The first episode of The Seinfeld Chronicles aired thirty years ago today on July 5, 1989. The show struggled to capture ratings in the first few seasons: Unusual premise, unusual approach, no huge stars...
The eventual success of Seinfeld surely came as a surprise to NBC, since the network only ordered five initial episodes and decided to premier the show during the dog days of summer TV viewing.
Yet despite the early struggles, Jerry Seinfeld played the long game, keeping his head down and doing the work. Relentlessly crafting, day after day, the show he believed in.
In time, 'Seinfeld' became one of the most-viewed and most successful television series in history and has gone on to generate billions of dollars in syndication revenue.
Which may have come as no surprise to Jerry Seinfeld since he built 'Seinfeld' the same way he built his wildly successful stand-up career.
A Never-Ending String of Red Xs
Comedians need material -- lots and lots of material. They can't perform the same act year after year. They constantly need new jokes, new insights, new stories.
While the performance is the end product, comedians that can't consistently write have nothing to perform. Writing is the foundation.
Early on -- before he even had five good minute's of material -- Seinfeld realized the way to become a better comedian is to write better jokes.
And the only way to write better jokes... is to write every day.
Wait for inspiration? No. Wait for lightning to strike? No. Waiting accomplishes nothing. He needed to write, each and every day. (Sounds simple, right? But that's how excellence is achieved.)
So Seinfeld got a large wall calendar, one that showed the entire year. He hung it in a place he couldn't miss. And every day, once he had accomplished his task -- remember, his task wasn't to become a great comedian, his task was to write new material -- he put a red X over that date.
As Seinfeld told Brad Isaac:
After a few days, you'll 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.
Your Only Job Is to Not Break the Chain
Seinfeld didn't focus on an ultimate goal. He didn't focus on becoming a headlining comedian. He didn't focus on developing an iconic hit TV series.
He focused on doing the work.
Because that's the only way any results can follow.
Want to be your own version of Jerry Seinfeld? Pick a goal. Decide what one thing -- what one, fundamental thing -- will make the biggest difference in achieving that goal if you do it every day.
And then commit to checking off the boxes on your calendar.
Within a few days, you'll start to embrace your small successes.
Within a few weeks, you won't be able to imagine doing things differently.
And one day you'll look up and realize that you're a lot closer to where you someday hope to be than you ever imagined possible.
Because success is always found by doing the right things, day after day after day.