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Ya gotta show up

June 22, 2019

I have, at times, referred to myself as a “serial entrepreneur,” meaning I have started multiple businesses, none of them at the same time. (What the word more accurately describes is the person who starts one business after another in relatively rapid succession, but this is my blog, so there. Nah!) It was during my efforts at starting number two (if your inner and giggling adolescent is activated by this, please keep it to yourself) that I learned something really important. Because it was an industry with which I was completely unfamiliar, I was going to every pertitent seminar I could afford, reading every relevant book and asking questions of every successful person I could find in the industry. It was during the question-asking portion that someone said something that made a huge difference, both in my business and in my life.

The man I was talking to/asking questions of was already immensely successful in the field. He said (my paraphrase) “You’re here, which is a huge advantage over almost everyone else. The single biggest part of your success, in terms of what you do (as opposed to how you think) is simply showing up.” It took me a little while to understand that “showing up” covered a lot of ground. It meant running my business like a business instead of running it like a hobby. It meant actively learning all I could. It meant doing, day in and day out, all the little things (including and especially the ones I disliked doing) that made the big things possible.*

To paraphrase (and twist the words of) “Red” Sanders, “showing up is not the only thing, but it is everything.”

There was a question on Quora recently that went something like this: Is atheism the wave of the future? There were quite a few answers. The one pertinent to this post was given by Tom Kratman.** Its basic points, as I recall, were these:

  1. People learn their most basic values at home.
  2. Religious people tend to be more conscientious and conistent in their efforts to pass on their values to their kids than are the non-religious.
  3. Sincere adherents of religion tend to have more kids than other people.

Then, he gave his conclusion: the future belongs to those who show up. To put it another way, historically, religious people have shown up more consistently and in greater numbers than have the non-religious and the non-believers.

If I don’t have what I want, there’s a very good chance it’s because I haven’t bothered to consistently show up. Do I take classes to learn what I don’t know? Do I read things that will help me become better at what I do? Do I set goals (using a system like SMART goals)? Do I budget my money and my time? Do I give my life the same sort of conscientious attention I give my job? Do I do, every day, all the little things, including the ones I don’t want to do, that will help me get where I want to go? In other words, can I be bothered to take the time to just show up for the life I say I want?

Stuff like this isn’t complicated. It’s actually pretty simple. The tendency to make it complicated, to describe it as complicated, is easy to explain. If it’s simple, then we can probably do it. We just have to put forth a little effort, every day. Of course, that means we’re going to have to change. The problem with that is that we are human. Humans don’t like change because causes discomfort and we don’t like discomfort. So, we convince ourselves it’s complicated. And now, because it’s complicated, we get to be lazy and we get to avoid discomfort, including the discomfort brought on by the simplicity that leaves us nowhere to hide.

Wouldn’t it be better to just show up?

*Almost inarguably, this is an enormous reason (as in, the reason) I’m not yet a published author. I simply have not committed to showing up. That’s one I have to change.

**Sadly, I have been unable to find the link to either the question or to Tom Kratman’s response. The latter is particularly unfortunate, not only because he deserves full credit for his answer, but because he wrote it in his very unique style.

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  1. OldNFO permalink

    Agreed! And we were ‘taught’ to show up. The military is good for that… 🙂

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