The Bruce Springsteen Approach to Success
I was updating my website this week and I added this quote from Bruce Springsteen to one of the pages. You might, or might not, know that I’m a big fan, and these words sum up why I think Bruce’s approach to success (and life!) is spot on.
“I feel like to do my job right, when I walk out onstage I’ve got to feel like it’s the most important thing in the world. I’ve also got to feel like, well, it’s only rock and roll. Somehow I’ve got to believe both of those things.”
The Most Important Thing in the World
When we do anything, whether it’s playing with our children, spending time with our partner, or working on important, world-changing activities, we want to give it everything we have. In that moment, it’s the most important thing in the world.
Only Rock ‘n’ Roll
And yet… many of those who are at the pinnacle of their success have a lightness about their way of being, a humility, a lack of ego about their work and their performance.
The “it’s only rock and roll” approach.
Being able to hold both of these approaches at the same time — living the duality — is the place where ultimate high performance comes from.
It’s the place where resilience, flow, creativity, the ability to solve complex problems with a clear mind, the capacity to create and maintain strong relationships, leadership, and all those qualities we admire and seek come from.
That magical place where we can be serious about the important things in life, but where we don’t take ourselves too seriously.
You can run a country; hold the life of another person in your hands as a doctor or a surgeon; be an educator for an enquiring young mind; a parent to another human being.
I don’t say this theoretically. It’s been my experience when I’ve been negotiating billions of pounds of international development funding, it’s been my experience in working with, and influencing, politicians to make better policy decisions, it was my experience being present in South Africa for those first post-apartheid elections, and it’s my experience as a parent.
You can do all of those with absolute seriousness, and yet you can bring grace and joy to your life and work at the same time — and doing so can create a positive spiral of even greater impact.
This One Word Makes It All Possible
It’s possible to live life so that both of these ways of being can be present at the same time. And that relies on us having perspective on what we do.
The perspective that our child IS the most important person in the world, And the perspective that life is precious and life is short.
The perspective that means we dedicate ourselves to our work with one hundred percent commitment, because it’s important. And the perspective that, no matter what we do, we can’t see around the corner and, ultimately, we have no idea how things will turn out.
Bruce gets this; he embodies it on stage — the depth of his commitment to his craft is undeniable. And yet, when he goes home, he’s just a regular parent and partner, like any of us.
Can you apply this?
Let me ask then, can you see areas in your life where you’re already applying this approach?
And maybe there are some areas where things look more serious? Where it looks like life and death, not rock and roll?
What about other people? Look around at the top performers you know and watch out for whether they have a ‘Bruce’ approach to what they do.
And does this make you want to change anything in your life? Is there a place where ‘being more Bruce’ could enhance your results or your impact? If anything strikes you, let me know <3