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!



Balancing Act

Balance is important to me. Really important. My whole life, I have struggled to find it. The dictionary defines balance as “mental steadiness or emotional stability; habit of calm behavior, judgment, etc.” Emotional stability? Works for me. Calm behavior? Sure, sign me up. Maybe it’s because I’m a Libra! Astrology has never been something I truly believed in; I can’t even remember the last time I checked my horoscope. But I was born under that sign, the scales, so that could explain why I try so hard to find balance. Maybe it’s because I grew up in an alcoholic household. I’ve been told that adult children of alcoholics ‘guess at normal’ behavior and find the concept of stability very appealing. I don’t really know why I crave balance so much, but I do!

When I was in my 20’s, the balanced life I was seeking would have been equal parts of hard work and pleasure. Climbing the corporate ladder was challenging, but I managed to find plenty of time for partying and falling in and out of love. I was burning the candle at both ends and being exhausted and frequently stressed was the price I gladly paid. When I met the man who would become my husband, I knew I had found ‘Mr. Right’. Balance became all about maintaining my professional success and investing lots of time and attention into this new loving relationship. In my mid 30’s, my biological clock was ticking and getting pregnant became the priority. Work was more of a necessary evil, a way to have good medical benefits to pay for loads of fertility treatments and ultimately, the birth of two children. By the time I was turning 40, I was once again exhausted. 50 hour workweeks, two in diapers and daycare and no time for me or the hub! I ultimately gave up a six figure salary in exchange for the life of an academic- teaching originally was a way to cutback and have a shorter work week and summers off!!

So there I was, working a bit less, spending quality time with my kids, maintaining an adult relationship with my husband and trying to get a little ‘me-time’ in the form of exercise, reading or time with friends. I tried to dole out bits of free time as mini rewards for my efforts. A weeknight chick flick with a girl friend would be ‘paid for’ by spending a Sunday morning grading papers. A day volunteering at my kids’ school would have to be balanced with working an evening open house at the college. As my kids grew, the challenge to live a balanced life became even greater. Games, practices and dance recitals were time consuming and required lots of scheduling and even more compromise. I learned the benefits of multi-tasking (who says you can’t grade exams at a swim meet? Yes, I saw how you cut milliseconds off that last lap, I think.)

Today, I have two adult children who are thriving, a husband of 30+ years who I cherish and a rewarding job teaching at the college level. It is sometimes a struggle to find time to spend with friends, workout and write the Great American Romance Novel, but I’ve learned that it’s the price I pay for wanting to have it all. The knowledge that no matter how we slice it, there are still only 24 hours in a day. A happy home is more important than a clean one and time with friends and family always take precedence over everything else. Maybe I’ve confused ‘balance’ with perfection. Maybe my life has been pretty well-balanced after all!

Write Here, Write Now

With a nod to one of my favorite 90’s hits by Jesus Jones, I thought I would take a moment to comment on the subject of writing. For me, it is not a hobby or an escape. It has become my passion. I love to write. Dare I say it? I live to write. Maybe it’s because I feel like I have a story to tell. Quite a few of them as it turns out. JEEP TOUR was always going to be written. A love story set in Sedona AZ was just too freaking incredible to pass on. Guessing at Normal came out of left field, fueled by my years as a motel desk clerk and the late great Dan Fogelberg’s visit. Now I’m finishing up a sequel to JT called Driving on the Left inspired by my daughter Hayley and our trip to Ireland. Despite my best efforts to keep them quiet, two more stories are starting to take shape. Second Guessing will follow Jill’s life as a successful songwriter and her challenges dating and being a single parent. The second is less clear, but it’s a lovestory based on actual people and events in the late 19th century. More to follow!! But for now, I invite you to sit back and enjoy a song just about guaranteed to put a smile on your face!!