Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen and Success

Self confidence is one of the keys to personal and professional success that I discuss in several of my books: Straight Talk for Success, Your Success GPS and 42 Rules to Jumpstart your Professional Success.  You can become self confident by doing three things.  First, choose optimism.  Believe in your heart of hearts that today will be better than yesterday, and that tomorrow will be better than today.  Second, face your fears and act.  Procrastination and inaction feed fear and rob you of self confidence.  Action cures fear.  Third, surround yourself with positive people.  Don’t let the naysayers into your life.  Hang around with people who are positive about themselves, their careers and life in general.

I was leading a workshop on career and life success the other day.  I mentioned that I think that self confidence is the hinge on which personal and professional success swings and that optimism is the most important ingredient in the self confidence mix.  For me, optimism begins with the ten points of The Optimist Creed.  I have given away a couple thousand copies of The Optimist Creed.  If you would like one, just go to

A couple of weeks ago, the PBS station in Denver aired a tribute concert for Pete Seeger that took place in Madison Square Garden on his 90th birthday with the support of some corporate event production.  In case you don’t know, Pete Seeger is a legendary folk singer and social activist.  All sorts of performers showed up to pay tribute to him.  Bruce Springsteen was the last performer.  Before he sang, he said a few words about Pete Seeger.  He characterized Pete as having a “stubborn, nasty and defiant optimism.”  I jumped up and grabbed a pencil to write that down.

“Stubborn, nasty, defiant optimism” – I like those words.  They apply to Pete Seeger.  He has been involved in all of the social change movements in the USA over the past 70 years.  And, if you’re a student of history, you know that most social change movements start out with little hope of success.  It takes a someone, or a group of someones, with a “stubborn, nasty, defiant optimism” to make it through the tough early days of social change and eventually triumph. defines Stubborn as “fixed or set in purpose or opinion; resolute.”  It says that the slang definition of nasty is “formidable.”  Defiant is defined as “boldly resistant or challenging.”  And, if you want to succeed in your life and career – to become a personal and professional success – you too need to develop your own stubborn, nasty, defiant optimism.

You need to become resolute in your belief in yourself and your ability to create the successful life and career you want and deserve.  You need to be formidable in the face of challenges, by facing your fears and acting.  You need to boldly resist the frustrations that can come from negative people.  You need to become a stubborn, nasty, defiant optimist if you want to become the personal and professional success you deserve to be.

The common sense point here is simple.  Successful people are self confident.  Self confident people are optimists.  Bruce Springsteen describes folk legend and social activist, Pete Seeger as a “stubborn, nasty, defiant optimist.”  Choose optimism, and your self confidence will soar.  Without optimism you won’t get very far in this life.  Once you choose optimism you’ll be on your way to creating the successful life and career you want and deserve.

That’s my take on Pete Seeger and optimism.  What’s yours?  Please take a few minutes to leave a comment sharing your thoughts with us.  As always, thanks for reading.


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