The daily execution of doing something is the boring part of excellence that no one wants to talk about. —Scott Welle
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I’m putting the finishing touches on a presentation for next week, Daily Execution for Extraordinary Results, which goes deep into the science of goal achievement, motivation, and habit formation. And one of the principles that I love to talk about is “The Seinfeld Strategy.” I wasn’t the biggest Jerry Seinfeld fan, but I love learning from people that have achieved great levels of success and mastery in any area or any field. If you look at Seinfeld, or read any stories about him, he was almost obsessive in his desire for mastery in wanting to become a better comedian. Stories of him performing in dingy, dive bars and clubs, just so he could tweak one line or one joke and spending hours trying to get it exactly right.
When we look at The Seinfeld Strategy, it is something that we can apply to any area of our life, personally, professionally or athletically. It breaks down the boring part of excellence that no one wants to talk about. The anti “massive action solves all problems.”
Here’s the story:
A bunch of years ago Seinfeld was performing in LA and there was a young, aspiring comedian named Brad Isaac and Brad got to talk to Seinfeld backstage. He was envious of his success and everything that Seinfeld had done. He wanted to learn from him and take a little bit of that to be able to become better at his craft and follow in Seinfeld’s shoes.
Brad says, “Jerry, how can I be you? How can I become a better comedian?”
Seinfeld replied, “The way that you become a better comedian is simple. You’ve got to create better jokes.”
Ha ha. Obvious, right?
But the brilliance is the next part where he said:
“Brad, the way that you become a better comedian is to create better jokes. And the way that you create better jokes is to write every day.”
He told him to go home and buy a big wall calendar that has all the days for a month mapped out. And he said, every day that you write, I want you to take a Sharpie and put a big X through that day. He called it “not breaking the chain.” He said, what’s going to happen is every day that you write and you put an X through that day, you’re going to start to become motivated and empowered and accountable to a chain of days that you’ve written.
And you’re not going to want to break that chain.
You might look at something like this and think that it almost sounds too painfully simple, right? But a lot of times there’s just genius in this simplicity. We all have something out there like that is the equivalent of becoming a better comedian, right? Build a business. Grow a sales territory. Become a better runner. Learn to play the guitar. It can literally be anything, but we all have some equivalent of an outcome like being a better comedian.
And without a doubt, there are certain skills that you need to have that are required for you to be able to fulfill this outcome (i.e., create better jokes). The daily execution happens when we break down the controllable activities and actions that we all can do every single day (i.e., writing.
Note that he didn’t say, “I want you to write two hours, four hours, six hours every single day.” He just told Brad to write every day. When you start to stack up that level of simplicity, the little itty bitty things that we do every day that you don’t notice in a day, probably won’t notice in a week, will start to notice in a month, and over the course of many months or years, the entire trajectory of your life looks completely different.
But it starts with writing every day.
As you hear this, what is the outcome that you want? What is your equivalent of being a better comedian?
What is the skill that you need to be proficient in? What is your equivalent of creating better jokes?
What is your activity or action that seems almost so inconsequential that it doesn’t matter at the time, but if you would stack that up and do it every single day with discipline, would fuel that skill you want? What is your equivalent of writing every day?
This is how Outperformers think, and in the words of the great Rocky Balboa, that is how winning is done. When you start stacking up those days and come back to me with a full calendar of X’s, of you doing something that you know matters towards your outcome, you can’t help but be successful in ANYTHING you do.
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