Opportunities that come knocking at your door require you to be there to open it. You’ll never know your proverbial ship has arrived if you are spending all of your time at the airport. Life requires us to show up and be there – engaged – to seize the opportunities that are ours for the taking.
Today’s world is different and for the young men and women who are entering the world, it brings new challenges that as leaders, parents and teachers we must emulate. The immediacy of digital everything makes some of what is needed to thrive in life today a big challenge. The 24/7 availability of information and the constant barrage of communication can be our friend or our foe. Our challenge is to harness it all properly and use it to help us be focused, available and on top of the details necessary to build a successful life.
The idea of showing up can take on many forms. Here’s a few key facets of what it means to me:
Be there physically. It is easy today with Face Time, Skype, WebEx and the other digital communication tools to connect with friends, family and colleagues. And while no one can argue the convenience, cost-effectiveness and accessibility these tools offer, the smart folks will also agree that there are times when they simply are not appropriate. Critical moments require the human element; the touch of another human, the clarity that comes with looking someone in the eye, the body language that signals emotions and buying signals that are hard to replicate in the digital world. Know when it makes sense to be there and when literally showing up will enable you to achieve the results required.
Be there wholeheartedly. I am as guilty as the next person for allowing the modern world to barrage me with distracting messages. The constant noise that comes from texts, the television, even music, at times, stands in the way of me giving my attention completely in some conversations. I remember the uninterrupted meals, meetings and family time of a decade ago, where it was unthinkable to take a phone call in the middle of a discussion with another. The ability to listen intently and ensure the other party feels my completely and undivided attention is impossible when I am monitoring my iPhone. Learning when to turn it off, or leave it out of sight, is a skill we all need to develop.
Be there ready to go when the starting bell sounds. There is no excuse today for anyone to be late for meetings or miss appointments. A quick “Ask Suri” can ensure your alarm clock is set, your coffee pot is brewing and you are out the door –with the briefcase you reminded yourself to grab — to your scheduled commitments with a few simple commands. Regardless of how much of a Jetson-like life you seek, the reality of today’s world is that there are few surprises and not being where you said you’d be – when you said you’d be there – is inexcusable. Human kindness and courtesy dictates nothing less. Unexpected delays require, at a minimum, a quick call or text to explain the circumstance and not leave others hanging.
Be informed. I am curious by nature and find that I can get the answer to just about anything, in a matter of minutes, with a few quick Google searches. Beyond the e-commerce and instantaneous news at my fingertips, I use my search engine capabilities often for some of the most bizarre or curious of reasons. Driving over a bridge that has memorialized someone makes me want to know who they were and why the bridge has been named in their honor. An impromptu meeting with a new colleague will go better if I take a few moments to check them out on LinkedIn and see what areas of common interests we share. My blog can be strengthened by a search on a quote or idea that can help me unearth materials and ideas that enable me to better communicate my ideas with you. When I show up — in print, in person or wherever — I always try to take the time to do a little research and be informed. The dividends are measurable!
Showing up is more than occupying a chair or dialing into a conference call. It is being an active participant, an active listener and someone who comes ready with ideas, knowledge and a willingness to participate.
And when you really show up, success is sure to follow.