By Dr. Altyn Clark, Executive Director, Applied Engineering
Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman co-wrote the Oscar winning screenplay for the 1977 movie Annie Hall, and they were interviewed together by the journalist Susan Braudy. The following words were spoken by Marshall Brickman, but he attributed an adage to Woody Allen: “I have learned one thing. As Woody says, ‘Showing up is 80 percent of life.’ Sometimes it’s easier to hide home in bed. I’ve done both.”
In 1989 Woody Allen was asked about this saying by William Safire, the language columnist for the New York Times, and Allen replied with a letter in which he asserted: “I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up.”
Most people take that to mean that if their body is in the room, in a meeting or at work or in a relationship, then the hard part is done and they can coast.
That’s just wrong!
I believe that 100% of success is “showing up”. How I show up in every single interaction I have with another human determines what happens in that interaction. Everything I think, everything I say, and everything I do impacts how I “show up” in the world as a person and particularly as a leader of enterprise transformation. We can always make amends for errors and breakdowns, which are part of the fabric of being human, but there’s no opportunity to recover a lost moment of “showing up” in a purposeful, positive way.
Grooming, manners, language, facial expressions, energy, attitude, talent, smarts; it all matters, all the time. How we show up makes all the difference, and the choice is ours. We are always on stage, in costume, the audience is live, there are no time-outs and no do-overs. It’s jazz, it’s not symphony. It’s improvisation, there’s no script. Our leadership job is to manage time, energy and results—on the fly with no safety net.
Effective leaders display a willingness to engage with people effortlessly—to talk, meet with and respond to people almost 24/7—whenever your people need you.
Would you confess to being an introvert, perhaps a bit shy, maybe with some fear about networking or public speaking? Introverts—BEWARE! If you are shy, under-confident, quiet, you may find it difficult to connect with people energetically enough to lead enterprise transformation. I am a natural introvert. So is Mike Meyers. You know, Wayne’s World and Shrek? That nutty energetic guy that’s so good at improv is an introvert! Like Mike, I’ve learned to practice what he calls site-specific extroversion. Me and Mike, we can turn it off and on like a switch. Knowing my tendencies and natural preferences is not the same thing as being trapped by them.
Watch your self-talk. Notice the tapes that play over and over in your head. What excuses do you use for comfort? What stories do you tell yourself about your self? How true are they? If you have a belief about your self, notice what it is and look for evidence to the contrary.
Practice showing up, every day, with enough energy to connect with and excite the people whose help you need. Connecting is a prime directive. Connecting takes energy. Energy is a choice.