Show up. That’s it. End of blog post. You can believe me and stop reading or you can read on if you need more convincing.
Living in the South is strange in so many ways. One which you would not expect is the approach service workers (plumbers, electricians, roofers, contractors, etc.) take to showing up. That is, maybe they will and maybe they won’t. Not just being late- that’s any service worker. You make an appointment, and they never show or call to reschedule. This is distinctly different from other parts of the country in my experience. It seems like a simple arrangement- you show up to do a job, I give you money. Don’t you like money? Apparently, laborers in the South do not. Every now and then you find one who actually shows up, and they get all my business and my friends’ business. Until they also eventually start to not show up. It’s a weird way to run a business, but this was a huge sign I had of how important it is to show up.
Teaching martial arts for 25 years, I see this constantly. Who are the black belts? The best students? The most competent, the stellar athletes? Not at all. The black belts are the students who showed up. They came to class and kept coming to class, slowly learning and progressing. The most amazingly athletic students- they were aiming to be a +1– they fell off because they actually had to apply themselves to progress rather than rely on their raw talent. The slow, steady, quietly competent and attentive students were the ones who became terrific martial artists. They showed up.
The best vet student, intern, resident, or faculty isn’t necessarily the smartest. Smartness helps, as does wisdom, but to be excellent you first need to show up. If you’re a student, be there before anyone else on your team and leave after everyone else on your team. Offer to take extra on-call responsibilities. Study when you get home. One vet student with whom I worked answered a call to participate in a research project. She was so capable and engaged that she became integral to other projects, and now she has her name on three published research articles. Those who put the time in, get the rewards.
This goes all the way up. The most productive faculty aren’t necessarily the smartest or the most ruthless. I know some faculty members who never come into their office when they are off clinic duty. They’re fine faculty members, but they won’t ever be amazing until they start showing up.
We’ve talked before about how to avoid being a -1: aim for zero. Here is where we start to see how you can go from a zero to a +1. Start by being quietly competent. Then show up. The world is run by those who show up.