33.33% of Life Is Just Showing Up! (September 2008)

According to the internet, Woody Allen is responsible for the quote: “90% of Life Is Just Showing Up”. While I’m not sure what the exact percentage should be, I’d argue that it’s no more than one-third. While showing up is necessary, it’s rarely sufficient to accomplishing very much at all.

Amazingly, there are times that people don’t even bother to show up. And I mean this quite literally. I’ve seen people go through the interview process, get the job, and then just not show up on the first day of employment. If I hadn’t seen it more than once, I’d have assumed it was a fluke; but it’s not. I’ve witnessed it twice during the past several quarters and it just makes me wonder what people must be thinking!?

Furthermore, is it really even worth anyone’s time if all that someone does is just show up? Frankly, there is more to it than that. Whatever you are doing, it’s worth doing more than just showing up. You only get out of any endeavor what you put into it. And it takes more than mailing in a performance.

We all have days when it takes everything we have just to show up and get through the task at hand. But on most days, it takes a lot more than just showing up to make anything happen be it in business, sports, personal lives, etc.

So rather than thinking that 90% of it is just showing up, perhaps it’s more reasonable to think that 33.33% of life is showing up, 33.33% of life is preparing, and 33.33% of life is about being in the moment and being fully engaged in the task at hand.

I used to train in karate (I hate saying “used to”). I can assure you that karate is a pursuit where just showing up won’t cut it. It might surprise many to know that when training in karate one never gets hit. Really, it’s true. Rather, one fails to block a punch or kick from an opponent. While the result (ending a class bruised and battered) is the same, the attitude and the discipline that philosophy instills are quite different. It’s not about being there and something happening to you, it’s about being responsible for what happens (whether it’s good or bad).

Business, like life, isn’t about just showing up. It’s a mix of preparation, being in the right position, and execution. As you think about your business, think about the areas where people, departments, divisions, etc. believe that 90% of life is just showing up. These are opportunity areas where you can improve performance. Tell them that you heard only 33.33% of life is just showing up and start to question the other two-thirds of their time (sorry, Woody).

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