Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lesson #13: Showing Up Is 50%

I have occasionally been asked how I have been able do it?  The book, the license, the soap interviews, how did I get here?  My answer is short and clear:  I showed up.

The simple importance of showing up in our lives cannot be overstated.  There is no substitute for being physically present at an event, a meeting, an appointment.  It is usually the person who shows up consistently who is rewarded with promotions, contracts, and new opportunities.  I can't think of one person who has achieved a modicum of success in their lives who has not attested to value of showing up.  Wasn't it Madonna who showed up at the hospital bedside of the President of Sire Records, as he was recovering from heart surgery,  in order to get her first record contract signed?

In my own life, showing up has served me well.  I met David Hancock, the incredibly smart and generous CEO of Morgan-James Publishing by showing up to a workshop where he spoke about entrepreneurial publishing.  I talked to him afterward about my idea for "Absolutely Should-less," and he was willing to accept a proposal.  I don't believe my book would have been published if not for that physical meeting.

How did I get to do all these interviews with soap stars? I showed up.  First I showed up to a concert given by the vastly talented and underrated Ilene Kristen in New York City. At that show I met Roger Newcomb for the first time, and Ilene herself, who gave me my first interview.  Following that I kept showing up for events that Roger would show up for as well, and we bonded over fond memories of watching soaps as kids, love for certain actors/actresses, and intense debates about supercouples on Another World.  So when he was looking to expand We Love Soaps into a multi-purpose website that would include video, commentaries, interviews, and psychological perspectives, he asked me to join him, in part, because I showed up.

Roger and I have done a lot of showing up over the past two years, and have had a blast covering the Emmy Awards, theater openings, book signings, HIV/AIDS fundraisers, as well as producing several of our own award ceremonies and special fan events.  We have worked hard to gain the trust and respect of the actors/actresses that we so admired growing up.  And how were we able to do it? All together now: we showed up.  Over and over, we showed up with honesty, integrity, and authentic respect.

Many times people have responded to this lesson by saying, "But I don't feel like it."  That stance will not help get what you want.  I have seen very bright and very loving individuals lose out on amazing opportunities because they don't show up when they don't feel like it.   But how often do you feel like brushing your teeth?  How often do you feel like waking up in the morning?  How often do you feel like taking the garbage out, cleaning the toilet, running to the grocery store?  All of us have lives made up of performing a great amount of tasks we didn't feel like doing.  It is important to show up even at the moments you just don't feel mentally and emotionally well.

I'm not saying that you have to be like a drill sergeant.  I do believe in the value of taking time out if you are truly ill, contagious, or too overwhelmed with grief of sadness to be mentally present.  But as a way of life, or as a pattern, calling out sick will not lend itself to enabling people to trust you with important tasks.  If you are having trouble showing up in your own life, then please ask for help.  Helping people show up physically and mentally in their every day lives is one of the specialties in my private practice, and many therapists and coaches are quite skilled in this area. 

There is nothing valuable in my life at this moment that wouldn't be here if I didn't show up.  I wouldn't have a therapy practice, a career, a book, and lots of joy, if I didn't show up.  Knowing this fundamental and basic lesson helps me to feel more empowered and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead as I grow older.  

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City. He specializes in issues related to addiction, ageism, bullying, caretaking fatigue, grief and loss, gay/lesbian issues, stress management, depression, as well as couples in non-traditional arrangements. He is the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." To have him speak with your group, or to schedule a counseling visit, call 347-227-7707, or email at

**If you are in the New York City area, please SHOW UP for Damon's "Fabulous at Forty" workshop on Monday, April 25th, at 8pm, at 208 W. 13th Street, Room 410**

1 comment:

-C said...

Damon! This is so true. I posted the link on Facebook and RT'd. I would ask myself in the middle of the night whether people used me for what I brought to the table or simply because I was the only one who was reliable. Reliability enables people to appreciate skills. So many people end up jobless quick because they may be brilliant at times but they flake off. It's like this in soap column writing. I've lasted primarily, because I've consistently, weekly put in the work on a self-imposed deadline when nobody else cared. There have been times I wished I could slough off, but something in me refuses. I need to apply this approach to other things, like a job IRL. I just... I have a hang-up about being the last resort. Last resorts don't go out trying to compete in the crowd.