Keep Showing Up
80 percent of success is just showing up.— Anonymous
Desiree Linden, who this week became the first American woman to win the Boston Marathon in 33 years, had thought of leaving the race early on. She had every reason to quit: It was cold, rainy, and windy, and she wasn’t feeling well.
But Linden has a philosophy that keeps her going. As she Tweeted on March 5th:
Some days it just flows and I feel like I’m born to do this, other days it feels like I’m trudging through hell. Every day I make the choice to show up and see what I’ve got, and to try and be better. My advice: keep showing up.
This is my philosophy as well. Just show up every day and do the work. The results will take care of themselves. Too many of us live in the future, or regret the past, and forget to just show up in the present.
Linden could have quit in 2011, when she missed first place in the Boston Marathon by seconds. But instead, the two-time Olympian kept coming back.
True to her philosophy, she ran in this week’s race, despite facing especially tough conditions:
It was such a miserable day, and when things go awry, they can kind of ding you up for a while and also take time out of your career. I'm on the back half of my career, so I have to be super careful at this point. And early on, I was freezing and my muscles were tight, and I was like 'This isn't – this is not my day.' So, I did kind of toy around with the idea of stepping off.
Instead, Linden decided to help fellow American runner Shalane Flanagan:
We had talked about it a little earlier on in the race when I knew I might be stepping off. I said, ‘Hey, if you need help with anything along the way, I'm happy to run through the wind for you and just kind of be a block or whatever you might need.’
And so she nudged me later and said, ‘Hey, I'm going to do the port-a-potty thing.’ And I was like, ‘OK, well, I'll try to run you back into the group.’ And we got back up there. We reconnected. There was just so much pride on the American side this year. We wanted it so bad. Thirty-three years since an American winner, and I felt like there was some team camaraderie out there.’
Show up for one more minute
Linden said that earlier in her career she would obsess about whether she was having a positive day or a negative day, but finally decided to put an end to her obsessing:
I decided to stop thinking about each day so much, and just keep showing up. Like, whatever the day gave me, just show up. That's kind of how I attacked the race, too. Once I got over the fact that I wasn't going to drop out, it was like, ‘Just show up for one more mile. Show up for one more minute.’ And that was kind of my mantra throughout this entire build and through the entire race day on Monday.
We can all learn a deep lesson from Linden’s approach. There’s power in creating habits that allow us to show up. I ran a marathon and a few half-marathons, and I know that consistent training is the key to success.
It’s like that in life, too.
We stop ourselves from taking action.
We hesitate and play out the negative scenarios that will take place.
We imagine the worst; so we don’t show up.
We let inertia win.
Simply starting the process can be the greatest challenge in most of the personal and business challenges we face each day. Here are a few examples of situations where the hardest part is getting started:
An exercise workout? Getting dressed and traveling to the gym.
Volunteering to do that thing that scares you? Raising your hand.
Working on a major presentation? Putting your messages on paper.
This is why I advise college students to start internships and stick with them. When you show up in front of people, they see you and will begin to know, like, and trust you. It gives you a huge step above others for the next job.
I recently experienced this with a friend I’m mentoring. We were meeting at Starbucks and she told me she had applied for a part-time job she really wanted at a cool local small business. In fact, she had applied twice online. I told her she needed to walk in and meet the owners.
As we talked she became the negative spokesperson for business owners she had never met: She argued that they’re too busy; they probably didn’t like her background; they don’t think she’s qualified.
I said, “That’s it. Get your resume. I’m driving you over there right now.” We drove up. I parked. After some bolstering, she finally got out of the car and walked to the door. She looked back at me and made that uncertain face. I signaled to smile and be confident.
About 20 minutes later she came out with a smile but also a look of surprise on her face. They were going to hire her, pending a background check. She showed up!
One of the ways I decided to show up was writing this weekly newsletter almost three years ago. I had a friend who blogged weekly and I said, I could never do that! How do you come up with ideas – EVERY WEEK?!!
He said you just show up and write. Once you get started, the process takes over and ideas will flow. Of course, he was right. I’ll be coaching a CEO or working with a team of leaders and someone will mention their fear, concern, or obstacle and I’ll say, “Thanks for the Sunday Coffee!” and I’ll write down the idea.
There are plenty of days I don’t feel like writing after a long week of travel, like this beautiful Saturday morning, but I keep showing up for you, my readers, but also as a commitment to myself.
How about you? Are you showing up and doing the work?
What have you been holding back on in business or in life?
Showing up is a full commitment, the discipline to be there when you don’t feel like it, to be all in.
Life is not always easy, but take Boston Marathon winner Desiree Linden’s advice: Keep showing up.
To share with me how you intend to show up you can send me a message on our contact form.
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