Musings from the CU Suite

Jul 30, 2013

Seinfeld on Success

Written by Anthony Demangone

I read a great article (Buffer) about Jerry Seinfeld recently.  Someone ran into Seinfeld backstage and asked for his advice on how to succeed as a comic.

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(Seinfeld) said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.

He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker. He said for each day that I do my task of writing, I get to put a big red X over that day.\

After a few days you have a chain. Just keep at it and the chain will grow longer every day. You'll like seeing that chain, especially when you get a few weeks under your belt. Your only job is to not break the chain.

The author of the article, James Clear, raises some great points. He notes the following:

You'll notice that Seinfeld didn't say a single thing about results.

It didn't matter if he was motivated or not. It didn't matter if he was writing great jokes or not. It didn't matter if what he was working on would ever make it into a show. All that mattered was not breaking the chain.

And that's one of the simple secrets behind Seinfeld's remarkable productivity and consistency. For years, the comedian simply focused on not breaking the chain....

Top performers in every field - athletes, musicians, CEOs, artists - they are all more consistent than their peers. They show up and deliver day after day while everyone else gets bogged down with the urgencies of daily life and fights a constant battle between procrastination and motivation.

While most people get demotivated and off-track after a bad performance, a bad workout, or simply a bad day at work, top performers settle right back into their pattern the next day.

The Seinfeld Strategy works because it helps to take the focus off of each individual performance and puts the emphasis on the process instead. It's not about how you feel, how inspired you are, or how brilliant your work is that day. Instead, it's just about not breaking the chain.

The more and more I dig into the lives of successful people, the more I find a pattern of hard work. They get up earlier. They work harder. They do the small, tough tasks. 

It's easy to "blame" another person's success on "talent."  "They" are successful because "they" are...talented, smart, etc. If you don't have their talent, well, perhaps there's nothing you can do about that. 

Hard work leading to talent is a different story.  "They" are talented because "they" work harder?

That one is on you.

Have a great week, guys! Here's to starting your chain this week.