Show Up

One year, a friend of mine had the great idea of running 12 races in 12 months.  I wasn’t exactly a committed runner at the time.  She told me that all I needed to do was show up, and the races would take care of themselves.  There’s something about the momentum of the crowd, and magnetism of the finish line, that drew me along.  Over time, in 12 months, I became faster and stronger in my runs.  Eventually, showing up wasn’t a struggle.

 Just show up. Keep running and the finish line will be a couple of steps away.

Just show up.
Keep running and the finish line will be a couple of steps away.

I had the occasion to show up for a meeting about a job that didn’t exist in an industry that I was made for.  I was convinced of it!  I made the call, I sent the email, and I was told that there was nothing.  The well was dry.  But I managed to get a coffee meeting out of it.  With that, I showed up.  I asked good questions and listened.  I said ‘yes’ to each what if statement.  And I landed my dream job.  I showed up.

A wise old prophet once said, “The first secret of success is showing up.”  Ok.  It wasn’t exactly a wise old prophet.  It was Woody Allen, and he said it was 80% of life.  But close enough.  Showing up matters, and sometimes you just have to commit to doing it.

Here are a few places where showing up really matters:

1.       Interviews and pitches—insert the ONE sports quote that I have memorized here, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”  Thank you, Mr. Michael Jordan.  ‘Tis true, if you don’t show up and give it your best, you will always get a know.  Show up.  Show up early.  Polish your shoes.

2.       Lunches, dinners, and parties that you have RSVP’d to.  Always show up for those planned events.  (This is your friendly reminder to also RSVP when invited.)  If someone has gone to the trouble of inviting you, please do go to the trouble of showing up.

3.       Funerals—of colleagues, clients, contacts, and even competition.  These funerals are no-brainers, I think.  But how about the loved ones of those in the list above?  People are really touched by the time spent honoring those dear to them, so show up.  Be there.  Be sincere.

4.       Launches and special events of friends and clients.  Showing up for celebrations is special, and the support that is shown by taking the time to recognize hard work goes a long way.


Can you add to my list?  I’ve never regretted showing up, but I’ve certainly regretted skipping out. 

Holly McIlwain is a former marathon runner, the mom of two rambunctious boys,
an executive coach, and director of practice for Leadership Development in the Talerico Group.