The Opposite

Favorite sitcom = Seinfeld.

One of my favorite episodes was “The Opposite” where the character George Costanza does everything the opposite of his instincts.

“It all became very clear sitting out there today, that every decision that I’ve ever made in my entire life – has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I wanted to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life…be it: something to wear, something to eat…it’s all been wrong.”

George then has a situation come up (an attractive woman looks in his direction) that he usually does nothing about, and Jerry eggs him on:

“Here’s your chance to try the opposite. If every instinct you have is wrong; then the opposite would have to be right.”

He goes and talks to the woman in a very “opposite” way and gets the girl. Then more situations arise where he does the opposite. If anything it’s at least hilarious.

Later on in the episode everything is going GREAT for George! His life turns around as he gets the dream girl and the dream job and says, “This has been the dream of my life ever since I was a child, and it’s all happening because I’m completely ignoring every urge towards common sense and good judgment I’ve ever had!

See YouTube video here:

I remember originally seeing this episode and thinking, “What a great idea!” Recently I’ve tried slowly applying “The Opposite” mantra in any area where I don’t think I’ve been performing well:

–If a small issue comes up (in a customer order or website issue) instead of following habit and putting it on tomorrow’s to-do list I’ll do the opposite and fix it right then and there.

–When I come home late and still have something left on the to-do list, I usually postpone it till the next day. Instead I’ll do “the opposite” and finish it right there on the spot.

–Every once in a while I’ll get a difficult customer who wants something unreasonable. Instead of getting annoyed and acting snide with them I’ll do the opposite and try my humanly best to make them happy.

–If I’m on a long bike ride and hit a point I know I’ll be too tired to bike back home, instead of turning back I’ll do the opposite and keep going.

The examples go on…..I’m sure you can imagine a few for your own life.

Suggesting a life changing tip from a Seinfeld episode almost sounds ridiculous…but not really. Essentially I’ve equated “The Opposite” with motivation to do something NOW instead of waiting or hesitating. It mainly helps you push limits and break habits that were formed for no real reason. When I tell myself “Oh stop being lazy and just do it” the message sometimes isn’t that convincing.

However telling myself, “Do the opposite…this particular thing hasn’t worked out well in the past, why would it work now?”
….that works pretty well.

Here’s some of the character insights behind the episode:

So if you’re doing something you know hasn’t worked out for you in the past, try the opposite!

Blog posted on: March 11, 2009

8 comments on “The Opposite

  1. MoneyEnergy

    I guess my most recent example of “doing the opposite” would defnitely have to be “paying myself first” – but not just 10% of my income – 50%! Usually I would just imagine I couldn’t afford to invest that much.

    So now I’m forced to either live on less or come up with more income; and you know what, since I’ve done this I’ve actually had new advertisers come in for my website, etc. that I just wasn’t paying attention to before, so there is a growing possibility I can make this back and get some more cashflow happening!

    Great idea, I like the way you explained it.

  2. Trevor @ Financial Nut

    That episode with George doing everything “opposite” of what his instincts tell him is absolutely, 100% EPIC! :) I love it.

    Great post.

  3. kim-free classified website

    Just want to say that I enjoyed your post much as I enjoyed The Opposites. Thanks for sharing this.

  4. Anonymous

    I have been looking tirelessly to borrow funds for my 12 year old company using cash as a security. If anyone has any suggestions as to where I can find capital please advise. Tom Sullivan 208-351-4707

  5. Glenn Goossens

    Derek Sivers also shares this same theory in his new blogpost ( Derek is know as founder of CEO baby and as TED speaker.

    Quote from blogpost:
    “But I felt like I needed to shatter my habits. So my little mini slogan was, “Wherever you used to say ‘yes’ say ‘no’ and wherever you used to say ‘no’ say ‘yes’.” Reversing all of the things you used to do and trying the opposite.”

    Your “Do the opposite!” is actually really a mini slogan, his mini slogan is not so mini :D


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