Monthly Archives: March 2009

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!

Learning to Backflip

I wanted to learn how to do a backflip. Basically do a “backflip experiment.”

I’ve tried them before but like most people I had an extremely strong anti-backwards response like a cat which forces you to turn sideways when you’re upside down in mid-air.

So whilst at my rock climbing gym I decided to give these a try because they have thick crash pads I could fall on. The pads help remove the hesitation of flipping backwards (and busting your ass on the ground).

Just to see what I was doing wrong I decided to videotape myself doing these….which kind of turned into a mini-documentary on my backflip progress.

So I got comfortable with flipping backwards, and felt like I almost got the hang of it, but my flips weren’t consistent or correct. I knew there was something wrong with my flips. My head always got very close to the ground, unlike a proper backflip.

So I enlisted the help of John who knows how to do them correctly. We went with a few friends to the park and tried them on the extremely hard ground…it was a step softer than concrete.

With his help, after 3 or 4 tries I actually did a PROPER BACKFLIP!! I was very excited and eager to try another….and therefore forgetting to concentrate on the task at hand. The next flip I landed directly on my FACE.

I’m not exactly sure how I didn’t break my nose after that impact…but I did get a scar between my brow and nose….

…so after that I decided I should perhaps first learn proper technique with proper padding (FYI the scar is gone now).

Finding a place with trampolines, foam pit and other gymnastics equiqment wasn’t hard, but the max age for all these places was around 13 to 16. I’m 26 so that would be odd….kind of like that Seinfeld episode where Kramer takes a Karate class with kids. Fortunately a friend found out about a place that holds night classes for adults, so I enrolled in that.

There I had some proper instruction and equipment which was more forgiving than the park grounds.

By the second lesson I could do the backflips much better, sometimes landing them correctly. By the 3rd time I was doing them pretty consistently! Not only that but I’m now learning those roundoff-to-back-tuck flip sequences which are even more fun.

Of course my backflips still need some perfecting. I’m still jumping back quite a bit, whereas a perfect backflip starts and ends in the exact same location.

So here are all the backflip attempts I videotaped, including my face-plant!

What I learned:

  • Look straight forward
  • Jump nearly straight up, not back (it’s scary the first few times)
  • Don’t tuck right away
  • Wait till jump gets height, tuck with force, hold momentarily, release.
  • Don’t land on face.

UPDATE: 3-6-2009

In a comment, Aman said:
Good lesson in persistence and perseverance there Nev. For those that don’t see anything more than a few back flips really need to get out of the business world. Lessons are everywhere and not always directly put out there.

I especially like his last sentence. Couldn’t have said it better. It’s frustrating to get comments (most of which I reject) and emails that say, “What does this have to do with business?”

I personally thought it was a great life lesson (or business) video:

  1. First few shaky attempts are a little scary, amateurish and don’t look good at all.
  2. After some tries, start getting the hang of it and might even have a decent success.
  3. Even though I executed a perfect one early on, the next one I landed directly on my face (literally).
  4. A little mentoring and research goes a LONG way.
  5. After a few bumps, bruises, scrapes and a lot of mundane practice you slowly start to get the hang of it.
  6. The more you practice, the better you get.
  7. Once I got the backflip, I could start doing more complicated maneuvers.

“Lessons are everywhere and not always directly put out there.”