Do The Opposite

Posted on April 22, 2014

In a strange way, the classic George Costanza Do The Opposite scene from Seinfeld contains a powerful student success strategy to help you SHOW UP AND SHINE in life and leadership.

George Costanza: “Every decision I have ever made in my entire life has been wrong….Every instinct I have in every aspect of life, be it something to wear or something to eat, it’s all been wrong.”

Jerry Seinfeld: “If every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.”

Although Seinfeld oversimplified things, simplification brings clarity. So here’s a simple truth: If you want to experience student success in school, your daily life, and your leadership, do the opposite of what most teenagers do. 

If you are a member or leader in a student organization like FBLA, DECA, FCCLA, FFA, SkillsUSA, HOSA, BPA, Student Council, or 4-H, doing the opposite of what “normal” teenagers do can sound crazy and feel a bit intimidating. But if you think about it, it makes tons of sense.

  • Normal students procrastinate. Student leaders are proactive.
  • Normal students tear others down. Student leaders build others up.
  • Normal students blame others for their problems. Student leaders accept responsibility when faced with challenges.
  • Normal students spend their time pursuing shallow endeavors. Student leaders invest their time in personal and professional development.
  • Normal students just live for the moment. Student leaders live it forward by setting and pursuing worthwhile goals.

The legendary Earl Nightingale said it this way: “If you want to be successful in life, simply watch what most people do in a given situation, and then do the total opposite. Nine times out of ten, you’ll receive greater rewards!” I don’t know about you, but I like those odds.

Bottom line, you were born an original, so don’t live like a copy. Don’t follow the crowd and settle for “normal.” Who wants to be normal, anyway? Normal people don’t accomplish much. Normal people don’t impact much. Normal people don’t make history.

Instead, show up and shine! No matter what challenge or opportunity comes your way, ask yourself: “What would most teenagers do in this situation?” Then do the opposite. It’s practically guaranteed you’ll make a better decision!

By the way, check out how George Costanza’s do-the-opposite adventure paid off for him (smile)…

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