What Linsanity Teaches Us About Career Success

If you read this career advice blog with any regularity you know that I am a sports fan.  While I was a rugby player for many years, I also spent a lot of time playing pickup basketball.  I really like watching the game too – both college and professional.

On Sunday I watched the New York Knicks beat the defending NBA champion Dallas mavericks.  I got caught up in Linsanity.  If you don’t know, Linsanity is all about a young player for the Knicks, Jeremy Lin.  He is the first Chinese (Taiwanese) American born player to play in the NBA.  He also has a degree in Economics from Harvard.  On Sunday, against Dallas scored 28 points, had 14 assists, and played over 45 minutes.

Since he’s joined the Knicks, they are 7 and 1.  He’s scored over 20 points in each game.  He’s also had a couple of game winning shots.  Jeremy Lin’s Linsanity is this NBA season’s  Tebowmania.  It’s a very cool story.  Here’s a guy who played college ball at Harvard, a school unlikely to get into the Final Four.  He graduated.  He didn’t get drafted by any NBA team.  He was cut by two NBA teams before he caught on with the Knicks.  On Sunday, Spike Lee showed up courtside at Madison Square Garden wearing a replica of Lin’s Harvard jersey.

Through all the ups and down, Jeremy Lin stayed optimistic.  He is the personification of the career success advice in the Optimist Creed.   I have The Optimist Creed hanging in my office. I like it so much that I have created a .pdf of it and give it away to my career success coach clients. You can get a free copy to hang in your office at https://budbilanich.com/optimist. Check it out…

The Optimist Creed

Promise Yourself:

  • To be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
  • To talk health, happiness and prosperity to every person you meet.
  • To make all your friends feel that there is something in them.
  • To look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.
  • To think only of the best, to work only for the best, and to expect only the best.
  • To be just as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
  • To forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
  • To wear a cheerful countenance at all times and give every living creature you meet a smile.
  • To give so much time to the improvement of yourself that you have no time to criticize others.
  • To be too large for worry, too noble for anger, too strong for fear, and too happy to permit the presence of trouble.

Jeremy Lin is the Optimist Creed in action.  I think that the fourth point, “Promise yourself to look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true,” is especially true in his case.  Granted it’s a little easier to look at the sunny side of things when you have a degree from Harvard.  But if you really want to play in the NBA, that Harvard degree can be small consolation.

Optimists think of the glass as half full. A couple of years ago, Cathy and I saw a stage production of the Irving Berlin classic film musical, White Christmas, at the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. There is a number in the show where one of the leading men is comforting a small girl who is having trouble sleeping. In a song, he tells her, “When you can’t sleep, count your blessings, not sheep.” On the way home, we were talking about that song. We know that we are blessed. However, sometimes we forget how much we are blessed. We both decided that we would begin counting our blessings when we felt a little down and depressed.

Counting your blessings and not sheep is a great first step to “look at the sunny side of everything and make your optimism come true.” Realizing that you are blessed and that there is a sunny side is a good first step. However, don’t forget the second part of the quote – “make your optimism come true.”

These last five words are what’s key here. If you want to become the career success you deserve to be, you not only need to be optimistic. You need to do the work necessary to make your optimism come true. That’s practical optimism.  And that’s Jeremy Lin.  He wasn’t drafted by an NBA team.  He was cut to by two of them.  But he kept working and improving his game.  Now he is the toast of New York.

Optimism can put you on the path to success, but hard work is will keep you moving forward. In my book, Straight Talk for Success: Common Sense Ideas That Won’t Let You Down, I talk about the importance of taking personal responsibility for your life and career success.

“It’s simple, really. Career success is all up to you, and me, and anyone else who wants it. We all have to take personal responsibility for our own career success. I am the only one who can make me a career success. You are the only one who can make you a career success.

“Personal responsibility means recognizing that you are responsible for your life and the choices you make. It means that you realize that while other people and events have an impact on your life, these people and events don’t shape your life. When you accept personal responsibility for your life and career success, you own up to the fact that how you react to people and events is what’s important. And you can choose how you react to every person you meet and everything that happens to you.”

The career success coach point here is simple common sense. Optimism coupled with hard work can help you make your life and career success dreams come true. Just ask Jeremy Lin, the newest NBA superstar.  If you want to create the life and career success you deserve, you need to be like Jeremy Lin.  Become a practical optimist. Pay attention to point four in The Optimist Creed. Look at the sunny side of things. Count your blessings. See the glass as half full. Then, take personal responsibility for doing the work necessary to make your optimism and career success dreams come true. Optimism is a great career success catalyst, but it alone will not guarantee your life and career success. You have to do the work – no two ways about it.

That’s my career advice on being a practical optimist. What do you think? Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment. As always thanks for reading my musings on life and career success. I value you and I appreciate you.


PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained. One is 140 bits of career advice, all in 140 characters or less. The other is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail. Go to http://budurl.com/STExp to claim your free copy. You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site on last September. It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations. You can find out about the membership site by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


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  1. Well said. I like “The Optimist Creed”. I belive the optimosm will result positive energy to others as well.
    Thanks for the article.

  2. Glad you liked the article. Jeremy Lin is the Optimist Creed in action.
    He had a tough game against Miami tonight, but he’ll bounce back.

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