I took my middle son, Justin, to a chess tournament recently. We sat in the waiting room until they posted the pairings on the wall. When we looked up his name, instead of showing an opponent, the line read: Justin Rodriguez – see Director.
We rushed over to the Director’s table and asked what was wrong.
“Oh, Justin gets an automatic win for this round,” she said with a smile.
“Why?” Justin asked.
“Because we have an odd number of players and you were the oddball in the pairing. There is another child registered to play, but he hasn’t arrived yet, so you get the point. You got lucky, buddy. Now sit tight until the next round.”
As we walked back to the waiting room, Justin’s shoulders slumped and his eyes looked at the floor.
“What’s wrong, Justy?” I raised his chin to look into his eyes.
“That’s not a real win, mom.” he pouted. “I want to play. I want to earn my point, not just get one for no reason.”
There is no better feeling than that of real accomplishment- being able to connect your reward to your hard work.
The same goes for the public. No one wants to hear a story of victory because the main character got lucky. We want conflict and transformation; a hero’s journey. Otherwise, it’s not as attractive.
Have you ever been talking about someone who landed a big client, whose social media post went viral, or who was discovered in some random way, and then the other person says, “Well, she got lucky because…”
It reduces merit the person may have had.
And yet secretly, we all hope for a lucky break once in a while. A bit of luck could make life a lot easier. And even though we are quick to discredit someone for having it, a part of us whispers, “I wish that were me.”
I sat down next to my son, “You know why you got that win, Justin?”
“No,” his eyes narrowed at me.
“Because you showed up.”
He looked at me confused.
“Half the battle is just showing up, son. Yes, luck was on your side in the pairings, but what’s important is that you came prepared, on time, and ready to play. The other kid didn‘t. That‘s how life works. Remember, you still have four games to play, so you still have a lot of work to do. Enjoy this small victory and use the extra time to prepare for the next game.”
This is an important lesson for all of us.
I attended a Mary Kay party once and the woman hosting it talked to her guests about the business, the products, and the lifestyle. One attendee commented to the saleswoman, “I’ve known many people who have gotten into the multi-level marketing world, and most of them have failed. Why do you think this happens?”
“Most of them stop showing up,” she said. “This line of work takes time, effort, and persistence and most people don’t feel like showing up over and over again.”
The same goes for writers, athletes, entrepreneurs, and anyone else. Be consistent with your efforts. Stay in the game. Show up over and over and over again. That may mean having the discipline to write, train, work, or network even when you don‘t feel like it. Or it may mean putting your work out into the world even when you’re afraid of failure.
If the Universe happens to throw you a bone, enjoy it. It doesn’t make your success any less meaningful. After all, by showing up you put yourself in a position for luck to find you.
A Moment of Clarity
The one thing you have to do to be successful in life and business is to keep showing up.
Show up so much that luck knows where to find you.