Letters of the Dragon
When I was nine, I went through the (somewhat) normal phase of developing a somewhat unhealthy obsession with martial arts. I would spend hours watching Chinese cinema and old classics such as "Enter the Dragon" which would eventually lead to my fascination with the life of Bruce Lee.
It was a few years after the release of "The Crow" and the controversy over the untimely death of his son, Brandon. Bruce Lee was before my time, and as he was one of my mother's favourite actors, she had no problem with a nine-year-old immersing himself in the world of Jeet-Kune-Do and violence - in fact, she encouraged my fascination.
Here, almost twenty years later, I understand the wonderful parenting decision my mother made that almost every teacher (who knew about my latest interest at the time) found unhealthy and indicative of poor parenting. Lee has become a cultural icon and a modern day philosophers, inspiring millions of people with his interviews, quotes, and excerpts. Three years ago when we launched Archibald, his quote from the video below was the first thing you would see on our "about page" (and then, of course, I was persuaded to remove it because of the brand implications of doing so) - however to this day it represents an internal philosophy that we have tried to instantiate at every touch point of the brand both behind the scenes and in our dealings with customers.
Last Christmas, her present for me was a book entitled " Bruce Lee: Letters of the dragon " and it has quickly become a major referencing point. Bruce Lee achieved success and trained himself through dedication and hard work to become exactly what he wanted to be. Below is a letter that I think should be read by every single person entering the workforce and perhaps every single person with a "dream" that they wish to pursue. It represents the type of determination, confidence, and strength one needs to have in order to effectively chase their dreams.
This letter was written to his beloved Pear in 1969 (Bruce Lee was 28 years old) have gone through and highlighted in bold the parts that are particularly inspiring for me.
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 for 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 domination 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 the 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.
Whether it is the God-head or not, I feel this great force, this unstopped power, this dynamic something within me. This feeling defies description, and [there is] no experience with which this feeling may be compared. It is something like a strong emotion mixed with faith, but a lot stronger.
All in all, the goal of my planning and doing is to find the true meaning in life — peace of mind. I know that the sum of all the possessions I mentioned does not necessarily add up to peace of mind; however, it can be if I devote [my energy] to the real accomplishment of self rather than neurotic combat. In order to achieve this peace of mind, the teaching of detachment of Taoism and Zen proved to be valuable….
Probably, people will say I’m too conscious of success. Well, I am not. You see, my will to do springs from the knowledge that I CAN DO. I’m only being natural, for there is no fear or doubt inside my mind.
Pearl, success comes to those who become success conscious. If you don’t aim at an object, how the heck on earth do you think you can get it?