How to keep showing up!

In the fall of my second year in business school, my friend, Candy, who’d just completed a summer job and been offered a full time post by that company for after graduation, had to go to a company recruiting cocktail party on top of studying for mid-term exams. Trying to put myself in her shoes, I sympathized with her time crunch, as well as the stress I thought this would bring (or it would have brought for me).

Candy looked at me with a wry smile, and laughed softly, “Oh, no, this isn’t stressful! All I have to do is show up. I’m good at showing up!” She continued, “I’ll get brownie points for showing up. That’s  really all I have to do —  show up and say ‘hi’ to a few people I know, so that they know I’m there, as part of the team. I don’t have to impress anyone — they’ve already offered me the job. I don’t even have to talk to the recruiters much; they’re more interested in prospects they don’t know.”

This idea that sometimes, all you have to do is show up, stuck with me. Or as Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

I’m reminded to mention this now, because I personally have a lot to show up for at the moment. In fact, it seems never ending — the weekly radio show, the clients, my other businesses which seem to constantly need something, let alone friends and family. (Did I mention taking the barest of acquaintances in for surgery last week because he had no one else?)

I’m actually really good at showing up. I know not everyone is, though, and I think that’s mostly caused by lack of motivation. So how do you maintain your motivation?

  • Keep reminding yourself of the big picture — when you see how a tiny action can really help with the big goals of your life, you’ll keep on showing up for the little stuff.
  • Remember that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step“, as Lao-Tzu said. Yes, you have to take a lot of those single steps, but only one is the first one, and the ‘showing up’ ones are pretty easy.
  • Ask yourself, “How much effort is this really? How can I systematize this so that I can do it with almost no effort?” For example, if you’re a coffee drinker, you have surely devised a system to make coffee so efficiently that you barely notice making it any more. You can do that with many things in life.
  • Try to find the fun — or something positive — in showing up.

Last week, I had a computer nightmare (believe me, you don’t want to know the details!). Showing up to deal with it sucked. But the big picture is that I need that computer to run my businesses, and to do the radio show. The first step was to try to do the updates I needed by myself, using all the online help available in forums. When that wasn’t enough, I called Apple for help. When that wasn’t enough, the online help desk made me an appointment at the local Apple Store for help. When they couldn’t solve my problem, they sent me to an outside company who is one of Apple’s premium service sites.

There, I met the owner, who is not only the most competent Mac person I’ve ever met (he almost solved my problem completely, and told me how to do the rest myself), but also turned out to be interested in a lot of things I’m interested in that have nothing to do with computers — star visitors, the unfairness of our current economic system, angels, the effects of vibrations, etc. We had a fascinating conversation that went on long past the completion of my computer issues. Meeting this man turned out to be the ‘something positive‘ in showing up.