In 2009, I traveled about half as much as I had in previous years. Part of that was due to the fact that a number of adult ed programs where I’d taught had disappeared. Part of it was my desire to be a homebody for a while.
Nevertheless, that didn’t mean I hibernated. I kept showing up in new ways and in new places. I became a regular contributor to Vibrant Nation and regularly sent things to EzineArticles. I launched Follow Through Camp. I got serious about this blog. Most significantly, I became a raving fan of Twitter where I found kindred spirits and fabulous resources. Even as I stayed home, my world expanded.
I also was repeatedly alarmed by all the followers on Twitter and friends on Facebook who never bothered to show up after setting up their account. The majority of them never posted a word. I kept wondering what they were waiting for.
Woody Allen’s observation about just showing up is one of the most repeated quotes on success. And, yet, there are more people NOT showing up than there are those jumping in, meeting people, trading ideas, getting inspired.
Sometimes showing up is an act of integrity. Several years ago when Karyn Ruth White was launching her speaking business, she booked a class at Discover U in Seattle. Shortly before she was to fly there from Denver, she got a call from the program director saying that only six people had signed up so Karyn was free to cancel, if she wanted.
Although this meant she’d be losing money, Karyn’s response was, “If there are six people who want to know about using humor as a stress management tool, I’ll be there.”
As it happened, one of those six students loved Karyn’s class so much that she went back to her employer, Microsoft, and convinced them to book the seminar in-house. Of course, Karyn had no way of knowing that this was going to happen, but it was a powerful reminder of the importance of showing up when you said you would.
Another argument I hear about not showing up comes from folks just getting started who think they haven’t got much to contribute. Or perhaps they’re busy comparing themselves to more accomplished folks (who’ve been at it longer).
So when should you show up? After you’re a huge success? Sorry. It doesn’t work that way.
Here’s what the late Jim Rohn thought about that attitude: “A guy says, ‘Oh, if I had a big organization, then I’d really pour it on. But I just have a few and I don’t know where they’re at.’ If you just have a few distributors, that’s the time to sharpen your skills of communication and pour it on. When there are just a few, give it all you’ve got.”
Obviously, Rohn was addressing folks in direct sales, but his wisdom applies to novices as well as pros: Interacting is how we sharpen our skills. Doesn’t it follow that the more you show up, the sharper you’ll get?
If you only make one change in the coming year, I’d suggest that you make Showing Up your new hobby. Keep looking for ways to do just that and you’re bound to amaze and astonish yourself—while sharing your unique perspectives and gifts with the world.
Why wouldn’t you?
Wonder if spending time on Twitter is a waste of time? Read what author Tyler Cowen has to say about that in his piece from Fast Company magazine.