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Sometimes Just Showing Up Equals Success

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

A lot of success in life and business comes just by showing up. I mean certainly, there's more to it than that: training, education, experience, planning, and all that. But at the end of it all, none of that preparation will matter if you don't take action and SHOW UP!

Several years ago, I had a first-hand experience of this during a triathlon I entered. I'd only found out about the event a week earlier and was pretty unsure I was ready to take part. I'd been training for a race scheduled about six weeks later, but was definitely not in top form.

But after some thought - and the unexpected chance to become a sponsor of the event - I decided to dive in, literally, two days before the triathlon. Compared to other races which I'd registered for months in advance, I signed up for the Tri for Hospice in the actual last minutes of registration on race day.

I have to be honest...I almost didn't do it. In addition to my inadequate training, I was not feeling my best on race day. My pre-race meal the night before included some crab dip which did not agree with me, leaving me so nauseous I couldn't eat my usual pre-event breakfast. and I was pretty shaky.

I also had the beginnings of a poison ivy rash starting on my arms and a headache...all great reasons to stay home and go back to bed. But I'd made a commitment to myself and to Hospice - and told A LOT of people I was doing it. So off I went and signed up as a last-minute participant in the course.,

The race went well all things considered. The swim was not my best: super cold water, an unfamiliar pool, and my first event in almost two years. My swimming skills had slid back towards the "not drowning" level across the pool rather than the swimming. But I made it out alive, got on my bike, and hit the road.

The bike was better - it is my best area usually - but I hadn't been on it at all since the previous summer. Still, I slogged through ten miles feeling pretty comfortable before facing the two-mile run.

After trading my bike for running shoes, I jogged out of the transition area, clearly one of the very last athletes to come through. The run course was what I feared it would be - a lot of rolling hills, most of the steepest parts coming on the way to the finish.

As I trotted along the first mile, I passed a guy about my age, who I'll call Murphy, and who was walking down the hill. I recognized him from the bike route where I'd passed him changing a flat tire on his bike.

I said to him "You know this means the way back will be almost all uphill, right?" laughing and feeling relieved I was no longer in last place.

He replied. "Yeah. I almost feel guilty for walking the easy part."

"It's not about perfection. It's about finishing. Don't worry about anything else." I said both to him and myself.

But what Murphy said next shocked me. "Three months ago I was in the cardiac ward. I just want to finish even if I come in last."

Wow. My perfectionism went out the window and was replaced by inspiration and gratitude. I responded to Murphy...

"Then just be proud of yourself for being here and glad you're still breathing. Don't even worry about finishing last. You're ahead of all the people who didn't show up today!"

We continued on to banter a bit more before I ran ahead of him, but I couldn't help but think how lucky we both were to be there. He finished a few minutes behind me and I cheered him on as he crossed the finish line.

Murphy and I both watched and cheered as awards were given to the top 3 overall finishers and the #1 finishers in each age group. Seeing as how he and I were among the last two to finish the race I didn't even bother to look at my results until I got home.

Imagine my surprise when I saw I made the Top 3 in my age group. What?! That was an absolute first. I was thrilled, grateful, and excited!

And I was also amused...because there were only three people in my age group.

But I was - and still am - happy about being in the Top 3


Well, though a lot of folks don't realize it, many people and professionals do "well" simply because they just show up. They are one of the best in their specialty or field because they are willing to step out, take a risk, try something new or just BE THERE when others aren't. Just showing up to attempt to conquer a difficult task or goal is much more than many people will even consider, let alone try doing.

If triathlons have taught me nothing else, it is that being there and being willing to do your best, regardless of the "perceived" outcome or "place" you achieve - or the possible failure you might experience - makes you achieve success more often.

So yes, I was and am quite happy with my 1st "top 3" finish. I showed up, even when I wasn't feeling my best or most confident. Yes, I was afraid of failure, and of looking stupid, and had a few other things stacked against me.

But I took a deep breath as I stepped into the icy cold pool and persevered until I ran across the grassy finish line. By showing up, doing my best, and making it to the end, I - along with Murphy and the other competitors - am a success.

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