Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Absorb what is useful

Bruce Lee is often quoted as saying "Absorb what is useful". But what does that mean exactly?

First of all, do not mistake this with "collect what you think is cool." or "do what you like". Absorb means absorb, not look at, read about or play with. It takes a LOT of effort to absorb something. It requires study, discipline and patience.

Let's look at the ENTIRE quote: "Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless, and add what is uniquely your own."

Here is how I make it work for me.

1. Decide what you want to do.

2. Find someone who is accomplished at what you want to do. Do what they did. Copy them until you get results.

3. Fine tune your approach as you figure out WHY it works and can explain it clearly and concisely. It is only at this point have you truly begun to "absorb" the material.

4. Continue to refine your behavior to match your goal, elimnating anything that is counterproductive or non-essential.

4. Learn to create variations based on your true understanding and knowledge of self. This is harder than it sounds. It requires an honesty of self that is so uncomfortable for most people that they give up.

5. Innovate. Make it your own. Completely your own.

Find something useful in this. Absorb it. Take action.


Mark Reifkind said...

perfect. I love that list.especially the part about finding someone who is doing what you want to do and then copying them. thats exactly what I did throughout my entire competitive career.start at the top and work down.
if you can't do what they have done notch your way down the level until you find the level you CAN do. and then start back up to the top.
and then you have to tailor make it to your own strengths weaknesses and need.this really took me awhile. always trying to be 'perfect'can hold you back sometimes;especially when it doesnt fit you.
great post man.

Mark Toomey said...

I thought you were at your best when you made me laugh. Then, I thought you were at your best when you showed me your courage. Now, you made me think, and I realize you're always at your best because you'll give what you have to us. I'm glad I know you, Dave.

Doug said...

Great talking to you today. That needs to be a more regular thing.

william said...

This is why sometimes it's good to not be as young as you used to be...

Mark Lehmkuhl said...


That is about as reasonable an explanation of steps to success than I can fathom. Great incite. I especially like "eliminate anything counterproductive and nonessential". That falls in line with a recent experience of mine.

Awesome stuff. See you on USC forum.