The secret to career success is just showing up — from the Career Opportunities Podcast

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“80% of success is showing up” — Woody Allen

The older I get the more I begin to see the wisdom in Allen’s quote. Throughout my life I have seen those who “show up” in life and work and those who constantly talk about what they want to do/might do/do if they only had the time. Perhaps is more a part of life in Los Angeles, but I get the feeling that people all over the world are faced with great problems in simply showing up. They can invent 101 excuses why they didn’t show up, but can’t seem to find the one reason , the one project, the one exciting moment where they show up and become fully involved in their life and work. What is worse is these same people often spend an inordinate amount of time bemoaning their fate. They blame everyone and everything else except the one person, the one thing, the one place where the fault really lies — themselves.

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Harsh? Sure, it can be harsh to look at yourself and your actions in this light, but facing the truth of life can often be a harsh realization. There are times when I look back over my own career and see times when I failed to “show up” and lost opportunities that I had been given. I think that is true of all people. Yes, there are always obstacles in the way of our life and career success. Sometimes that success isn’t under our control, but I see far more times when we fail to take control, fail to take the opportunities we are given. We might try to blame the bad boss for a missed opportunity, but if we look deeply enough, we can see that it was our own inaction, our own fears, our own flight from success that was the true problem. At some point we decided that it was far easier to run away from opportunity than face the consequences.

So how do you learn to “show up” in your life? First, you must learn to do the bare minimum. You may not believe it, but simply showing up puts you ahead of 80% (if not 99%) of the other people in the world. You know its true. You’ve probably seen it at work in your own life and career. Have you ever seen anyone come in for an interview unprepared, poorly dressed (due to inattention, not money), sullen or even drunk or high? They may be showing up physically but they are not showing up mentally and professionally. I am sure that none of you would ever do something like this, so already you have jumped the line in any job, project or opportunity you might be pursuing. It is amazingly easy to improve your odds of career success by doing the simplest things — the bare minimums — because there are so many others who do not.

Next, show up by recognizing and accepting the opportunities that show up in your life. I wrote an entire column on the concept of opportunity and also a speaking engagement on the same topic. Too often, we — and I include myself among you — ignore the opportunities that come into our lives. Sometimes we don’t recognize them as opportunities. Sometimes we simply ignore them and at other times the opportunities simply scare us so much that we run away. This is the antithesis of showing up. This is hiding away from the very opportunities that could change our lives forever. Surely you must recognize that if you do this — if you hide from opportunity — or worse, run away from it, you are doing yourself a great disservice.

It is so easy to “show up” in so many ways, It is so easy to rise above the crowd in your life and work, simply by doing the bare minimums that others cannot do. If you show up on a regular basis I think it means more than just 80% of your success. In some ways, I think it can becomes even more important. I think that showing up can be 90, 99, 100% of building the career that you deserve. I don’t think there are any true “secrets” to career success, but showing up is probably as close to a secret as you can get. If you can show up more often, your life and career could become richer, stronger and even easier.


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