Be Water, My Friend

written by Shannon Lee

|finished reading on December 5th, 2020

I've been a fan of Bruce Lee for as long as I can remember. My father was a big fan of Green Hornet when I was growing up. The only thing I remember from that show is the character Bruce Lee played: Kato. I had no idea what kung fu was. I had no idea who Bruce Lee was. But for me, he was the star of the show.

Last year I read Bruce Lee: A Life by Matthew Polly. It was an exceptional lens into the life of Bruce Lee. A life that was rich, inspiring, and one that ended far too early. It's hard not to be inspired by the things Bruce Lee accomplished in his short time on Earth. He achieved incredible mastery over who he was, a "human, fully expressed."

I have to admit, my admiration for Bruce Lee probably adds an extra star onto this review. Be Water, My Friend actually starts off quite strong. Shannon does a great job distilling written work from Bruce Lee and turning them into consumable chapters of self-help material. It's not all that surprising that the ideas aren't entirely original (what is these days?) as Bruce Lee talked strongly about taking ideas and turning them into your own. He appears to have been quite the master in that regard.

Shannon weaves many practical stories into the philosophical lessons throughout the book. Some come from Bruce Lee's life and some come from here own. This is pretty common with self-help literature. I think it lends to the humanity behind the lessons and serves to drive the lessons home. The stories from Bruce Lee's life certainly aren't as extensive as in Matthew Polly's book but that shouldn't be expected.

The book loses a bit of momentum in the closing chapters. That being said, it was a quick, enjoyable read. I'm happy I picked it up because, like I mentioned, I'm bound to enjoy work related to Bruce Lee. It's been 47 years since he walked the Earth and he continues to influence people around the world.


  • Practice awareness
    • You cannot control your reactions to life if you are living unconsciously
  • Remain flexible
    • The only constant in life is change, so we should always be changing too
    • Always strive to be open to the experiences around us
  • Create your purpose
    • We don't have a purpose given to us at birth, it is our responsibility to give ourselves one
  • Focus on yourself
    • Forget what other people think of you
    • Keep yourself accountable
    • Always try to better yourself
    • Always try to better yourself

Notes on Be Water, My Friend

The Bruce Lee Company on Twitter (run by Shannon Lee)

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