Perpetual Optimism and Self Confidence

Today is Monday, so this post is on self confidence.

As you know self confident people have three things in common.

  • Self confident people are optimistic.
  • Self confident people confront their fears and deal with them.
  • Self confident people surround themselves with positive people.

The other day, I say an interesting quote on optimism from Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman or the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the US Armed Forces. 

“Perpetual optimism is a force modifier.”

I like this quote – it suggests that we need to be optimistic all the time – not just some of the time.  It is easy to be optimistic when things are going well.  It is not so easy to be optimistic when the going gets tough.

If you’re a basketball fan, you know that the NBA Finals are going on right now.  San Antonio is leading Cleveland 2 – 0 in a best of seven series. Bruce Bowen plays for the San Antonio Spurs.  Mr. Bowen is a living example of Mr. Powell’s quote on optimism.

Bruce Bowen was born into a tough situation.  His father is an alcoholic.  His mother is addicted to crack cocaine. They divorced when he was two years old.  He played college basketball at a small school – Cal State, Fullerton.  He wasn’t drafted by the NBA, so he went to France where he played for three different professional teams.  In 1997, he was signed to a 10 day contract – one in which he was filling in for an injured player – by the Miami Heat.  He also played briefly with the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics before being resigned by Miami for the 2000-2001 season.  That year, he played in all 82 games and was named to the NBA all-defensive team.  San Antonio offered him a contract for the 2001-2002 season.  He has been there ever since, and has been a part of two NBA championship teams. 

It took Mr. Bowen seven years after college to fulfill his dream of being a steady player on an NBA team.  Gregg Popovich, Mr. Bowen’s coach, says “(Bruce Bowen) is a great story because he’s the kind of guy who doesn’t have the talent that some of the other players have, but he has perseverance.  He understands his strengths and weaknesses and works at it – month in and month out, year in and year out.  He did whatever it took to find a team that can appreciate what he can do.”  R.C. Buford, the General Manager of the Spurs, says “he’s (Mr. Bowen) is the most driven guy I’ve ever seen.  It’s all self  made, from every level”.

Mr. Bowen’s story is amazing.  While people often comment on his will and his perseverance, I believe that there is an underlying level of perpetual optimism there too. 

It has been a struggle for Mr. Bowen to fulfill his dream of playing in the NBA.  Yet, he struggled along.  Now, he has been a big part of two NBA championship teams, and is two wins away from a third championship.  He has been named to the NBA all defensive team the past six years.

Without the “force modifier” of perpetual optimism I don’t see how Mr. Bowen could have accomplished what he has done. 

One more common sense point — while optimism and self confidence are important to career and life success, outstanding performance is also important.  Mr. Bowen did the work.  He is not just confident in his abilities, he is an outstanding performer on the basketball court.  Other people are confident in his abilities because of his performance.

I was happy to do this post on Mr. Bowen, because I always cheer for the underdog.  However, there is another side to Mr. Bowen that I think deserves mentioning here.  He is a good guy.  He gives back.  Mr. Bowen runs the “Elf Louise program” to provide Christmas gifts to kids whose families are not financially able to provide them.  The Bruce Bowen Foundation provides scholarships and tuition to “help those less fortunate”.  He runs the GET FIT with Bruce and Buddy program to help fight childhood obesity, and he hosts free youth basketball camps in his hometown of Fresno, CA.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense.  Check out my other blog: for common sense advice on leading people and running a small business.

I’ll see you around the web, and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand – my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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