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“80% of success is showing up.” –Woody Allen

Statistics aside, Woody Allen was onto something. If you consider how many ways just showing up can create advantages for you, it begins to look like a secret key that can unlock potential and build success.

Work

Like they weren’t going to rescue everyone once they showed up?

My boss often preaches three cornerstones of work performance: task, demeanor, and presence (a.k.a. reliability), which are all essential to career success. From this perspective, no amount of technical skill or charming personality can make you a great employee if your attendance is poor or if your mind wanders on the job. I have known many talented and charismatic colleagues that were less than reliable. However, when I think about co-workers that have been consistently present and focused at work, I realize they have been predominantly competent and civil, too. This leads me to conclude that people with the commitment and discipline  to show up every day find a way to get the job done and get along with their professional peers.

Dating and relationships

Have you ever known someone who was not particularly nice, bright, accomplished, or attractive, yet was always actively dating or in a relationship? With seemingly so little going for them, what is their secret? You guessed it: they show up! Relationships sometimes spark from two ships passing in the night or two soul-mates cosmically finding each other, but mostly, they’re a numbers game. People who put themselves in opportunistic situations to meet dating partners, stay open to conversation from suitors, and actively engage potential mates will have a more active love life than the brilliant, loveable, and beautiful recluse.

Exercise and leisure

No human has ever done this.

Have you ever entered a gym, started a run, dived into a (lap) pool, mounted a bike, or pressed “Start” on any fitness machine without getting a decent workout? Physical activity is the ultimate “just show up” scenario–as long as you initiate the activity, you are going to get value. Many leisure activities follow this path, too. I have had numerous conversations with friends and clients who describe their early resistance to going to a party, beach, hiking trail, restaurant, etc., only to admit that once they arrived at their destination, they enjoyed themselves and felt grateful for their decision to go.

Health care

Going to the doctor, physical therapist, counselor, or other health care professional is much like going to work: as long as you attend, you generally accomplish something. Sometimes showing up for such visits is inherently motivating. Although these professionals generally don’t aim to judge their patients, people still want to get positive feedback from them, so they tend to work a little harder for results. Honestly, who doesn’t try to shed a pound or two before an annual checkup? I have lost count of the number of times clients have arrived for a scheduled session, said, “Everything is going really well, so I don’t even know what to talk about today”, and then found a significant issue for conversation. Clearly, follow-through paid off for them.

Even a little momentum can still knock down a few pins.

Showing up is obviously not enough to be successful. Whatever challenges we pursue, we have to see them through to conclusion to achieve. However, even if you lack desire for a task, initiating it (showing up) can set things in motion, and with enough momentum, that ball keeps on rolling. I know this now, because one hour ago, I had little motivation to write and no idea what topic to pursue. So I just showed up, and got something to show for it.

by Jason Sackett, LCSW
Professional Staff at CWFL

jsackett@usc.edu

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