Written by Bruce Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, Be Water, My Friend goes into Bruce Lee’s philosophy of martial arts, and his philosophy of life, which is often powerfully expressed via his famous water metaphor.
Water always keeps going, is always looking for an opportunity to move forward, and is never in a hurry. Water is always relaxed and ready, willing to adapt and flow. Given enough time, it wears down the very stone of the Earth and ultimately prevails even against solid rock.
I wouldn’t say this is a spectacular book, but it’s very well worth reading if you’re a fan of Bruce Lee as I am. Even if you’re not, there’s probably an insight or two in here for you. The audio version was read by her, which I did actually enjoy. She’s obviously quite devoted to her father, and today, she’s tasked with preserving his memory.
Below is a collection of my best notes that I’ve taken from Be Water, My Friend, but with very little additional commentary from me. You can find the rest of my notes from this book here, and my list of best/favorite books here.
Now, let’s jump into the water!
The best ideas all in one place
“Bruce Lee doesn’t want you to be Bruce Lee. He wants you to be you.”
“Water always chooses keep going, whenever it has the opportunity.”
“You can’t choose your response if you don’t even see that there are choices to be made.”
“Water is always relaxed, but ready.”
Water always adopts a complete and effortless response to its environment.
To “actualize” is to make something a reality. So, to “self-actualize” is to make oneself a reality.
No surprise: Krishnamurti was one of Bruce Lee’s favorite philosophers! He also read Alan Watts!
Since learning is boundless, so is our potential.
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
“I’m just a reflection of you.”
“Action is a high-road to self-confidence.”
“The tools are not meant to make your life easy.”
“No one is defeated unless they have accepted defeat as a reality in their mind.”
Every response to an outside event is just one option among many. We can always choose our respond, instead of falling back on our habitual, unhelpful responses.
“If you love life, do not waste time. Time is what life is made of.”
The whole problem is that we don’t realize that there is no problem. Therefore, there’s also no solution.
“How you treat anyone is how you treat everyone.”
“If everyone would help their neighbor, no one would be without help.”
I don’t think this is the “definitive book on Bruce Lee” or anything, but it’s a very helpful resource, and written with loving care by his daughter, which lends some weight to the book of course.
Bruce Lee is one of my biggest role models when it comes to self-discipline, and much of what I am today I owe to people like him who have shown me part of what’s possible.
And for my updated reading list, along with my top book recommendations separated by genre, you can go here. If you like books like this one today, you’re bound to find something you like there.
All the best,
P.S. Here is a reading list of 50+ books to take your life to the next level, and I’d also like to give you my Top 20 Unconventional Reading Strategies for free.