Nobody has more credibility about achieving success than wildly successful people. Knowing how to get to the top of the mountain is one thing, but summiting that peak again and again until your smiling visage is carved into it is quite another. Why else would a conversation about what it takes to be great between the King of All Media and one of the greatest comedians of all time is worth repeating on a site about learning and performance.
Apparently, Howard Stern recently interviewed Jerry Seinfeld, and the conversation turned to work ethic. Howard started talking about how hard he worked everyday to make a living in radio:
Howard Stern: “I thought, you know, it is possible to will yourself, maybe not to be the greatest in the world but to certainly get what you want.”
Jerry Seinfeld: “I’m going to adjust your perspective a little bit. That was no will. What you were using, what Michael Jordan uses and what I use, is not will. It’s love. When you love something, it’s a bottomless pool of energy. That’s where the energy comes from. But you have to love it sincerely. Not because you’re going to make money from it, be famous, or get whatever you want to get. When you do it because you love it, then you can find yourself moving up and getting really good at something you wanted to be really good at. Will is like not eating dessert or something that’s just forcing yourself. You can’t force yourself to be what you have made yourself into. You can love it. Love is endless. Will is finite.”
Understandably, becoming a famous entertainer may be *slightly* easier to love than earning exceptional grades and test scores, but Seinfeld’s insights still apply. If you want to ace the SAT or ACT, learn to love the process of learning, practicing, and improving. Love the reading. Love the grammar. Love the problem solving, time management, executive function, and every other little detail that underscores elite performance. The best test takers I’ve ever met loved something about either the exams they routinely conquered or what excelling in this area said about them as people. Find love for the challenge, and you’ll find unlimited energy to rise to the occasion.
Speaking of Howard Stern, here’s a little piece of trivia: I was an extra in his movie Private Parts. But, obviously, I love education more than acting 😉