You might wonder what a comedian can teach you about being a more successful person and entrepreneur, but when you consider that, in 2014, he was reportedly worth $820 million, you'll think again. In some ways, comedy is the ultimate startup – but, in this case, there's nothing to shield you from the critics.
Here are four lessons from watching and listening to Jerry Seinfeld that'll help you become a more successful person:
Lesson #1: Be Extremely Habitual About Methods
In an interview about his joke-writing process, Seinfeld admitted that he's very particular about certain tools. He always writes his material longhand, with a Bic clear-barrel blue pen, on a yellow legal pad. As Seinfeld – and plenty of other business owners – have discovered, having strong habits is incredibly important. When you automate your process, you free up your mind to focus more on being creative.
In addition, studies have shown that when you develop habits, you exercise your self-control, which strengthens like a muscle. This not only gives you the ability to maintain willpower longer, it also increases your ability to improve a variety of other behaviors. A single good habit leads to a domino effect of better behavior, which improves your life overall and helps you be successful.
The great thing about this tip is that you can apply it to any aspect of your life, whether you're trying to make changes to your personal habits or your professional behaviors. Suppose you're trying to lose weight. What if, instead of worrying every day over how you'd get a healthy lunch in, you made it a habit to prepare meals ahead of time on Sunday? What if you went to the gym before work every morning so that it became second nature to walk out the door and go exercise?
The same rules apply to your work life. Think about the environment you create for yourself. Jerry Seinfeld always uses the same setup to write his materials. How can you optimize your workspace so that productivity isn't something you have to work towards – it's automatic, because of the environment you've created? It may sound overly simplistic, but little habit changes like these can have a big impact on your overall level of success.
Lesson #2: Always Be What You Want to Be
Following your dreams – instead of settling for the "expected path" – will not only make you happier, it'll also make you more successful. In the Seinfeld sitcom, George Costanza famously decided to do everything the opposite of what he was used to in his unsuccessful life, and in doing so, became amazingly successful.
There's a great lesson for personal improvement in there. We've all heard that doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, but how many of us actually take time regularly to assess what parts of our lives are working and which ones aren't? Be like George Costanza. If something in your life is clearly unsuccessful, try doing the opposite and seeing what the results are.
In Jerry's real life, he graduated from college and immediately joined the comedy circuit, defying traditional expectations about what graduates were supposed to do with their lives. Choosing to live based on others' expectations for your life leads to a lack of fulfillment and vision. This alone will cause you to be unsuccessful. Instead, choose to do what you want to do – even if it's the opposite of everything you've done so far. You never know where you'll end up!
Lesson #3: You Don't Need to Be Perfect
If Seinfeld's television show was about anything, it was about the humor of our all-too-human mistakes and mishaps. From George Costanza's problems at work to the frequent musings about the best way to break up a relationship or dip a chip, you learn from watching the show that's there no such thing as perfect.
When you let go of perfect, you dramatically increase your productivity and confidence. Focusing on perfection can actually destroy your business, making you inflexible and unwilling to take risks. By watching Seinfeld and applying the surprising lessons the show presents, you can learn to relax, accept yourself as simply human, and move forward as best you can.
Lesson #4: Laughter Really Is The Best Medicine
Laughter is a lesson we learn from all good comedians, and we learn it especially well from the best ones. Seinfeld not only likes to be funny, he likes to think about why humor is funny. His new online show, "Comedians in Cars," is based on the simple premise of him driving around with other comedians, talking about comedy. As it turns out, humor doesn't have to be dirty, either. Daily life is funny enough.
Humor is a key component in all kinds of relationships, from business to dating. Laughing, and making others laugh, has a bonding element that is closely related to success. A Robert Half International survey showed that91% of executives believe a sense of humor is important for career advancement. So learn to laugh a little – it'll help you in your personal relationships and your professional ones.
Watching and listening to Jerry Seinfeld, whether as a stand-up comedian or through his classic sitcom show, is great entertainment. However, as his success shows, Seinfeld also has some important lessons to teach us about success. By observing his methods and the way he uses humor, you can learn to be habitual about your methods, follow your dreams, ditch perfection, and laugh at yourself along the way. When you apply these lessons to your everyday life, you'll become a much more successful person in both your personal and professional lives.
What shows or individuals do you find help you become more successful? Share any other unexpected sources of inspiration you've found by leaving a comment below: