Woody Allen was once quoted as saying,”Eighty percent of success is showing up.” Given how important showing up is, however, it’s amazing how many people don’t even do that, whether it’s the student who cuts more classes than she attends, the dad who promises to throw a ball with his kid but always has some excuse, or the friend who keeps canceling lunch dates with you because it’s too much to commit. When you don’t show up, it hurts you because you can’t be trusted and are viewed in a negative light. How often do people say things like, “We should have lunch sometime,” but not really mean it and never once suggest a date? One of the most important things I’ve taught my kids is that they need to be a person of their word. If they say that they are going to do something, they need to do it. Reliable people are becoming a rare breed unfortunately.
But what about the other 20% of success? I think that is reserved for the people who choose to play full out, no matter what, and who go the extra mile. When I was in coaching school, the number one rule for our class and for being a coach in general was to play full out. This meant being open to everyone and everything, being willing to try new things and look silly, and being open to learning and being wrong and looking foolish. It’s no wonder we all felt so alive during our training, because for the first time in our lives, everyone was 100% committed. What would our lives and our businesses look like if we all played full out and gave more than was expected? What kind of world would we have, where people spent less time complaining that they can’t get ahead and more time doing kind things for others, whether picking up trash along a river, or helping a homeless person feel less lonely? Today, I noticed a woman was trying to load her large toddler into a shopping cart and the cart kept moving. I just grabbed the cart to steady it and said, “Take your time. I got this.” She seemed so relieved and it was so easy. Another woman was parking illegally and didn’t know it, so I pulled down my window and warned her so that she wouldn’t get a ticket or get towed. Other people have done the same for me. When I was backpacking in Europe in my twenties, I was always lost since I have a bad sense of direction (and this was before GPS) and I was always running late for the train. Strangers came out of nowhere to grab my bags and run with me to make the train and help me get where I needed to go. I will always be grateful.
There is no greater business secret in my mind than providing such “wow” service that people can’t help but rave about you. Places like Amazon and Nordstrom’s do that beautifully. Because so many businesses don’t do that, however, it’s not that hard to compete if you always put the customer first. As both my father and my grandfather, both successful businessmen, taught me, “The customer is always right.” I also learned that it’s easier to keep a customer than to win a new one, so serving your customers makes bottom line sense. What about beyond business? As a parent, if you consistently spend time with your kids when they are little and if you keep your promises, they will want to spend time with you when they are older and don’t need you as much. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for, and they remember what you value– not in words but in action– throughout their childhood. The same thing applies to friends. Are you there for your friends in a real world way or do you just chat sometimes on Facebook? They are not the same thing, and yet increasingly people seem to think that they are.
To find your world stage, it’s not about who wins. It’s about being there for your family and friends and teammates and customers, trying your hardest, and knowing that no matter what, that you showed up and you played full out and you gave it your all. If you do that, you will be unforgettable.
This is my daughter in a school x-country race.