There’s an expression I’ve used all my life. Well at least from high school onward. It has been directional for me. it has been a curiosity to others. It’s been an annoyance to my children. And it still remains true to me today, albeit with a bit of a different context than I’ve used it in the past.
90% of life is about showing up.
A simple truth. How can we expect to have anything meaningful happen if we don’t engage, lead, participate, debate, support, agree, disagree, compete, listen, create, coach, etc? We can’t possibly “succeed” if we don’t show up! What’s the alternative? Sitting this one out. Shutting down. Passive resistance. Withdrawal. Life goes on without us.
So we show up by engaging the situation and doing our best. We play to win. And playing to win implies that “someone else” loses. When this is exercised at a company level that may not seem so bad … we win and our competitor loses. But sometimes this can manifest as smaller little battles within the organization. The “win” being something like my idea being adapted over someone else’s. Hopefully if we do win our idea was the best one, but that sometimes gets forgotten when we show up to win.
More recently, I’ve begun to see showing up in a different light. What if showing up meant being totally present … being tuned in from that part of us that is curious to learn, that loves to listen and understand and above all knows that we are better connected than separate? If we could show up with a strong desire to contribute, with a firm belief that by doing so we will grow as an individual. And by practicing true active listening skills we can truly hear what others long to contribute as well, and then draw that contribution into the greater good?
And now for the multiplier effect. We all have leadership responsibilities whether situational or formal. What if we exercised our leadership roles by “showing up present” instead of “showing up to win”? How would those we are leading respond differently? Imagine a team of highly engaged, connected people driven by a desire to contribute and grow? What could we accomplish then?
This isn’t always easy. I catch myself regularly wanting to win. Or worrying whether my contributions will be valued. And these things make it more difficult to listen actively. But when I do get it right I notice three things. We make better decisions, the people involved feel better about their involvement and and I move on to the next encounter much more joyfully and fulfilled. That, in the end, is a fabulous reward.