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Meet Bruce Lee, personal growth guru

(MoneyWatch) COMMENTARY A list of the best personal development gurus of all time would have to include Dale Carnegie, Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins and Bruce Lee. The last name is not a typo. The late film star, who died in 1973, is of course known for his martial arts films and for creating a fighting style called Jeet Kune Do. But if you study his philosophy, he was also a deep thinker and knew what was required to become successful.

Let's look at a few of his quotes to see how they can help you live a better, fuller, richer life.

Achieve your biggest goals

"If you always put limit[s] on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there -- you must go beyond them."

If you talk to any extreme endurance athlete, they will tell you emphatically that the key to success lies in their mind, not their bodies. Their bodies will succumb to the pain if and only if their minds allow it to. They will condition their minds as much as their bodies because they know if they allow a single thought of doubt or weakness, the game is over. In what areas in your life do you feel stuck? What can you do right now that will help you push forward?

Secret to getting anything you want in life

"If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you'll never get it done."

The most successful people are often not the smartest, because when you are "smart" you of course need to calculate, analyze and ponder before embarking on a new goal or tackling a project. Those of us who aren't Mensa members don't feel compelled to cogitate quite so hard, so we just get started. Lee's principle is more true today than when he said it. We have access to so much more information than ever before, yet we now seem to need turn-by-turn navigation for everything in our life or we feel naked. We couldn't possibly just start, could we?

"To hell with circumstances; I create opportunities."

We are experiencing a deficit of personal responsibility. There will always be 1,000 reasons why you can't do something, why it's not your fault and why you should blame others for your situation. That's easy. Three-year-old children have already mastered this. The greatest gift you can give yourself is to fully accept responsibility in every area of your life.

Unhappy in your relationship? You can continue to blame your partner, but 20 years will pass and you'll still be unhappy and you'll still be blaming her. Finances in shambles? You can blame politicians, the economy, and Wall Street bankers, but doing so will never help you improve your money situation. That's the funny thing about blame and responsibility. Who to blame is a whole lot less important than what must be done to resolve the problem -- and that requires you taking full responsibility.

How to invest your time and energy for maximum success

"The successful warrior is the average man, with laser-like focus."

Think about the most successful people you know personally. Is there anything special about them? Probably not. What makes them unique is that they invested time, energy and focus in a particular area. Find your niche and specialize. Use your other eight hours to become the best in the world in that area. You can be average at 99 percent of your job, but if you excel at the right 1 percent you will be a superstar and will never have to worry about job security.

"I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."

Invest your time and energy into a narrow niche. Don't be all things to all people -- that is a prescription for mediocrity. What's the one area you can master? This is where you should start your 10,000 "kicks."

Bruce Lee -- martial artist, actor, personal growth master. His philosophy is timeless, as is his approach to creating a better life. For him, there was only one direction -- forward. Another quote of his: "Be happy, but never satisfied." Well said, Bruce.

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