I was watching a movie recently in which the lead character was up for a prestigious award. While she was visiting an elderly shut-in, the subject of the award came up. The shut-in confidently stated that the woman deserved to win the award. But the nominee wasn’t certain she was worthy of such recognition, so she questioned the elderly woman. “Why do you think so?” the nominee asked. “Because you just show up and that is to be commended” came the certain response.
You see, to the elderly shut-in, nothing was more important than having someone show up each and every day. The fact that the woman delivered her meals each day was probably less important than the company she provided.
Woody Allen once said, “90 percent of success in life is just showing up.” I think there’s a lot of truth in that.
Think for a moment about the number of people who make a New Year’s resolution to get into better shape and lose some weight. Who hasn’t made that resolution? Come January, the gyms are packed with the newly committed. But for most, it doesn’t last. By February, the numbers have noticeably dwindled as many just stop showing up. And by the time November and December roll around, the gyms are only being frequented by the regulars who show up every day. Guess who is in shape? The ones who show up.
I can remember as a teenager learning the significance of showing up. It was the summer before my freshman year in high school. The football team was gathered for a preseason meeting and the coach was lecturing us on what was expected. Speaking directly to the freshmen, who were ready to embark on their first season on the high school team, the coach pointed at one senior and said, “If you want to be the best football player you can be, follow his example.”
The senior who was singled out seemed as surprised as all of us freshmen were. You see, the coach didn’t point to any one of a number of “stars” on the team. But he did explain his choice of a role model for us. The coach told us that what that player did was show up. The senior came to practice every day ready to work and improve. He showed up in the weight room year round, always working to get better. The coach talked about dependability, reliability, and dedication. That message stuck with me.
The same can be said about your team at work. Don’t undervalue the people who “just” show up. Their consistency, dependability, and dedication counts for a lot. Consider the salesperson who day in and day out knocks on the most doors. He may not be the most polished salesperson on the team, but somehow his ability to show up every day results in him being on top of the sales charts each month. Or you might have a department assistant who is always ready, willing, and able to take on the next assignment. He doesn’t worry about what it is, he just wants to contribute. By showing up every day willing to pitch in, he becomes a valuable part of the team.
Let me be clear, when I say “just show up,” I mean coming in each day willing to work. Showing up means coming in with the right attitude. I want people who want to do their job well. The ones who are dedicated and willing to work. The ones who take pride in their work. But it all starts with showing up each and every day. That consistent effort turns into expertise and expertise turns into results.
In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell maintains that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert in a specific endeavor. Ten thousand hours of practicing one task. That’s a lot of showing up! You don’t get to that level if you’re not consistent. You don’t get to that level if you’re not dependable. You don’t get to that level if you’re not dedicated. It all starts with showing up.