Due largely to deals like Netflix paying $500 million for the global streaming rights to SeinfeldJerry Seinfeld is worth an estimated $950 million.

Classic television series. World-class standup comedian. Near-billionaire.

No matter how you define success -- because success should mean something different to each of us -- Jerry is clearly successful.

But like many people whose financial success is a by-product of consistent, focused effort, rather than the driver of it, the money and accolades are largely irrelevant.

"I like money," Jerry says, "but it's never been about the money."

Instead, it's about the work. "It's similar to calligraphy or samurai," Jerry says. "I want to make cricket cages. You know those Japanese cricket cages? Tiny, with the doors? That's it for me: solitude and precision, refining a tiny thing for the sake of it."

And about the process.

Consistency increases capacity.

Seinfeld is famous for his joke-writing routine. Early on he realized the only way to become a better comedian is to write better jokes -- and the only way to write better jokes is to write every day.

So he got a large wall calendar, hung it in his office, and every day he wrote a new joke, he marked a red X over the date.

As he once 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."

Consistency increases ability.

Jerry didn't focus on getting rich, something he hoped to someday be. Or becoming a headlining comedian, something he burned to someday be. Or developing an iconic TV series; that wasn't even on his radar.

He focused on doing the work: Day after day.

Partly because that's the only way to accomplish a huge goal, but also because that's the only way to gain -- and keep -- the skills you need to accomplish that goal.

"If I don't do a (standup) set in two weeks, I feel it.

I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down.

Reading that changed my life. I used to wonder, 'Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don't I know how to do this already?'

The answer is no. You must keep doing it. The broadband starts to narrow the moment you stop."

Consistency breeds success.

You can't control other people. You can't control timing. You can't control luck. 

When you think about it, there are very few things you can control.

Except how hard -- and how consistently -- you work. So, if your definition of success includes, at least in part, traditional measures like wealth and professional achievement, consistent effort is the great equalizer.

Want to become a better leader? Don't just sit in your office and plan and strategize and manage upwards. Talk to the people who work for you. Every day. Ask questions. Ask for input. Ask for their ideas. Ask how you can make their jobs better. Don't just think about the job -- do the job.

Over time, your leadership broadband will expand. 

Want to become a better salesperson? Don't just attend seminars and read books and ask for advice. Get out and sell. Talk to potential clients. Talk to current clients. Don't just think about the job -- do the job.

Over time, your sales broadband will expand.

The same is true for any pursuit. Breakthroughs in skill come not from eureka moments but from the accumulation of consistent, focused effort.

Which is an incredibly empowering thought.

While you may not be as educated, experienced, or connected as other people, you can always rely on effort and perseverance.

Because, over time, effort always breeds skill and experience.

Especially if your effort is consistent.

Want to achieve a huge goal?

Make consistency your competitive advantage. 

It's the one thing you can always control.

Published on: Nov 13, 2019
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