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What Bruce Lee’s Philosophy Can Teach You About Navigating Social Media

Apr 13, 2024

In a world saturated with influencers proclaiming their ultimate routines for success, happiness, and self-improvement, it's easy to fall prey to the illusion of an "optimal" life.

The legendary Bruce Lee was not only an actor and a martial arts master but also a philosopher who developed a unique approach to life and combat. He’s credited with the quote:

"Absorb what is useful, discard what is not, and add what is uniquely your own."

Lee believed that traditional martial arts were often rigid and not fully equipped to prepare students for real-world self-defense scenarios.

  • "Absorb what is useful" - referred to experimenting with effective techniques from any martial arts style.

  • "Discarding what is not" - removing any move that was impractical or unnecessarily complex.

  • "Adding what is uniquely your own" - personalizing one's martial arts style, making it adaptable and reflective of one's individual strengths and weaknesses.

This was the foundation of Lee's own hybrid martial arts philosophy, Jeet Kune Do.

Looking back at my own professional and personal journey it’s in complete alignment with how Bruce Lee developed Jeet Kune Do.

I’ve done it all: Cold showers, meditation, getting up at 4AM, hundreds of different supplements, methylene blue.

Well, I still haven’t tried coffee enemas yet, but I think I’ll keep that part of my body a one-way street...

The Illusion of Optimal

Scrolling through any social media platform - I admit to still catching myself "doom-scrolling" once in a while - every influencer seems to have cracked the code to an ideal life.

From secret morning routines they learned from Tibetan Monks to meticulously planned diets, magical supplements and business strategies, the message is clear: Follow these steps, and you too can achieve ultimate success and happiness.

However, this pursuit of the "optimal" often masks the nuanced realities of individual experiences, creating an unattainable standard that leaves most feeling inadequate.

I know I did.

Here’s the truth: Social media is a game of engagement and this often requires that you "fake it till you make it".

A lot of the health and efficiency improvements, revenue numbers and client successes are often inflated and sometimes entirely made up.

I think we’ve all witnessed how someone with hundreds of thousands of followers went from evangelical promotion of weird diets to changing their stance as their previous health improvements started reversing and even deteriorating:

  • The vegan influencer crying openly on camera and admitting to eating meat again.

  • The carnivore influencer enthusiastically bingeing on honey and fruits, while still clinging on to the moniker "animal-based".

My goal isn’t to discredit them, it’s to remind you of the importance of authenticity, honesty, and the willingness to embrace experimentation in our lives.

Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

The Cost of Comparison

Comparing our own behind-the-scenes, bloated morning face with everyone else's highlight reel, we lose sight of our own.

Measuring our self-worth against a curated illusion leads to a pursuit of success that may not even align with our true desires or needs.

Authenticity and Honesty

At the heart of Bruce Lee's philosophy is a call to finding your own way. To be able to manage the bombardment of one-size-fits-all solutions, we must first cultivate a practice of introspection and honesty.

Acknowledging our unique strengths, weaknesses, passions, and fears is the first step. Optimal is a transient phenomenon and may change from day to day - it’s trying to hit a moving target.

I believe an optimal diet is what works for YOU, and that it will change over time as your body changes, as the seasons change, as your needs change. The diet just stopped working because it eventually created bottlenecks in your bioenergetics. It’s the diet, not you.

I teach an approach to training in The Last Program ( where you start out with a basic and minimalistic template, and progress and adjust it according to YOUR individual progress.

People want to be told what to do, and I get it - but it’s intellectually lazy and it can never work as well as systematically trying stuff out for yourself.

The Courage to Experiment

True growth and self-discovery lie in the willingness to experiment.

Trying new approaches, stepping outside our comfort zones, and accepting the unpredictable nature of life enable us to uncover what genuinely resonates with us.

This journey of experimentation is not without its challenges, often accompanied by fear of failure or judgment. Social media algorithms will register what type of content and people you interact with, and now start showing you more of that.

Now, you’re stuck in an echo chamber where it seems as if EVERYONE is doing it and it’s working amazingly well for them. Except that you’re only seeing the 1% of the 1%, and the remaining 99.9% that it’s NOT working for are silent.

Because anyone who voices their concern or says out loud that their experience was negative are shamed or ridiculed, or just told "you did it wrong".

Absorbing What is Useful

The essence of Bruce Lee's philosophy encourages us to approach life with a willingness to experiment, absorbing what serves us best while remaining open to change if new knowledge becomes available to us.

This doesn't mean indiscriminately adopting every piece of advice but rather, evaluating against our personal values and goals.

Discarding What is Not

Equally important is the ability to let go of what doesn't serve us.

This could mean outdated beliefs, toxic relationships, or practices that no longer align with our own evolution as a professional. The act of discarding is not one of failure but of clearing space for what truly matters.

The Ego doesn’t always want that.

It wants to define itself according to what "tribe" it belongs to. But healthy psychological development involves using First Principle thinking to question your beliefs with a "what if the opposite is true" mindset and even try to find evidence for that.

A great definition of having a Healthy Ego comes from my coach Cliff Wilson:

"I want to be right so bad that I’m going to switch my approach when I receive conflicting information."

Yes, I have a coach, and I think everyone should have not just one, but several coaches throughout their careers.

You know why I chose Cliff?

Because some of his methods were the opposite of what I believed in. I had to learn from someone who disagreed with me to become a better coach myself.

Adding What is Uniquely Our Own

The culmination of absorbing the useful and discarding the unnecessary opens us up for innovation and creativity.

By adding what is uniquely our own, we contribute to the world from a place of authenticity, offering perspectives and solutions that reflect our individuality.

Having spent a majority of my career coaching people on nutrition and training, I discovered almost a decade ago that this was the "easy" part. The difficult part was changing the mindset and habits.

Many have struggled to find their own way, being overwhelmed with all the conflicting advice and thinking they were at fault when they were unable to make a certain strategy 1000x their energy/fat loss/muscle building/revenue.

I have gradually shifted my approach to focus more on psychology and mental frameworks, and focusing on identifying the most effective strategies for training and nutrition to maximise Efficiency, drawing upon both my own experiences and those of my clients’ successes (and failures).

It was scary to shift from something I was so familiar with to something that was so complex and challenging, but it turned out to be a shift with the power to truly 10x my happiness.

No special hack. Just figuring out the overlap between:

  1. What I was curious about

  2. What I was good at

  3. What solved problems for both myself and people I enjoyed working with.

This is where true fulfillment lies—not copying others, but creating our own philosophy, with a combination of our unique contributions and experiences.

The Journey Continues

My path to authenticity and self-discovery is still ongoing, a process of learning, unlearning, and relearning.

It requires patience, compassion, and commitment to remain true to myself amidst the noise. It’s not easy, but the feeling I get from a wasted hour of doom-scrolling is a powerful reminder to get back on track.

By embracing Bruce Lee's philosophy, I truly believe it is possible to empower ourselves to navigate life's complexities, creating a life that arises from your own, deeper values combined with your own successes and failures, and this is exactly what makes the journey so deeply fulfilling.


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