Why showing up is everything
Have you noticed? That opportunities seem to chase some. But for several others...they spend their time chasing opportunities.
When or how does this happen? Is it possible to move from one phase to the other? From pursuing to being pursued.
And then when you see people that opportunities seem to chase...you see that they are not alien-like. They are, you know, like you and me.
But they seem to be doing one thing consistently. They show up.
I guess it was Woody Allen who said this - I don't know why he said it but he did - Eighty percent of life is showing up. And that's so true.
It doesn't matter whether they are prepared or not. Look their best or not. Feel enthusiastic or not. Have time or not. They show up.
Show up where? You ask.
It could be anywhere. At work, they show up for that odd-ball brainstorming meeting that they understand nothing about.
They show up at professional gatherings and stumble their way through shaking hands and introducing themselves to others.
They show up for that training class. That volunteer gathering. That celebration. That conference call. That coffee with you.
You know the ones I'm talking about. Where we all have a choice of not showing up.
While the rest go home to watch Netflix. They keep showing up, making it a habit until it almost becomes second nature.
Somehow, they seem to be the ones that opportunities buzz around.
It's not because they are the most charming. They could be. But it's not because of that. It's largely because they exist and make themselves useful to someone else.
Somehow they seem to have the time for you, you, and you, while the rest of the world is busy spinning itself around.
The story of a teacher who showed up all the time...
There was a star Michigan Ross professor I knew who showed up consistently. It came so easily to him.
Forget about others, let me first tell you how he made time for me.
When I was a student, he showed up to meet potential club members of Emerging Markets Club (a student club I was working for). My master plan was to have him show up in our club meeting and increase club membership. It worked. We were 20 before the talk. And I think 60+ after.
Then he'd show up to help us rally students to work on case studies. We ended up writing them along with him. And as a big surprise graduation gift, our cases ended up in a bookthat became a management best seller.
Then he'd show up for random dinners (he always paid for me). Teaching me on the side that business is really about social transformation. And how entrepreneurship is the noblest path of all. And why aspirations must always be greater then resources.
When I wanted to drop out of MBA school, he'd show up to encourage me - to say, fantastic - you should just do that random thing.
Then he'd show up...late night after dinner...to tear apart my business plan. And seed ideas that are relevant a decade later.
I sometimes would wonder how he had the time for me. A struggling student turned struggling entrepreneur. He would gift me hours and hours over the years. That would permanently shape my thinking.
He'd show up at the UN, at the World Bank, at various government offices across the world. One time, he told me he was meeting Richard Branson the next day. And then he'd show up in class - for students at Ross Michigan.
Years later, I met many, many others who felt exactly the same way as I did. He didn't show up just for me. He showed up for many others who needed him.
You must be wondering who this teacher was.
His name was C.K. Prahalad. And back then, I saw him steadily rise up the Thinker's 50 list to #1. Publish management bestsellers. Write HBR articles that changed the world. Consult with governments and Fortune 500 companies as though they were the same thing. Speak at conferences big and small. Chat up street retailers and board members within the same hour.
Yes, he clearly had that trait. And opportunities, people, and glory followed him wherever he went.
He showed up.