What Jerry Seinfeld (and your love handles) can teach us about reaching our PR goals
We all have goals, in our personal lives as well as our jobs. But sometimes they stay out of reach, no matter how much work we put into obtaining them. PR is a profession that’s characterised by a high level of unpredictability, and therefore setting goals and reaching them can be especially hard. But there’s one thing that will help you do just this – the following story will show you what.S
Let’s say your goal is getting rid of the love handles on your waist. Let’s say you walk into your gym, warm up a bit, do a few push-ups on the floor, bounce from one machine to the other and then finish your workout with a quick spin on the treadmill.
Well, that’s just fine, you probably enjoyed the workout (or at least you enjoy being done with it), and by now you should feel good about yourself – you’ve earned it. But somehow your waist isn’t getting any thinner. Why? We’ll tell you. But first, let us tell you a story.
The Seinfeld Strategy
A young, aspiring comedian, named Brad Isaac, once asked Jerry Seinfeld about the secret of his success. What Seinfeld replied, was this:
- He said the way to be a better comic was to create better jokes and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.
- He told me to get a big wall calendar that has a whole year on one page and hang it on a prominent wall. The next step was to get a big red magic marker.
- He said for each day that I do my task of writing I get to put a big red X over 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 next is to not break the chain.”
- “Don’t break the chain,” he said again for emphasis.
This has become widely known as “The Seinfeld Strategy“, and is a simple example of how measuring your efforts will make your goal both visible and reachable. The fact that you can actually see how the chain gets longer by the day serves as a powerful motivating factor. And, at the same time, it concretizes which part of your work you need to improve.
Now, back to your waist. What went wrong during your workout was that you failed to measure it; count repetitions, weight, speed, and so on. And that leaves a poor basis for knowing whether you’re improving strength or stamina, or for planning ahead. Start counting, and you’ll notice yourself slimming down.
Bottom line is this: The things we measure are the things we improve. Keeping track of your progress is the only way to know if you’re getting closer to your goal. This is true however big or small that goal is.
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