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Monday 13 October 2014

Showing up

“If today was the day you were finally going to win, did you show up?”
-          Daniel Waldschmidt

The above quote was randomly selected on my email provider. It is an interesting mutation of a statement attributed to the comedian/actor/director Woody Allen in 1977 by his partner Susan Braudy, “80 per cent of life is turning up”. In 1989 Allen discussed this attribution, correcting to be something more specific: 

"My observation was that once a person actually completed a play or a novel, he was well on his way to getting it produced or published, as opposed to a vast majority of people who tell me their ambition is to write, but who strike out on the very first level and indeed never write the play or book. In the midst of the conversation, as I’m now trying to recall, I did say that 80 percent of success is showing up."

When it comes to writing, I can completely agree with Allen. I have received emails and been a part of many conversations with prospective writers. Sadly the vast majority will never get their work published in any format. Despite this being the case, I encourage everyone to write. Writing has been my favoured medium for as long as I could string letters together. I love reading stories and have an insatiable thirst for knowledge. Unfortunately for me, not everyone is so enthusiastic about this medium. Some people have little pleasure in reading, let alone writing. However, of those who do have enthusiasm to write their book or to have an idea very few of them will actually do anything about it. I can relate to them. I have been there and I often find myself there. In truth, so do most writers and creators. Like the elite fighter who carries the same fears as the rest of us regarding his match, the creator is constantly tempted by distractions. In fact, I would argue it is in a creative person’s make-up and therein lays the cruel paradox.  

The effort required to act is considerable. It is what allows so many truly awful works of art, literature, music and entertainment go onto become mainstream successes whilst the world loses some remarkable works to the graves of those who could not act upon their talent and ambition.  
History is full of examples of people who struck lucky simply because they made the decision to turn up for an event. Actors, such as Ray Winstone, auditioned virtually on a dare. Having worked in most areas of showbusiness, I have often seen how much timing has to play regarding an individual’s success. It is easy to see it all as something of a tournament with luck playing a big part of the entire process. There are several factors that will give you certain advantages, including education, but none of it is relevant to a non-attendee. There is a type of equality for guaranteeing you will not achieve what you want there and it was aptly described by a villain in the boxing movie, "Gladiator", "Everyone is a no show until they show".

The Waldschmidt quote is something of a sequel to Allen’s well-known saying. Waldschmidt not only explains the importance of showing up, but its continued importance. Mileage needs to be put in to make progress. Obviously being objective-driven and mindful of what you are turning up to do is far more productive than just turning up in hope of being successful, but nevertheless it is still a question of being there even when you feel certain you are going to fail. Experience of failure is not something we should shy away from if we see some value in whatever it is we are trying to achieve. Some of my best life lessons have come from complete failure and have gone influence things I have succeeded in doing. At other times having no expectations has lowered my stress levels and allowed me to perform better in some area. However, when I look back, it is probably all those badly remembered non-event events that I attended to put the hours in that are responsible for allowing me to achieve the larger goals in my life. 

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