Monday, August 27, 2012

(mostly) win at life by following one key rule

I developed a belief some years ago, following a stint in low-level corporate management and a couple of deaths in my family. Over time this belief has become a mantra. A commandment. A deeply-held conviction that if everyone did one simple thing, all of the time, they would (mostly) win at life.

I'm gonna tell you what it is.

Here it is.

You've got to show up. 

It's as simple as that one sentence, and yet apparently so much more complicated when it comes to actually putting it into practice. Which is why I'm going to explain how to do it.

There are three key areas of life in which you need to show up. Now I'm gonna tell you what they are.

Here I go.

1. At work.

2. For your friends.

3. For your family.

I know that sounds easy. But believe me, it's not. Because I'll tell you what. Lots of people can't or won't do it. And it destroys everything. I'm gonna elaborate now.

1. When you are employed, you want to show up for your job on the days you are expected, and at the approximate time you're expected to be there. If you can do this in addition to imitating what you believe a normal person's behavior to be like, you will probably be promoted to president of the company.

2. When you tell your friends you will be somewhere, at a certain time, on a certain day, you do it. This is especially important for weddings, funerals, births, and all events surrounding those occasions. If you can do this in addition to at least pretending to have enthusiasm for said event, you are a good friend.

3. When you are in a family, you show up for family stuff. This includes aforementioned events in the "friends" category, in addition to birthdays, holidays, and other times in-between when families like to get together, eat food, and stare at each other. If you can't show up, you acknowledge the event in some other manner, like a card or a gift or a phone call. This category may be the most important, because we hold our family members to near-impossible standards, forgetting they are humans and likely to disappoint us a number of times over the years.

You might think you already show up, everywhere, all the time. But you probably don't. Because I am the Queen of Showing Up For Shit, and even I fail at this from time to time. Now I'm gonna tell you what happens when you fail to show up when you're expected.

1. Someone is gonna want to fire you, and if they're you're boss, you're probably gonna get shit-canned.

2. Your friends will be deeply hurt, and in some cases may no longer be your friends.

3. Your family members will be heartbroken and angry and will need therapy.

So that's it. Show up, mostly sober, in mostly appropriate clothing, smelling all right, and you'll mostly win at life. You don't need to smile or cry or even stay awake the whole time, but you need to be there.


  1. I had to laugh at the last one: "Your family members will be heartbroken and angry and will need therapy."

    I currently have two therapists.

    1. I should probably just hire a therapist to attend my family's next Christmas gathering.

  2. Hey. But what about when you have a really good reason for moving all the way across the country and you can't show up for everything? Is skype OK?

    1. Yes absolutely! Skype is great. Letters are great. Mainly what is not OK is pretending you or the other people in your life don't exist any more, or just flaking out on shit you were supposed to show up for. I don't think you do this.

  3. I am trying to show up for life more and more. I figure the only way to win is to try.

    Good post.

    1. Trying is great! Trying is more than lots of people can manage.

  4. So important for your kids...they really want you there, no matter what it is.

    A side note: in addition to being physically "there" you need to also be there mentally. Turn off the electronics and give your attention to those that are with you. I always hate when I'm at a store ready to pay and the incoming phone call gets priority. Texts and phones are a distant second!!

  5. As an adult who is now spending time in therapy, I can fully attest to that last point.

    1. Gurrrl. This is a huge issue in my family, too.