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Just Show Up

I scooped ice cream when I was in college. For almost two years. The customers taught me valuable lessons in customer service and the free ice cream taught me that I would never grow sick of ice cream.

The most important thing I learned at this job, however, was the power of showing up. After about two months on the job, the owner started calling me “old reliable.”

All it took was two months of showing up to work on time (or mostly on time) for four days per week, and I got dubbed “old reliable.”

I was nothing special. I was terrible at writing words on ice cream cakes. My customer service skills were average. But I showed up. Consistently. I hadn’t called in sick once, and apparently, that was pretty extraordinary.

If you just show up, consistently, you will automatically be better than 80% of the population. You could lose or do a mostly mediocre job, and this would still hold true.

If you show up and play a terrible game…you still beat everyone else who never even tried.

If you show up and make a colossal mistake…you still beat everyone else who never even tried.

This has held true most of my adult life.

I have some co-workers who are objectively better than me at what they do. More skilled, more experienced. But they are inconsistent. They go 110% one day and 60% the next. Or they don’t show up.

I try to just show up and do 100% every day, and people notice. People appreciate it. The tortoise always beats the hare.

This is true with fatherhood.

90% of fatherhood is showing up. Giving the gift of your presence.

Show up at the dinner table every night. It doesn’t matter if the conversation is stilted and everyone is having a bad day. You showed up.

Show up to read to your kids every night. It doesn’t matter if they aren’t listening or you are stumbling over the words or the book is a dud. You showed up.

Show up to take one of your children out to lunch. It doesn’t matter if the food is terrible or if you don’t know exactly what to say. You showed up.

Show up to give one of your children a hug in the middle of the day. Or write them a letter. Or take a quick walk with them. Or grab one and take a quick drive to pick up some milk.

Just show up.

They won’t remember all of the moments you were there. You won’t remember all of the moments you were there. When you have a completed painting, you don’t lament the fact that you can’t go back and count the individual brush strokes.

You have eaten thousands and thousands of meals during the course of your life. You may remember a few here and there but you have forgotten most of them. Yet each and every one sustained you and gave you energy. Whether it was “special” or not, whether you remember it or not, each and every meal mattered.

The same will be true for your children and each and every moment when you just show up.

So show up.