Throughout my life I’ve been asked many times about my success. “How do you get to travel so much?” “How are you able to convince others to pay for your travel?” “How are you so lucky?” How.. How.. How. The answer to all of this is exceedingly simple. I did not grow up in a wealthy family. I did not have extraordinary circumstances. It was also most certainly not just luck. The secret to my success is that I showed up. But showing up can be trickier than it sounds. Let me tell you the story of when I first started showing up.
Showing Up: My First Time
So what is the big deal about showing up? We all do it every day when we go to school, or attend afternoon practice, and finally when we return home. This might not sound like a special tactic to success, but I assure you that it is.
My story began when I was 16 years old. I was attending a summer camp which had various community and business leaders come speak to us about leadership. One of these speakers was a representative of the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program. She told us about the program and how Rotary has a global network of community leaders eager to engage the next generation. She told us that Rotary provides for an early foundation of cross-cultural understanding through an exchange program which they fully fund. Rotary also makes all of the arrangements for schooling, living with a local family and participating in community events. The representative told us about living in Italy, Brazil, New Zealand and the Philippines, and that this only scratched the surface of the opportunity being presented in front of us.
And here is the moment that changed my life forever…
Upon the conclusion of the presentation, the speaker invited any interested student to come speak with her in private for more information. I thought to myself, ‘that is a line I MUST get in!’ But when the session ended, the other 50 students rushed outside for the water balloon toss and I was the only person who expressed interest. The result: one year later I embarked on a 12-month program to Germany! And this happened to me, instead of one of those other students, because I showed up when no one else did.
When To Show Up
There are strategies for choosing when to show up. After all, time and energy are finite so you do need to be at least a bit choosy about where to focus your efforts. However, the best advice I can give is said very nicely by the old cliché, “the only way to guarantee failure, is to never try at all.” That is to say, you should always try to the extent of your greatest ability.
You and your own self-doubt are your own worst enemy. It’s human nature, so don’t feel too bad about that. In fact, I encourage you to embrace the fact that all people have doubts and all people hesitate to go for what they most want. This truth is why showing up matters so much, since most people never do show up. If you are the one in the room with the hand raised, or you are the one who has submitted an application, you are now among the elite few who have shown up, and this puts you at serious risk of getting exactly what it is you want.
When opportunity comes knocking or someone invites you to learn more about an opportunity, I challenge you to approach your response with this quote in mind:
Every Day. Every Time. Without Fail. No Exceptions – Paul Cummings, CEO of Woople