Last week, on Tuesday, I showed up to teach my social media/digital marketing class at the University of Minnesota. Unfortunately, only 11 people showed up. There are 34 kids in the class. Only one student sent me an email prior to class saying they would be out.
As we sat together in class and wondered aloud where the other 22 students were that did not show up for class, I shared with them a mantra I’ve been repeating to students since I started teaching as an adjunct in 2019: 90% of success is just showing up.
Now, I didn’t come up with that quote. Truth be told, I’m not sure who uttered it first. But, over the last 25+ year of my career, I’ve found it to be 100% true. Showing up is most of the work.
And, I’ll give you three relatively recent stories around why I’ve found this to be true.
First story: I’ve been writing and sending a weekly e-newsletter now for going on 9 years. What started as the “HAPPO Report (Help a PR Pro Out–those my age will know the reference!), has become my personal e-newsletter that’s full of local jobs, events, recognition and articles, posts and stories I’ve found interesting from the last week. I send it out every Friday morning. I send it out almost every week–the only weeks I really don’t send it are: holiday weeks and weeks when I’m on vacation. So, about 44-46 Fridays a year you’ll find that e-newsletter in your inbox. And, over the last few years, something interesting has happened. I started getting notes from subscribers. Notes like this one:
“I can’t tell you how much I LOVE getting your note each week in my inbox. I share it with others on my team and your insight is just wonderful. Thank you so very much for putting the time into this. You really do a great job.”
And this one:
“Long time reader, first time commenter. As someone whose position was recently eliminated, I find your content even more valuable now. And yes, it does make one smarter! So, thank you for all the work you put in to your weekly newsletters, it is greatly appreciated.”
I can’t tell you how much comments like this mean to me. And the only way this even happens is by me sending that e-newsletter out consistently, Friday after Friday for nine years. There have been many weeks where I didn’t think I could pull that thing together. But, I continue to show up. Friday after Friday after Friday.
Second story: My daughter, who’s a freshman at a local high school here in Minneapolis/St. Paul, recently joined crew for the fall musical (they did Grease, one of my all-time favorites). She went to after-school practice for a number of days this fall leading up to the production in mid-November. When the dates came out for the show, I guess the director said they could come to as many shows as they wanted to, but they didn’t need to go to all of them. My daughter chose to go to every single one–even though, technically, I don’t believe she was “working” every one of them. After the was over, we told her how proud we were of her for trying something new and sticking with it. But, I also made a point to tell her how important it was that she showed up for every practice, and every show. There’s no “success” outcome here yet (other than that she did the showing up part!) but I’d venture to guess if she sticks with this, continues to show up and does crew for the next few years, she not only will assume a leadership role as a result, she will have had one of the best collective experiences of her life. An experience that will most likely shape her in ways I can’t even understand or predict right now.
Final story: I meet up with a lot of people for coffee over the course of a year–even during the pandemic, I’ve actually had coffee with a surprising amount of people. But scheduling those coffees is often tough. And many times, it’s my fault. Historically, I like to joke that is takes 2-3 schedule changes before we actually have the coffee. Client meetings come up or shift. New business meetings pop up. Kids demand my time. Point is: I’ve rescheduled a lot of coffee meet-ups over the last 12 years. And, as of 2022, that is going to change. Part of “showing up” is making a plan, sticking to your word and showing up for that coffee. I haven’t held up my end of the bargain. So in 2022, I’m going to make a concerted effort to make those plans and keep them. It’s going to mean saying “no” or “can we find a different date/time” to clients and prospects (and maybe even my family). But, I’m going to work harder to keep the commitments I make–and start showing up more consistently that way.