7 Insights From Bruce Lee That Will Improve You as a New Blogger

#3 could be the hardest but most beneficial


Anthony Taylor

3 years ago | 7 min read

I’ve been writing for a living on and off since I was 21, but I’ve only started writing in the last few months.

For much of the previous 20-odd years, I was in PR and corporate communications. I wrote press releases, some features, in-house magazine articles, that kind of stuff.

It wasn’t writing though, not in an authentic way, not in a way that mattered. Well, not for me. It was usually to sell some product, promote some C-suiter, or pedal a load of feel-good messaging for an in-house rag that mostly went in the bin.

In the last two years, I’ve started writing for me and my business. I’m getting better, but I’ve got a long way to go to be as good as I would like to be. Here’s what I’ve learned from the pages of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee that will help me stay the course. I hope they help you too.

1. “Don’t court the approval or flattery of others.”

From an early age, our brain is hardwired to make sure we maintain the approval of others. It’s a survival mechanism encoded in our DNA. As young children, we learn not to lose the approval of our parents or our teachers.

This often extends into adulthood, and for many, it becomes an addiction.

People can spend years of their life worrying about what others might think, doing things they would rather not do, going against their better judgment, and even risking their welfare and those of others into the bargain.

Millennia ago, it served a purpose to keep us alive. We stood a better chance of surviving and passing down our genes if we belonged to a tribe.

Today, it doesn’t matter anywhere near as much. As a writer, I have fallen prey to the musical charms of other’s approval. I have edited bits out others found “too much.” I have been alarmed by the intake of breath and the, “Are you sure you want to say that?”, editing out what I wanted to say.

I have procrastinated in almost every single way Steven Pressfield describes in Do The Work. It took me two years to interview, compile, edit, and summarise the thoughts of 28 people for my book Tips From the Top — The Secrets of How to Successfully Navigate Middle Management.

Much of that time was spent procrastinating. In my head, what I was doing was similar to what Napoleon Hill did with Think & Grow Rich, and Tim Ferriss did with Tribe of Mentors, and who the hell am I to compare myself to those two? That was my approval addiction kicking in. I was too worried about what people would think.

“No-one cares.” Those were the wise words from one of the contributors to the book when he asked what was stopping me. Two words that jolted me out my approval addiction and pushed me over the line to publish it. Cristian Mihai said the same words in this insightful article:

2. “Daily discovery and understanding is the process of learning and growth.”

Since I committed to writing more and improving my skills in this area, I’ve ramped up my desire to learn and grow.

Over the last ten years, since my divorce, I had already developed an insatiable appetite for reading and self-development. I began this journey out of pain and a quest to understand what had gone wrong and what part I played.

Upon joining Medium, I have been devouring content from writers I have come to admire like Tim Denning, Ayodeji Awosika, Esat Artug, and Cristian Mihai and many others.

I’ve learned I rush, and I don’t spend anywhere near enough time on headlines or, more importantly, editing and proof-reading. I’ve learned that I will be disappointed by the response some articles get and moved to tears by the reactions others get.

I’ve made a pact not to judge myself too harshly until I’ve been writing steadily and consistently for at least two years — because I simply won’t yet have done enough work for that to be constructive. I’ve learned to be kind to myself but a tough task-master too.

I’ve also realised I need to read and re-read things many times before the penny drops, and that’s OK. I’ve taken the same approach to lose weight, tracking it every day. Some days are down, some days are up, but overall I’ve lost a stone since I started.

I permitted myself to be kind, to embrace the process, and it’s working. I’ll do the same with my writing.

3. “Inwardly, psychologically be a nobody. Practice humility.”

Learning to surrender my approval addiction and to be willing to share some of my most painful experiences early on helped me hugely to apply this.

I have been fortunate to be met by genuine gratitude from many for my willingness to do it. It’s a battle I must be honest. I know I love praise, and it can be intoxicating to be invited on to podcasts as an ‘expert’. It leaves me with a buzz, a warm feeling in my chest, and a sense of lightness in my gait as I walk.

And then I remember why I do what I do, and it helps me stay grounded. That, of course, and having a dog who looks down his nose at me as I pick up his shit. That always helps. As does having my writing rejected by editors and readers.

4. “No-one can hurt me unless I allow him to.”

This ties in with the rejection and reminds me of an old saying my Mum used to tell me many times as a child, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Too often, we allow the words of others to have a disproportionate effect on us. They are, when all is said and done, just a series of sound waves. What hurts is the meaning we attach to the words.

Frequently, we allow our performance in the roles we play, son, father, writer, husband, etc., to impact on our identity. If we confuse our role performances with our value as a human being, our self-image will go up and down with each performance.

When we learn to separate our identity, our value and self-worth as a human being from the roles that we play in life, then we are better able to deal with the criticism, opinions and general bullshit that is directed at us.

I find it pays to remember this, cruder, but no less effective saying, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone has one.”

5. “Don’t become discouraged — use obstacles as stepping stones.”

No achievement of any value comes easy. If you are reading this, you have faced setbacks and adversity and continued. Well done.

The key to resilience, which is what Bruce is talking about, is the ability to manage our emotions. When we learn to manage our feelings, then we can focus on managing the only two things we ever have complete control over, our mindset, and what we do — our actions.

With that achieved, we can focus on two other essential ingredients of resilience, goal setting, and goal achievement — the ability to achieve what we set out to do, despite the challenges and setbacks we face.

There are are two principal types of goals we need to set, Outcome goals and Process goals.

Our Outcome goal might be to make a living as a writer, gain 1,000 followers, or earn $500 on Medium each month. Our Process goals might be to write for three hours every day, publish four stories a week and spend three hours a week commenting and interacting on other people’s content.

For those dark days when progress seems slow, self-doubt and frustrations are high, remember what Winston Churchill said, “Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.”

6. “Repetition of thought-emotionalised with a burning desire.”

What Bruce knew instinctively is now being proved by neuroscience.

Paul Brown is a Professor of Neuroscience and writes in his book, Neuropsychology for Coaches:

“There are eight basic emotions; they mix like the primary colours to create feelings and feelings are what give colour to your life and meaning to experiences. There can be no change or development in behaviour without that change being structural in the brain and in the emotional pathways that create and consolidate that development.”

What we now know is that it is the emotional energy generated alongside our thoughts that create new pathways of thinking within the brain. The more strongly we feel emotions alongside the thoughts of what we want, the more we are likely to embed the behaviours we need to do to reach our goals.

Or, as Bruce said, “emotionalised with a burning desire.” How badly do you want it?

7. “Be a practical dreamer backed by action.”

Here Bruce is talking about the importance of visualisation. This is a powerful tool used by many of the world’s great athletes, yet underused by the majority of the world.

There is overwhelming research that proves that visualisation can have a fantastic impact. Mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes in the brain: motor control, attention, perception, planning, and memory.

When we visualise the brain is getting trained for actual performance during visualisation. Repetitive mental rehearsal can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, and increase states of flow — when what you do is effortless!

The link between the mind and the body is powerful — people can think themselves poorly and think themselves well.

But, as powerful as that may be, nothing trumps action. I would say that Bruce is inviting us to dream. Dream about what posts to write, dream about captivating, emotive headlines, dream about sitting at our laptops, fingers dancing across the keyboard as we, in a state of bliss, are oblivious to the continuous passing of time.

Some of my best thoughts come when I am dreaming, when I have stopped, mentally and physically and I gaze from my favourite chair at the ceiling. And when that time is done, it’s time for action.


Created by

Anthony Taylor







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