Bruce Lee: The 1st Essentialist to Inspire Me to Be Great

by | June 3, 2021

Several people have inspired me throughout my life – most of them not “famous” at all.  If I were to choose one famous historical figure who has inspired me, it would be Bruce Lee.

The reasons he inspires me may not be what one expects to see listed in such writing as this.  Most would expect that I would go on about how he overcame racism, lack of opportunities and all manner of obstacles to become one of the most fantastic action movie stars of all time.  Or how he displayed inclusiveness in his relationships with friends and students.  They would cite how he had friends and students of many different ethnic and racial backgrounds when the Chinese community in America was very insular and strictly forbade the teaching of Chinese martial arts to those of non-Chinese ethnicity.

They would be right to mention all of these inspiring traits, behaviours, and actions on Bruce Lee’s part, but these things still do not touch upon the main reason that Bruce Lee is an inspiration to me.

Why Bruce Lee inspires me

You see, I’m a mildly obsessed martial arts enthusiast and practitioner; thus, Bruce Lee’s inspiration for me lies squarely in the realm of martial arts

Bruce was the first to see the value in studying all martial-combat arts.  He would distill much of what he learned from these martial arts into more fundamental principles, practices, and techniques. His guiding principle in this exploration of multiple martial arts was: “The two most important aspects of martial arts are ‘the essence’ and ‘the practical usage.’” (Lee, 1997, p. 48)

In a sense, Bruce Lee was the first mixed martial artist.

His emphasis on getting to the heart of matters, especially concerning martial arts, has inspired me to see the vital few (based on the Pareto 80/20 principle) and the underlying principles of any activity. 

Bruce was an essentialist before Greg Mckeown ever coined that term.

Thank you Bruce!


Lee, B.  (1997) Jeet Kune Do, Bruce Lee’s Commentaries On The Martial Way, ed. John Little. Boston, MA: Tuttle Publishing.