Simply Showing Up Is the Most Powerful Success Strategy of All
Deciding to be there is the biggest and most important step
There are many ways to tackle the desire to achieve a goal in life. You can seek out mentors, get more education, attend seminars, read more books, try lots of different things—all of these options are nice, and I’ve tried all of them.
One strategy, though, moves you closer to achieving your goal than anything else: showing up. Regina Brett, a well-known author, had a similar philosophy when she said:
“Most of life is showing up. You do the best you can, which varies from day to day.”
When I look at my writing career, the contrast between showing up and trying endless strategies is a clear example of the difference. I am not the best writer on Medium by a long shot. I’m the least educated writer and came close to completely screwing up high school. My English is crappy, and I have never taken a class on writing.
Despite all of that, I have shown up for a solid five years and written every week without fail. There are much better writers on Medium than me who write beautiful poems, come up with amazing metaphors, have awesome life experiences, and can write a story that will make you feel every emotion — from crying one moment to joy the next.
Yet, without any of the bells and whistles, I have carved out my niche on Medium and done well. That has come from mostly just showing up.
A Cure for Lacking Skill
Skill is awesome to have, and I have absolutely none of it.
Even in the business world, I had no education, mentors or experience. The result of being a successful entrepreneur in my 20’s when all my friends were working in bars and struggling to pay their bills came down to the grueling task of showing up.
That meant showing up when we had to fire all of our staff, showing up when there was no money in the bank, showing up when every sales call I made resulted in the prospect hanging up on me.
The cure for skill was having a disproportionate amount of time in the game—in simple terms, showing up.
When I had a sore throat or the flu, I showed up to the gym, to work, and to do my creative work.
When I just broke up with my high school girlfriend, and my dog died on the same day, somehow, I still showed up.
When I walked away from a business I loved and battled mental illness, I kept showing up believing that something good was right around the corner.
Showing up despite the circumstances is how you make up for the skill or experience you lack. The process of showing up brings more insight and value than not showing up and waiting for the right time or enough skills/experience.
“There is absolutely nothing that you can control except showing up and doing your job”—Tituss Burgess
Some Other Benefits of Showing Up
1. Having work to reference
Showing up allows you to create work, which gives you work that you can reference and learn from.
I have published thousands of articles on Medium, LinkedIn, and a blog called Addicted2Success, which has given me an archive of work.
This tells me what experience resonates with an audience, what topics matter, what the common questions are in my field, what people enjoy and dislike, and what advice is useless and helpful.
2. A path of progress
Showing up also gives you a path of progress to look back on and examine. I can read something I wrote back in 2014 and see what sort of writer I was, what I believed, the lies I told myself, what I was doing, and so on.
Seeing who you are and who you have become allows you to see two things:
- What is possible for your life.
- What tools your future self will need.
3. Have an audience to ask questions to
Showing up has been especially helpful for me because it has given me an audience and readers who ask insightful questions.
Questions are a powerful trigger for deep thinking, and you can’t always come up with the best ones on your own.
Questions from my readers have given me ways of seeing the world differently and seeing a bit of myself in every reader I talk with.
4. Have experience rather than theoretical strategies
Theory is something that makes me sleepy a lot of the time.
Theory looks beautiful, but without action, it is just an illusion in your mind.
Nothing beats showing up and putting your theories, ideas, and assumptions to the test to see if they are real. You can touch and feel experience, whereas theory is intangible.
I can prove a point or an idea by showing up and having experience, whereas my theories are useless in isolation.
You Must Show Up on the Good Days and the Bad
Otherwise, everything I have said so far is a waste. If you only show up on the good days, you won’t get the mindset and valuable experiences that the bad days bring with them.
If you can show up right after your mother’s funeral, then, amigo, you can show up after anything.
That is not just a strategy but an unstoppable form of motivation and determination that no one can beat.
If you are burned out from consuming success strategies, reading more books, and trying to find that one breakout path to overnight success, try showing up.
- Pick an area of your life.
- Take action.
- Do so for a few years.
You will then see what I have realized: showing up is the most powerful strategy. Showing up is not everything in life, but geez, it’s a bloody big part of it.