power in words and pictures

Show Up

Show Up

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Woody Allen

Young parents are often surprised by how quickly life changes when a baby joins the family.  There is a perceived (and somewhat real) loss of freedom, and for a new mother, this is especially true if she is staying home for any length of time.  The laundry piles up, the dust bunnies take up residence beneath every piece of furniture, and strange things happen in her mind, leaving her to feel totally out of control.  The rest of the world is moving right along as it was before this new life entered the world.  For those of us with older children, it can be difficult to step back to that time, unless there was something especially memorable for us.  I remember when our first-born was only a couple weeks old, and one woman made a huge difference in my life.  She taught me the importance of showing up.

It seems that many of us are full of good intentions for things we’d like to do.  But if you are only full of good intentions, you’ll never write the book, land the job, meet the man or woman, make the team, pass the class, get the promotion, or sell the house.

I liken it to this little scenario: I hear someone hasn’t been feeling well, and I think that I should send them a card to let them know I’m thinking of them.  I remember when I pass the greeting card section in the store that I wanted to buy a card, so I stop and find several cards that might be just right.  I purchase a few cards so I can be prepared the next time I need to send someone a get-well card.  I go home and make a mental note that I need to find out the person’s address.  I write a note on the card and set it aside until I can get the address.  A day or two pass and I see the person at the grocery feeling very well.  Now, it is too late to send the card.  I missed the opportunity.  I didn’t show up.

By now, you might be getting the idea that showing up is more than just going to the office to do your job.  Showing up is more than telling someone to let you know if you can do anything to help in a difficult time.  Showing up is putting in the extra effort to go from saying you will do something to actually doing it, and doing it better than expected.  Showing up is what it takes to find success for yourself and often for someone else.

People talk about how important it is to support locally owned businesses, but do we show up and shop locally?  We want to have a city with some culture, but when the local symphony or arts center faces having to close due to lack of community support, it becomes clear that showing up isn’t as important as talking a big game.  When you hear that a friend has taken the time to practice and become a better actor, singer, or musician, do you make time to attend a performance, or do you consistently say “I really hope to see your show one of these days.”?   Why not make the leap from good intentions to meaningful actions?

You and I have opportunities every single day to show up.

  • If you know someone is stuck at home, do more than think about reaching out–reach out.
  • If you are glad for the freedom to vote, do more than complain about the state of affairs–vote on election day.
  • If your child is participating in a sport, a play, or any other activity, don’t say you wish you could make it to see them perform–be there.
  • If you know you need to stop overeating or start exercising, don’t make excuses for what you wish you could do–do it.
  • If your child wants to spend time with you, don’t say you would if only…-spend time with your child.

Life is not very meaningful if we all are operating on good intentions.  In the business world, successful employees are the ones who do more than just the minimum requirements.  In what way are you hoping to be successful?  To make a difference in life, ours or other people’s, we have to show up.  If we want others to show up in our lives, we need to make the time to show up in their lives.

As a young mother, I sat with my first son when he was only a couple of weeks old, wondering if my life would ever be ‘normal’ and if I’d ever find a way to get everything done that I wanted or needed to do.  Sitting in my self-pity, a mini-van pulled into the driveway, and a sweet friend hopped out and came to my door. “Get dressed, we’re going out.”  I was overwhelmed by her thoughtfulness and patience as she drove me to run all of my errands while she waited in the car with my baby.  It was the greatest act of kindness anyone could have shown me at that time.  She didn’t call and say “Let me know if you need a break sometime,” nor did she say “I really meant to get over and lend a hand.”  She taught me the value of one simple action: showing up.

I couldn’t agree more with Woody Allen’s simple words of wisdom.  This week, I’m going to show up for someone somewhere because I know that’s what really matters in life and because someone’s success, mine or theirs, will be more certain because of it.  I’ll encourage you to do the same.

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