What Do George Costanza, Stephen King and I Have In Common?


Goals, goals, goals.

So much is written about them.  Setting them. Pursuing them.  Attaining them.  Not attaining them.

This is not one of those blogs.  Sort of…

Present day living is challenging.  Things happen fast and what to do next is always on our minds.  We don’t want to make a mistake, get disrupted from whatever we’re pursuing. We stay the course, stick to our plan, and whether it’s right or wrong, let the chips fall where they may.  This is going to happen no matter what!  

The result is often the difference between companies and businesses that live to fight another day versus those that stick to a game plan so fiercely that even the long shots pass them by at times.

What I’m talking about is forgetting about direction on the way to our destination.  Think about all the different ways there are to return home? You can drive on the interstate, go the backroads, take a bus or train, ride a bike, and even walk.  You can fly the reverse way round the Earth and enter your town from the opposite direction if your goal is to see the world on the way home.

In this uncertain world, those who reach their destination will be those who know the backroads; who can look for alternate means of “travel.”  In these complex times, there isn’t just one answer that’s right.  There are many.  In fact, even the wrong answers are still answers.  So what ways can we be more flexible with our direction so we can get to where we want to go next for ourselves?

  1. Look for alternate routes. Take the train once in a while.  Figuratively speaking (not sure many of us are in full commute mode yet), propel yourself forward via different means. Look to other forms of transportation, communication, connection with others for ways to do things differently.
  2. Examine the opposite. In Seinfeld, George Constanza claimed in one episode that he would “do the opposite today!”  His fortune grew as the day progressed, just by beginning the day not cutting the crusts from his sandwich. Seek polarizing and opposite ideas and perspectives for clarity.
  3. Triangulate.  This is an interesting concept I first came across reading, of all things,  Stephen King’s memoir.  He formulated his very different stories by connecting three seemingly unrelated things or perspectives.  You can do the same thing. Look to the sides and behind you a little more frequently.  Hidden gems lie all around us in the form of answers to challenges we face.

My own journey to becoming a professional leadership and success coach was almost missed.  I was looking for ways to improve the conversation that was occurring between financial professionals and their clients and prospects.  (A truly tragic and very common occurrence that unfortunately still exists today.) I was creating workshops and seminars, assembling complimentary professionals to speak to audiences about good financial behavior and mindset, personally and professionally.  

I met an accomplished coach (and current colleague and friend) who recommended I attend a coaching workshop to test the waters and understand what this coaching thing might do for my quest. To understand this aspect of language, I committed to one workshop with the goal of learning how I could better structure events and engagements for prospective clients. I simply wanted to use this language to improve the client’s experience. 

Then, I decided to return for another workshop, then another, and then another, until I woke up staring at the opportunity for certification.  This was not my destination, and certainly not a direction I foresaw. I thought I would remain in the financial services industry, serving it by shifting just one financial professional beyond their own agenda to their counterpoint’s.

So that didn’t actually work out the way I anticipated and it totally worked out the way I ultimately wanted!  Direction: well…definitely different.  Destination: a fulfilling and purposeful career? Mission accomplished.  Five years later, here I am connecting three very different people to persuade you to pick your head up once in a while, look around. Instead of seeing, maybe smelling.  Instead of talking, maybe listening. Instead of touching, tasting? I dunno, this last one I’m gonna call myself out a bit: I don’t want to touch or taste a stale life. George, Steve, pass the salt and pepper.


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  1. Cassidy Cash on March 18, 2021 at 3:47 pm

    Opportunities can show up in the strangest places. I wonder if I would recognize an opportunity that showed up looking like it was a distraction. Good things to think about!

    • Joe Schum on March 19, 2021 at 10:09 am

      Is it really a distraction? If we can connect it to core values then that might be a good place to take a moment and let it in. Core values are foundational to decision making
      and acceptance of ideas, and they can also create tunnel vision for us. Hence the idea around examining polarizing beliefs to shake things up. It’s different thinking for sure!

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