“Hardwork spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.” Sam Ewing
Woody Allen apparently coined the quotation, “90% of success is showing up.” Although BrainyQuote has him with several versions of this quote and varying percentages – 90, 80 and 70% – Perhaps he has changed his mind over time!
While I am inclined to a lower percentage, (say 51%), as someone who runs a GED program at a community college, I know the biggest challenge for many of our students is just getting to our classes. Our students have lots of road-blocks in their way: few come from a supportive family, most are experiencing grinding poverty, many have learning disabilities, few have faith in their ability to actually succeed and graduate. Every day they show up is a small victory, for them and for us, and our job often starts by getting them to believe in themselves.
I agree, therefore, that showing up is crucial. Without that, nothing else can happen. Sometimes, with our students, I feel like a motivational speaker. “Just come….the only way you will fail is if you never try!”
So the first task to showing up is overcoming the resistance we all have (I’ll just sleep 10 more minutes; I’ll start that diet tomorrow; I’m too stressed to do that right now. I’ll never make it, so why try.) We have to bring ourselves to the place where we can begin. Then we have to keep showing up, day by day, keeping our commitment.
In my writing, that means sitting down at the computer, facing a blank white page, and then that last percentage kicks in: doing something with it. That is the part that is more than showing up. That where the real work starts. For this blog, first there is preparation. I people watch or think about something I have noticed. Then I do research or find quotations. Then….I sit down and face the blank page.
If you think about it, everything begins with a blank page: new relationships, a job you start, a home you buy, the person you want to become, the thing you want to learn. Then, you start one word at a time, one note at a time, one moment at a time, one act at a time, one class at a time. You don’t have to play a sonata the first time you sit at a piano, or lift 200 pounds the first time you go to the gym. You won’t be the perfect baker the first time you turn on the oven. But you can do anything you want to do if you keep at it. It may be hard work, but you can. You have to want it, stick to it, and you’ll do it.
That’s character. “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” my mom would say. I’d add, “and neither are you.” Character and fortitude don’t come cheap…you have to earn them one day at a time. And dreams…well, dreams seldom fall into our laps, wishing rarely makes them come true. Hard work on the other hand….ah, you get the idea. Go on, there’s a blank page out there waiting for you to write your name on it.