Bruce Lee's daughter on learning to 'flow' around hardship

"Be water, my friend." Bruce Lee's daughter Shannon reveals the action hero's philosophical side in a profound new podcast based on his values.
Shannon Lee in the arms of her father, movie legend, Bruce Lee. (Bruce Lee Enterprises, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)
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When you think of Bruce Lee, what do you imagine? Perhaps it's his lean, muscular body, his intense gaze, or his mastery of martial arts. 

But to the family of the athlete and film actor, who died in 1973, Bruce Lee was more than an action hero. He was a deep thinker and intellectual; someone who thought and wrote extensively about life, and how to live it.

Now his daughter, Shannon Lee, wants to help others experience her father's wisdom. Today she joins guest host Piya Chattopadhyay to discuss her new project, The Bruce Lee Podcast, and why she wants to reframe her father's legacy, elevating him from action star to philosopher in his own right.

Like father, like daughter

Yes, Bruce Lee was quite quotable, but it seems the apple didn't fall far from the tree. Here are just a few memorable things Shannon said during this interview. 

  • "I think the reason why his name is still so prevalent and known today is because of this extra depth that he had as a human being. It's what moves me about him."
  • "Being in relationship with others helps us know ourselves better."
  • On Bruce's attitude towards philosophy: "You can come up with all these great phrases, and great quotes and aphorisms. But if you're not applying them to yourself, if you're not living those things, if you're not putting them into action, then they're not really helping you." 
  • Quoting her father's recipe for self care: "The medicine for my suffering is within myself"
  • On the death of her father and brother: "The struggle through the grief was a huge growing process for me. There were gifts that came from it. I learned a lot about myself. I got into a mode very much like my father's own mode of seeking -- seeking solutions, seeking teachers, seeking information -- to try to alleviate my own suffering. Little by little, through that seeking, through listening to my own heart, through that desire to live, and to live a more joyful existence, I was able to grow so much as a human being and develop my own construct for what I wanted life to be"
  • On how Bruce handled stressful situations: "In his life, when things started to get frustrating, he would get quiet and he would sit back into that place of non-judgemental, open awareness and think 'Okay, how can I flow around this?'"
  • On Bruce's thoughts on success: "Knowing his own heart. Knowing what he was passionate about, what he wanted. Understanding that he had this energy inside of him that he wanted to manifest in some way in the world, through the lens of his heart and then pursuing that and cultivating that. For him, success began from that place." 
  • "When I have struggled with things like being Bruce Lee's daughter [laughs], it's his words that have guided me. His words that said that I just need to have faith in myself, believe in myself and express myself. I just need to be on the path to my own self-cultivation, my own self-actualisation. I'm not in this world to be him or to fill his shoes,my work is to fill my own shoes." 
Bruce Lee's daughter Shannon says her father's name is still so prevalent because of "the extra depth that he had as a human being. It's what moves me about him." (Bruce Lee Enterprises, LLC. All Rights Reserved.)

Shannon Lee joins guest host Piya Chattopadhyay from a studio at NPR West. (Sharon Lee)

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