Hump Day Inspiration: A man must constantly exceed his level…

This inspiring story is about Bruce Lee, a legendary martial art master.  From: The Art of Expressing the Human Body.  (Bruce Lee, John Little).

Here’s a few excerpts:

“Lee realized early on that in order for us to fulfill our physical potential, we had to approach our exercise endeavors progressively and fight against the desire to pack it all in and retire to the sofa and the television where we could escape from our ‘duty’ of self-actualization by partaking in its opposite – that is, shutting off our minds and allowing our muscles to atrophy. Lee wanted to learn as much about his mind and body as possible. He wanted to know what he was truly capable of, rather than settling for what he already knew he could accomplish. To this end, he viewed each training session as a learning experience, an opportunity for improvement to take himself to a new level. As a result, he had a keen eye for spotting people who were selling themselves short by either slacking off in their training or by underestimating what their true capabilities were.

Stirling Silliphant (a student of Lee’s) related an interesting story that perfectly embodies Lee’s attitude toward progressive resistance in cardiovascular training, as well as his refusal to let a person – in this case Silliphant – underestimate his own physical potential:”

“Bruce had me up to three miles a day, really at a good pace. We’d run the three miles in twenty-one or twenty-two minutes. Just under eight minutes a mile.  [Note: when running on his own in 1968, Lee would get his time down to six-and-a half minutes per mile].

So this morning he said to me “We’re going to go five.”  I said, “Bruce, I can’t go five. I’m a helluva lot older than you are, and I can’t do five.” He said, “When we get to three, we’ll shift gears and it’s only two more and you’ll do it.”

I said “Okay, hell, I’ll go for it.”  So we get to three, we go into the fourth mile and I’m okay for three or four minutes, and then I really begin to give out.  I’m tired, my heart’s pounding, I can’t go any more and so I say to him, “Bruce if I run any more (and we’re still running) liable to have a heart attack and die.”

He said, “Then die.” It made me so mad that I went the full five miles.

Afterward I went to the shower and then I wanted to talk to him about it. I said, you know, “Why did you say that?”

He said, “Because you might as well be dead. Seriously, if you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A man must constantly exceed his level.”


  1. Post inspired by: Ah Randomness
  2. Image shared with permission by Dave Benning.  Thank you.


  1. Beautiful sentiments. But these were the words of a master. How about us poor little things that are stuck in a rut. Every day — same old stuff. Stand back Marge! Get my Superman cape. I’m going up on the roof and see if my affirmations are working yet.


  2. Wow – this i why I couldn’t have a sensai like Bruce. Brilliant motivator, conviction behind his words and the words ring true. But sometimes I think you have to know what you’re willing to die for – and for me it wouldn’t be a faster run mile. I appreciate that he is generalizing the overall surrender to all things, but I’m not sure that in and of itself is true. Regardless, I’ll just keep you as my virtual sensai and that way I don’t have to worry about keeping over dead – I just have to worry about having to keep up with your fascinating, smart head! 🙂


  3. sorry – I meant ‘keeling’ not ‘keeping’… and forgot the ‘s’ in the first sentence. I’m motivated to get more coffee and I will relentlessly seek my goal right now.


  4. Legacy Uprise says:

    I can only imagine the amount of growth we would have if we kept this frame of mind everyday. I will do my best to think this way from now on, tomorrow is never promised.


  5. Phenomenal post! Love Bruce Lee and he really tested the limits of what’s possible. Thank you for sharing!


  6. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Great post from Lead. Learn. Live. This is a must read!


  7. Reblogged this on Tazromagna's Blog.


  8. Reblogged this on Lara: On the Weigh Down and commented:
    This is so important! How many times have we let “I can’t” win? I can’t get to the gym, I don’t have time for a work out, I can’t lift a heavier weight, I can’t walk/jog/run any further. Read the most important paragraph at the end. Maybe print it out and put it somewhere you’ll read it. We don’t have to be “super-people” to test our limits and move beyond them. We just have to be willing to quit letting excuses and “I can’t” get in our way! (If you enjoy this, check out “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield. His DVD is so inspiring and he has a book/workbook combo as well.) Happy Hump Day!


  9. Hey, I would much rather die exceeding my level than just stay the same! Bruce Lee ROCKED!




  11. Bruce Lee was the man.


  12. The thing is WE are the ones that hold WE up. Nobody can let us down like we can.

    Great post.


  13. Reblogged this on little box of books.


  14. Excellent post, David! Thanks for sharing!


  15. Loved the post. I would really like to have the book.
    I think to excel in anything we should study our self first then the rest.


  16. David, I loved this story… truly inspirational!! Thanks for posting and associating my artwork with such great words of motivation!


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