"Status Quo? -- Hell No!"
Bruce Lee was never orthodox, but in sharp contrast, always the innovator. Lee defied convention and challenged the status quo in the martial art world. He set his face against the typical ranking system of various colored belts and sashes that existed in karate and gung fu. He got rid of traditional exotic uniforms and moved to modern athletic training attire. Disdaining the rote memorization and practice of esoteric martial art "forms" which he felt were useless and a waste of time, he instead directed his energy and focus toward real-world functionality and effectiveness.
Lee's actions put him at odds with members of both the American and Chinese martial art communities who, at the time, resented his iconoclastic attitude. For such a young man to stand up and speak out against thousands of years of tradition and venerated authority did not sit well with them and was viewed as a direct threat to the status quo and its entrenched power base. His teaching disturbed many martial art practitioners by upsetting the set patterns of training and causing people to reconsider the blind acceptance of philosophical tenets.
Lee also challenged the status quo of the Chinese film industry. In the world of film, prior to Lee's innovative fight action choreography, Asian kung fu films were largely swordplay films involving elaborate, long drawn-out fight sequences with one man usually fighting 10 to 30 others, and in which the guy gets hit a hundred times and is still able to get up and go at it. After viewing the top-grossing films released by Golden Harvest Films, Lee's response to Raymond Chow, the company president, was, "Is that the best you can do? -- I can do better." And he did just that, shattering box-office records in Hong Kong, creating a new genre of fight action flms, and becoming a cinematic superstar.
Status quo refers to the "existing state of affairs." Innovators are constanly challenging the status quo. They are constantly asking why things aren't done differently and constantly trying to improve things, even things that don't seem to be broken. Innovators want to learn how things are, why they are that way, and how they might be changed for the better.
If we are seriously interested in personal growth and liberation, we, like Bruce Lee and other renowned innovators such as Steve Jobs and Dean Kamen must be ready and willing to step up and challenge the status quo if we believe it is necessary.
"Challenging the status quo" can relate to two different things. The first is that you can challenge the status quo with regard to yourself (such thngs as where you currently are physically or mentally, increasing your knowledge base, your way of doing things, or a particular belief, etc.). The second is that you can challenge the status quo with regard to something in the world around you (your neighborhood, state, for example), or even something internationally. Perhaps it's something to do with poverty, education, or some form of injustice.
There are various reasons we should challenge the status quo. We should challenge the status quo because this is how new ideas blossom and growth and innovation happen. We should challenge the status quo because what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow or be suitable to work tomorrow. We should challenge the status quo because we feel we have ideas that could help better the future of our lives and the lives of others.
Challenging the status quo is not about being a jerk. It's not about doing it just for the sake of it or simply to rebel; but rather to forge change. Which should make sure that our intentions are true and that we are truly seeking positive change or growth of ome kind.
It's important to understand that if you challenge the status quo you are inevitably going to step on some people's toes and piss some people off. You will be criticized and told no. But great people don't allow 'no' to stop them. You cannot be afraid of polarizing people or of generating strong emotions. It's going to happen, but you cannot let it hold you back.
It can become very easy to be satisfied with the status quo. In an oral history review for the Smithsonian Institue in 1995, Steve Jobs commented -- "One of the things that happens in organizations as well as with people is that they settle into ways of looking at the world and become satisfied with things. And the world changes and keeps evolving and new potential arises but these people who are settled in don't see it."
Bruce Lee refused to be content with the status quo when it came to martial arts and cinema. We should likewise refuse to be content with the status quo when it comes to our own lives. Like the title of this blog says -- "Status Quo? -- Hell No!"
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