Sometimes success is just showing up

By Taimi Gorman, owner of Gorman Publicity

“Eighty percent of success is showing up.”…..Woody Allen

I was a moody teenager going through a rough time when I tearfully announced at dinner that I was not going to my crocheting class anymore because it was just too hard. As much as I wanted to make those now hideously tacky blankets so popular in the ‘70s, I couldn’t get the stitches right and the teacher was much more comfortable working with the middle-aged ladies in the class than a sulky 14 year old.

My parents, both teachers themselves, would have none of it. They made it clear that I had signed up for the class and I was going to finish it. Sure enough, I eventually figured out how to do it and made a scarf for my favorite bus driver. They also made me practice my cello, get to school on time and finish college. They taught me how important it was to show up and follow through. Those skills have been invaluable to me as a business owner, when not completing one project could mean a domino-failure of many more.

It’s too easy to find excuses when things get hard, to not show up, not finish what we start, not do the things we promise, or be not completely present in a passive/aggressive way. I see it when I work with boards, committees, clubs, and businesses. The behavior suggests an inability to make a decision to commit entirely or leave. Instead, people remain in a half-present limbo of doing the minimum required.

Showing up is not something you do just physically it’s a mental thing, too. Businesses suffer as much from an apathetic staff as they do absenteeism. A savvy manager knows when an employee is wrong for the job and either lets them go or places them elsewhere (and lets them know why). Being present to your staff gives you more opportunities to motivate and train. For someone stuck in the wrong job, dedicating oneself to doing your best even when it’s uncomfortable is a mark of maturity.

Not being present is rude as well as ineffective. I see people at meetings answering text messages while others are talking. Board members arrive late or don’t show up at all, or take calls and walk out of the room. Business owners make appointments and then blow them off because the person was a salesperson or someone they decided wasn’t as important as they are.

Colleagues don’t answer e-mails or phone calls and use the “busy” excuse as though their time is more valuable than yours. A reputation for such behavior travels fast in a small community, and you never know when you might have to work on another level with someone you dismissed as unimportant.

We all have the same number of hours in every day. How we use them is more within our control than we think. Showing up mentally as well as physically is a challenge in an extremely multi-task business world, but we have to make more of an effort than ever before, not just because it’s polite, it’s also good business.

Ready to show up?

  • Don’t offer to do things you either don’t want to do or don’t have time for
  • Give people the full measure of your attention when talking – even on the phone
  • Come prepared, take notes and follow up
  • Turn off the cell phone during a personal meeting or ask permission if you must take a call, even (and especially) with a subordinate
  • Keep your appointments and call if you are going to be more than 10 minutes late
  • Be tactful but truthful in your interactions so others don’t have to guess your motives or play games
  • Mean what you say and do what you promise

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