Jerry Seinfeld one of America’s greatest stand up comedians.
He was also the co-creator and co-writer of Seinfeld, considered to be one of the greatest and most influential sitcoms ever made. Jerry has sat atop the list of the worlds wealthiest actors, with a net worth of $860 million. But not always, Jerry was once a struggling broke comedian, dabbling with comedy a few days a week and getting paid in food.
Eventually Jerry thought to himself while standing outside watching these construction workers trudge back to work, these guys show up to work every day whether they feel motivated or not — and that’s what it takes to become great. Here I am dabbling in comedy a few days a week, and expecting it to be a full time gig.
From that day forward, Jerry worked on his comedy every day whether he felt like it or not, whether he was in the mood for it or not, whether he had the energy for it or not. He stuck to a commitment and a routine of sitting down, writing jokes, working on his material, every single day.
Mastery Follows Consistency
Jerry’s advice to young comedians was to get a big calendar and put it on your wall, every morning after you do your writing task put a big red X on that day.
“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.”
The Seinfeld strategy is useful because it’s not about how good your work is, how motivated you are but simply sticking to the process everyday. Robert Greene writes in Mastery that we must “trudge on past the point of boredom” and the only real impediment to this is your emotions. These emotions are experienced by everyone, including Masters.
What’s your new skill?
John Wooden made a point to his assistants to dive deep into one area every off season, not dabbling but narrowing your focus. Jerry Seinfeld was so purposeful about his development as a comedian, to change just two minutes of his routine he spent 6 months at small comedy clubs working on his jokes and getting feedback.
To utilise the Seinfeld Strategy, we must pick a task that is meaningful enough to make a difference in your improvement but so simple it can be done daily. Seth Godin said “it’s the production not the time investment.” We must be able to see that our technical or tactical knowledge has improved through best practice.
1. Where do you want to improve?
Consider the skills that you want to dive into to improve your coaching, where are the gaps in your knowledge? For me last year it was end of game situations. Maybe for you it’s the Syracuse 2–3 zone, or practice planning, defensive transition, or mastering something basic such as teaching shooting.
Write down your topic for improvement.
2. What small but consistent task is going to help that?
For 60 days in a row, I woke up in the morning and watched the last 4 minutes of two close NBA games. It only took 20 minutes. Pause, rewind, what are they doing out of this timeout? Why are they switching here and in zone there? Maybe for you it’s watching a Jim Boheim clinic, reading 10 pages on leadership, diving into film on one topic.
Make sure it’s SIMPLE and easy to complete. The consistency is what counts.
What is your simple task?
3. Create something.
In the book, Principles by billionaire hedge fund manager Ray Dalio shares the unconventional principles that helped him create unique results in life and business. He explains that to be ‘principled’ means to consistently operate with principles that can be clearly explained.
For me, I created a document with about 30–40 end of game plays, and 10 defensive or offensive strategies for close games and sent it to some coaches.
How can you simplify what you are learning into a 1–2 page document? Great teachers have the ability to reduce something highly complex and make it simple.
From what you learn, what are your 7 principles of defensive transition? What are the 5 pillars of the Syracuse Zone? This might be some learning that becomes part of your philosophy.
If I were to have three important things I watched from end of game situations it would’ve have been this.
Have your end of game plays pre-prepared, so your time out doesn’t look like a 3 year old learning to draw. Practice them with your players.
Have a ‘home play’ and then 7–8 things you can do out of it, then your players are familiar with the set up and you can adjust your wrinkles.
It doesn’t matter what your philosophy is just that you have one and your players know it. Up 3 — foul or no foul?
4. Share with others
Now you have something of value to give, but you have also added a tool in coaching tool box. Maybe you don’t use it for months, even years but you are now better than before.
You have an obligation to send it to 10 people you know, send me a message and tell me what your topic is going to be. People will be grateful for what you share, David Blatt said “don’t be afraid to share what you know even if you think it’s not high level.” I would love to hear about it.
What Gets Measured Gets Managed
Don’t forget to track your habit or skill, this has the ability to build powerful momentum where you won’t want to break the chain.
“All big things come from small beginnings. The seed of every habit is a single, tiny decision. But as that decision is repeated, a habit sprouts and grows stronger. Roots entrench themselves and branches grow. The task of breaking a bad habit is like uprooting a powerful oak within us. And the task of building a good habit is like cultivating a delicate flower one day at a time.” ― James Clear, Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones
I hope this helped, now it’s time to get to work!