What Woody Allen’s ‘Showing Up’ Quote Really Means
“80% of success is showing up” — Woody Allen
I often think about that quote. Most quotes lack context and people add their own meaning to it.
I tweeted yesterday that there are two main ways to go about understanding this quote.
Some assume that “80% of success is showing up” means that they need to show up for 14 hours per day. As in ‘showing up’ is a synonym for ‘work hard’ or ‘put in the effort’ — and so by pushing hard, they are increasing their chances of success.
Maybe true. History shows us millions of examples of extremely successful people who were not as talented, but more disciplined, focused, and hard-working. But not everything is solved by unthinking, hard labor.
Something tells me that this is not what Woody Allen meant.
When he said, “showing up is 80% of success,” he meant that all you need to do is show up.
If you’re a writer, show up at the keyboard. Go through the discomfort of sitting down at the blank page.
If you’re a runner, put on those sneakers. Go through the struggle of getting outside in the morning cold, feeling sleepy.
If you’re a student, sit down each morning and just open a book.
Showing up means just starting. Not working yourself to the bone.
There is no secret or hack to success. And this Woody Allen’s quote shows none either.
It simply says that people who don’t show up don’t achieve success. Period.
There are people who wish they’ve started a business, but then they never show up in the morning to actually do something about it. There are people who want to become successful as bloggers, but they never show up to write an article.
When you show up, you show intent. You do the hardest part: you start.