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The Art of Showing Up

Much of what is demanded of us, whether it be scholastic, vocational, or recreational, revolves around availability and presence. The most talented and intelligent persons, if prone to lateness, will lose standing to others with less developed talent if they have a better work ethic. Without the habit of punctuality, other habits of haphazard preparation materialize. Procrastination sets in, materials are left behind, and poor communication becomes standard. Quality of work overall suffers when you aren’t on time. The art of showing up can be perfected by taking up three habits every day.

First, live with margins. Unforeseen events can completely derail a simple run to the grocery store or a long commute to an incredibly important meeting. Traffic jams, car troubles, poor weather, and a host of other variables can contribute to the delay of your arrival. While some situations cannot be avoided or planned for, a majority of the causes of our most common excuses are completely preventable.

Living with margins means leaving with time to spare. It means preparing to arrive intentionally early. It means beginning your morning ritual earlier than normal so departure time doesn’t sneak up on you. Living with margins is no more than organizing your time so you can be ready and present to fulfill your responsibilities, regardless of hiccups in your plan. Without margins, you are more likely than not to be late. If you aren’t late, you will at least be frazzled upon arrival. Discipline yourself to organize your life with some margins in time.

Second, stage in advance. As a tutor, I have many materials I have to provide to my students in order for them to succeed in their studies. Practice tests, scratch paper, notes, the list goes on. The times I am at the greatest risk for being late come when my materials aren’t staged, or gathered, for a session. Many of us are quite familiar with the mad dash out of the door that comes when it’s time to leave. Mismatched socks on our feet, shoes in hand, books and papers spilling out of arms, we proceed to our appointment. This is an issue. There is no way we can be at our best with others if we cannot even tie our shoes on time on our own. By staging our materials, clothes, and other necessities before the moment they are called upon, we can minimize stress in our days and consistently show up to do good work.

Third, respect others. Lack of preparation shows, and the most obvious way this manifests itself is late arrival or complete absence. An unwillingness to expend effort for another’s benefit when it is your responsibility is a display of disrespect toward them. You must find them undeserving of your time and energy if you don’t even care enough to show up on time, right? The more you understand why you are doing something or going somewhere, the more you will respect others and plan accordingly. Your time is no more valuable than anyone else’s, so don’t impose on the time of others by refusing to be on time or be present. Respect is the cornerstone of the art of showing up.

Live with margins. Stage in advance. Respect others. If you make these disciplined habits, you will stand head and shoulders above your peers. The art of showing up may not seem important when that extra 15 minutes of sleep is just within reach, but you will be grateful when your willingness to exercise these habits helps you achieve your potential.


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