The other day, while listening to a biography of Bruce Lee, I came across this gem of a line.
Context: Bruce Lee went to an American university in the 1960s. Activism was in the air… but he had no part of it.
And I quote:
“His focus was on the personal, not the political. Self-improvement, not social change. Making himself better… not making the world a better place.”
The author describes this as a ‘curious oversight’ – especially because, as an American citizen, he could have been drafted at any moment.
I don’t see that as an oversight.
I see it as wisdom personified.
Sure, activism has its place. You can add your voice to a million others, all demanding change.
Maybe something will even come of it.
Either way, the better option is to focus on the personal, not the politics.
That’s not selfish, it’s science. The millionth person to join a cause adds 0.0001% to it. But someone who becomes a more impressive person becomes more influential. Folks admire Martin Luther King Jr – not because he had noble beliefs, but because he had epic-tier influence skills.
Now, there is always a need for followers. No leader can change anything in a vacuum.
But the leaders always add more to their cause than one extra pair of boots in the streets.
Or, in modern parlance – the author of the tweet, not the millionth person to retweet it.
To follow a cause without working on yourself is selfish. You could do so much more if you bothered to grow. After all, Aristotle said the best form of influence is to have strong character. It turns out Bruce Lee thought the same way, sharpening his body and mind instead of yelling into the streets.
And I wonder who improved the world more – and who better defied the evils of the time – Bruce Lee, or random hippie #825072?
If this offends you, be sure to yell at me on social media and I’ll drink in the irony.
But if this makes sense to you, though?
If you see self-work as the harder, better and more effective form of protest?
Then I have just the thing for you: