A Man Must Constantly Exceed His Level

Morning Story and Dilbert

Vintage Dilbert
August 16, 2008

“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-” if I run any more I’m 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.”


From The Art of Expressing the Human Body
By Bruce Lee, John Little


  1. Colin said:

    Load of crap, and not worthy of this blog…


  2. jgmtheo said:

    Physically that could be dangerous to some, but the idea of “pressing forward” striving to achieve” not “giving up easily” coupled with “realistic expectations” is a good idea. We need to “stretch ourselves” in all directions, that’s is essential, but to say that we “might as well be dead” is surely a step to far; as tomorrow you might be better motivated than today and “achieve the impossible” in others eyes. Far more important, should we not say “Tomorrow, if the Lord Wills, we shall do such and such” To put self endeavour before a humble dependence on God has got to a sad mistake !


    • Thank you for your comment! This is exactly what I wanted to see! My prayer is that all readers will see your comment!!!!

      PS: I was trying to reply from a mobile devise and my fingers touch the wrong area of the screen..:-)

      Take Care and God Bless 🙂 Kenny T


  3. Reblogged this on God's group and commented:
    As Christians, we do need to look beyond our own mortal capabilities, to allow the Holy Spirit to empower us with God’s full potential for our lives !!
    Blessings in Christ, bruce


  4. As Christians, we do need to look beyond our own mortal capabilities, to allow the Holy Spirit to empower us with God’s full potential for our lives !!

    Blessings i Christ, bruce


  5. Great blog post. Really inspired by it. I have a lot of areas in my life where I have settled instead of moving forward.


  6. I didn’t take it literally…just a push to motivate the dead “inside” of us, rather than a physical death.


  7. kimetzel84 said:

    I often feel like I’m gonna die. But I’ve been running for a long time, and you know what? I’ve never died. I have to remind myself that my body can take so much more than I realize. Very inspirational. Thanks for sharing!


  8. I agree with jgmtheo above: this story perfectly illustrates Paul’s statement, “I press on…straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:12-14). Paul constantly pushed himself to live a life pleasing to God, and to reach as many people as possibe with the gospel. He never rested on the accomplishments he had already achieved. Paul is a perfect example of someone who constantly exceeded his level. And he’s an example worth following (v. 17)


  9. Sherri said:

    I love this post! When it comes to tough situations, it is so easy to doubt oneself and give up. Sometimes we just forget how strong we really are.


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