Comedy and Construction
I recently finished Seth Godin’s latest book called The Practice.
The Practice is a journey of life, creativity, art, entrepreneurship, and success. The Practice is the act of doing the work without the burden of expectation.
Two nights ago, I watched a documentary about Jerry Seinfeld.
The documentary is called Comedian. It was an exploration of what it takes to be a stand up comic. The show follows Jerry Seinfeld has he attempts to regain his “comedy chops” by working on a standup bit shortly after his career on Seinfeld (the show) had ended.
Seinfeld has a mindset that is perfectly in line with what it means to participate in the practice. He never once spoke about the results. He never once hinted on what his achievements should be or what he thought he deserved.
All of his stress, nerves, insecurity, confidence, and excitement came from the practice of comedy.
He was obsessed with his act. It’s all he had. It’s all that mattered. But his obsession was always about the art, and never about the outcome.
In the show, Seinfeld spoke about a particular experience he had. This isn’t a direct quote, but it went something like…
“In the beginning of my career, I was working on comedy maybe 3 times a week. I thought I was working hard. Then one day I’m driving down the street and I see a group of construction workers finishing their lunch break and getting back to work. I realized those guys didn’t want to get back to work after lunch. They got back to work because it was their job. I realized that I needed that kind of thinking for my comedy.”
Great creative work isn’t about inspiration and it’s not about “tapping into the muse.”
Creative work is about getting up after your lunch break, and getting back to work. Construction workers show up on time and build. Waiters show up on time and serve. Creatives show up on time and create.
It’s not more complicated than that.
I write every day because it’s my job. Seinfeld writes jokes every day because it’s its job.
When you apply this kind of mindset to your work, you can’t fail because the laws of the universe insist that you will always improve. You may not get the result that you want, but what other choice do you have?