Just ‘Showing Up’ Isn’t Enough

“80% of success is showing up.”

I have a problem with this quotation attributed to actor/director Woody Allen. In truth I have other issues with Woody Allen, but that’s one for another day. Although it is probably true that it is next to impossible to be successful without showing up, is showing up anything more than just the first baby step in the overall path to success?

Is being 80% successful even a thing? Can you actually be anything less than 100% successful? Is that like being 80% pregnant? Or getting 80% promoted? And just where are you expected to show up? I’ve never seen any places labeled ‘Find Success Here’ on a map. Without any clear direction, is is possible to be successful if you show up, for example, at a convenience store or a sports bar? I guess that would depend on your definition of success.

“I showed up and grabbed the last loaf of bread at the mini-mart. Yessss!!!”

“I showed up at PJ’s Bar just as they brought out the hot wings. Score!!”

Can you show up late and still be successful? Can you show up drunk or hungover? What about being prepared? Keeping your nose to the grindstone? Minding your p’s & q’s? I’m not sure about that last one, but the first two should count for something. Oh, and can you show up, but leave early? Will that impact your ability to be successful?

In the classroom, it is certainly possible to show up consistently and still fail the course. Doing your homework, studying for exams, participating in discussions- those are the behaviors of successful students. Attendance usually counts for no more than 10% of the overall grade. In the workplace, good attendance is expected. Those who fail to show up are usually not long for the world. Can you imagine getting a performance review where the only measure is attendance?

“I showed up; therefore I should keep my job, or get a raise or a promotion.”

“Did you contribute to the bottom line? Assist your department in meeting its objectives? Increase market share or customer service rankings?”

“Well no, but I have perfect attendance, so…..”

And finally, what about in relationships? Is simply showing up for a 1st date a guarantee that there will be a 2nd one? Don’t you have to make a bit more of an effort? As a parent (arguably the hardest job in the world) simply being present is never enough. “My parent was um, present,” said no well-adjusted person ever. That’s because parenthood is not a spectator sport – active participation is required. Life is challenging, but ultimately extremely rewarding, and the rewards are reserved for those willing to roll up their sleeves and work hard. Be involved. Get down and dirty. Work up a sweat. Contribute. Give a damn. Make a difference.

Just showing up for your own life? Not an option. You can do better than that!



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