the most exciting performances and render the best of quality in the capacity of an actor. Starting 1970 I will achieve world fame and from then onward till the end of 1980 I will have in my possession $10,000,000. I will live the way I please and achieve inner harmony and happiness.
Actual letter Bruce wrote himself
Four years after penning this mysterious letter, this remarkable human being was found dead. But during those short four years, Bruce accomplished all of his stated goals and more. In fact, Bruce revolutionized martial arts, which is why the president of the UFC refers to him as the father of mixed martial arts. But even more impressive than this distinction, is the fact that Bruce helped change the world’s perception of the entire Chinese race.
You see, prior to Bruce’s entry into Hollywood, Chinese people were largely portrayed in a demeaning and degrading light. For decades China was considered the “sick man of Asia” because the Western powers, and Japanese elite, invaded and decimated the country during the Opium Wars. This had a terrible impact on the Chinese people, who were largely relegated to a position of servitude and helplessness. Bruce, however, helped to change that concept forever, and replaced this disempowering stereotype with one of martial arts and strength. A colossal feat that is often overlooked.
So How The Hell Did Bruce Lee Know He Was Going To Do This?
Bruce’s declaration to himself is undoubtedly intriguing. How could he know such a thing?? Well, reading another letter he wrote — this one when he was just 21 years old — provides us with the preceding insight;
This letter is hard to understand. It contains my dreams and my ways of thinking, as a whole, you can call it my way of life. It will be rather confusing as it is difficult to write down exactly how I feel. Yet I want to write and let you know about it. I’ll do my best to write it clearly and I hope that you, too, will keep an open mind in this letter, and don’t arrive at any conclusions till you are finished.
There are two ways of making a good living, one is the result of hard working, and the other, the result of the imagination (requires work, too, of course). It is a fact that labor and thrift produce a competence, but fortune, in the sense of wealth, is the reward of the man who can think of something that hasn’t been thought of before. In every industry, in every profession, ideas are what America is looking for. Ideas have made America what she is, and one good idea will make a man what he wants to be.
One part of my life is gung fu. This art influences me greatly in the formation of my character and ideas. I practice gung fu as a physical culture, a form of mental training, a method of self-defense, and a way of life. Gung fu is the best of all martial art; yet the Chinese derivatives of judo and karate, which are only basics of gung fu, are flourishing all over the US. This so happens because no one has heard of this supreme art; also there are no competent instructors… I believe my long years of practice back up my title to become the first instructor of this movement. There are yet long years ahead of me to polish my techniques and character. My aim, therefore, is to establish a first Gung Fu Institute that will later spread out all over the US (I have set up a time limit of 10 to 15 years to complete the whole project). My reason in doing this is not the sole objective of making money. The motives are many and among them are: I like to let the world know about the greatness of this Chinese art; I enjoy teaching and helping people; I like to have a well-to-do home for my family; I like to originate something; and the last but yet one of the important is because gung fu is part of myself.
I know my idea is right, and therefore the results would be satisfactory. I don’t really worry about the reward, but to set in motion the machinery to achieve it. My contribution will be the measure of my reward and success.
Before he passed away, some asked the late Dr Charles P. Steimetz, the electrical genius, in his opinion “What branch of science would make the most progress in the next twenty-five years?” He paused and thought for several minutes then like a flash replied, “spiritual realization.” When a man comes to a conscious vital realization of those great spiritual forces within himself and begins to use those forces in science, in business and in life, his progress in the future will be unparalleled.
I feel I have this great creative and spiritual force within me that is greater than faith, greater than ambition, greater than confidence, greater than determination, greater than vision. It is all these combined. My brain becomes magnetized with this dominant force which I hold in my hand.
When you drop a pebble into a pool of water, the pebble starts a series of ripples that expand until they encompass the whole pool. This is exactly what will happen when I give my ideas a definite plan of action. Right now, I can project my thoughts into the future, I can see ahead of me. I dream (remember that practical dreamers never quit). I may now own nothing but a little place down in basement, but once my imagination has got up to a full head of steam, I can see painted on a canvas of my mind a picture of a fine, big five or six story Gung Fu Institute with branches all over the States. I am not easily discouraged, readily visualize myself as overcoming obstacles, winning out over setbacks, achieving “impossible” objectives.