Rewind back a few years, and I had just finished my first TV appearance. Not to brag, but I thought I’d just combined the financial insight of Warren Buffet with the swagger and charm of Michelle Obama. I was on top of the world.
Until I heard “you made me want to vomit”.
After my sequence had wrapped, I breezed off the set toward my fashion expert friend like an excited puppy in anticipation of her compliments.
Needless to say, her feedback of my performance was less than stellar.
Instead of running away sobbing after hearing her feedback — which I really, really, really wanted to do — I opened myself up to criticism and asked her to clarify.
She said my choice of wardrobe for that particular TV appearance was more shabby than chic, and as a result I had done myself and my business a disservice.
When we have a bad performance and someone says something that we don’t want to hear, a lot of us dig in our heels, and I would be lying if I said that wasn’t my first reaction.
And I’d be also lying if I said my next TV appearance made me into an on-camera expert. Or the one after that.
But what kept me going is what I tell my employees all the time:
Don’t break the chain
Jerry Seinfeld reached his ginormous peak in earnings when he made $267 million dollars in 1998 (I tried standup a few times, but maybe I should have gone full-time instead).
A full decade later, Seinfeld was still pulling in a cool $85 million per year. If only there was a Seinfeld mutual fund.
Years ago, software developer turned amateur comedian Brad Isaac was doing stand-up, and to put it really lightly, he wasn’t doing well with the audience (I know the feeling).
After running offstage he received the best advice ever from Jerry.
Seinfeld explained his method for success: each January, he hangs a large calendar on his wall and, for every day he wrote new material, he had the pleasure of drawing a big red “X” over that day with a Sharpie.
Drawing those Xs got to be pretty rewarding, so he kept it up. And eventually, he began to create a chain of red Xs.
His success came from never breaking that chain.
The chain of your success
In case you didn’t notice, I didn’t say anything about a great joke, or even a slightly funny one.
I also didn’t mention the rest of Seinfeld’s schedule (if it’s anything like the show it involved a lot of really unimportant problems) or his motivation that day.
Top performers in every field don’t have constant brilliant moments or spew out creativity 24/7 365.
But they are all more consistent than their peers.
They show up and deliver day after day while everyone else gets worn down with the urgencies of daily life and the constant battle to stay motivated.
Most people lose every ounce of motivation and go off-track after a bad performance, a bad game, or even a bad day at work. And I’m tempted to do the same all the time.
The top performers don’t utter some magic spell to avoid these problems.
But they do settle right back into their pattern the next day.
Because as Oprah said “The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.”
Be your own cheerleader
Every morning I wake up ready to take on the world through LexION Capital. And by the end of most days, I usually don’t even accomplish half my goals. I doubt Oprah does either.
The key to reaching the top isn’t lowering your goals or throwing in the towel, but it’s to keep reaching towards your success, every single day.
Because sometimes, when everything is saying otherwise, the only thing separating you from success is brushing the dirt off your shoulder and doing it again.
So don’t break the chain. Because after a week, you’ll be rare. After a month, you’ll be extraordinary. And after a year, you’ll be incredible. Remember, the sky’s the limit.