Jerry Seinfeld is a great example of how successful people are successful because they do things differently than other people. (So much so that I've written about one of his processes before -- and included a story about a different process in my book.) 

Successful people think and believe and operate differently than most other people -- and in the process, they achieve differently than most other people.

For example, here's a story from the documentary Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian. Seinfeld is chatting with stand-up comic Orny Adams. Adams is wondering if he's made the right choice in continuing to follow his stand-up dreams, and whether he is wasting his time.

"It's like you get to the point where, 'How much longer can I take it?'" Adams says. "I see my friends making a lot of money... they're moving up..."

"They're moving up?" Seinfeld says. "This (stand-up comedy) has nothing to do with your friends," Seinfeld says, waving his hands dismissively.

"Yeah, but what do you tell your parents?" Adams asks.

"This is a special thing," Seinfeld says. "This has nothing to do with 'making it.'" 

"Okay," Adams says. "But did you ever stop and compare your life and go, 'I'm 29, my friends are all married and have kids, they all have houses, they all have some sort of sense of normality...'

"Ick," Seinfeld says, and pauses for a moment. "Let me tell you a story," he continues. "This is my favorite story about show business."

"Glenn Miller's orchestra is doing a gig somewhere. They can't land the plane because it's winter, a snowy night... they have to land in this field and walk to the gig. They're dressed in their suits, they're ready to play, they're carrying their instruments.

So they're walking through the snow, it's wet and slushy, and in the distance they see this little house. There are lights on inside, there's a curl of smoke coming out of the chimney, and they go up to the house and look in the window.

"Inside they see this family. There's a guy and his wife, she's beautiful, there's two kids, and they're all sitting around the table, they're smiling, they're laughing, there's a fire in the fireplace... 

"These guys are standing there in their suits. They're wet and shivering, holding their instruments, and they're watching this incredible Norman Rockwell scene.

"And one guy turns to another guy and goes, 'How do people live like that?'

"That's what this is about."

Of course, everyone's definition of success is different. For many, a home and a family is near the top of the list.

But for others, it's not. Maybe just not now. Or maybe not ever. And that's okay.

That's more than okay. 

Much of the time you should at least consider what other people think -- but not when it stands in the way of living the life you really want to live.

For example, if you really want to start a business (which you can do in just a few hours) but you're worried that people might say you're crazy... do it anyway. If you want to embrace a different formula for work/life balance than most other people... do it anyway. If you want to accomplish something silly like doing 100,000 pushups in one year... go for it.

Pick one thing you haven't tried primarily because you're concerned about what other people might think or say. 

And just go do it.

It's your life. Live it your way.

Published on: Feb 21, 2018
Like this column? Sign up to subscribe to email alerts and you'll never miss a post.