You know how I like to think of myself? As a human being.
For Bruce Lee, it was important to identify himself as a human first before any race, gender or ethnicity. By emphasizing his humanity over anything else, it helped him transcend social and cultural barriers and at the same time, it allowed him to think broadly and to have his philosophy be attainable to any individual.
However, Bruce Lee’s goal wasn’t simply to be human. Rather, it was to be a human of “quality”.
The function and duty of a human being, a “quality” human being, that is, is the sincere and honest development of potential and self-actualization.
Self-actualization means to achieve one’s full potential through creativity, independence, spontaneity, and a grasp of the real world. Simply put, to become the best version of yourself.
In order to fulfill one’s own potential, it is important to hone the ability to self-reflect. Self-reflection can allow us to detach momentarily. To see our own flaws and limitations so we know the areas we need to improve or strengthen.
We can ask ourselves: What habits do we need to break? What habits do we need to start? Where do we lack knowledge? Are we too passive? What part of our life requires immediate action?
For Bruce Lee, his goal was to actualize himself and he believed that should be the goal of all humans.
To promote the growth process and develop human potential:
To get through social role playing
To fill in the holes in the personality to make [one] whole and complete again.
The social role-playing part is important as well. We are social creatures and we have to do well by our community. It’s not a selfish attitude that Bruce Lee advocated but rather he believed in actualizing ourselves by performing our social duties to the best of our ability while improving upon our flaws. Both can go hand in hand. If we become the best version of ourselves then the ripple effects of that are felt by our friends, families and the community we live in. At the same time, by dedicating ourselves to being a productive member of society, it can help move us closer to our ideal state.
What the hell; you are what you are, and self-honesty occupies a definite and vital part in the ever-growing process to become a “real” human being and not a plastic one. Somehow, one day, you will hear “hey, now that’s quality; here is someone REAL.” I’d like that.
The key to being a quality human being is self-honesty. If we lie to ourselves and run away from who we currently are then there can be no improvement. Other people can point out our flaws but it’s easy to rationalize that truth and act as if other people are wrong. It’s also important to understand that who we currently are isn’t what we have to be. Bruce Lee also advocated constant change and this change has to come from within. We can only improve and grow if we wish to and in order to do this, we need to be honest with ourselves. Brutally honest about somethings. It can be uncomfortable to pick at our own flaws but there really is no other way to inch towards self-actualization. There needs to be constant ownership and accountability of our own actions. Perhaps in this manner, one day, someone can look at us and say “here is someone real,” just as Bruce Lee was.
Book referenced: Bruce Lee Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living