The reason why alot of people relate learning of how to live with the learning of gong fu, is because every barrier, bottle neck, and lesson learned in gong fu, is found in your real personal life too. If you can overcome it in martial arts, then you can over come it in life. Also, gong fu is about perfecting certain aspects of yourself, that never ceases, so is life (to some). How effective gong fu is, is totally up to you, and not the style nor techniques. With the right outlook, you can make anything work.
If you learn who you are, and what you are capable of, and are not bound by thoughts of "what should be" or "how-to," then you should have the ability to use your tools to overcome adversity. Fighting skill is a direct reflection of your spiritual and mental progression, good technique and fancy form, while necessary, is superficial alone, there must be substance. Learn for every action you make a direct reaction of your enviornment/opponent, nothing more, nothing less.
Truth comes from the absolute stillness of the mind...