Just Show Up
by Steven M. Ledbetter
3 minute read
When I was a teenager, my family went on a trip to Great Britain. We drove from London to Edinburgh and made one very special stop at a castle along the way. Now castles are cool and all (especially the ones with dungeons), but this particular castle in the North East of England was extra rad because it was the castle where my family’s name first appeared on record. We asked the tour guide when that was exactly and it turns out “Leadbeaters” have been around since before the battle of Hastings, but Durham was the first place we held a family seat. The tour guide said the date was hard to place because my family has a habit of just “always being there.” To my Mom, Dad, brother and I, this was a compliment. We’ve always joked our family crest should be the Woody Allen quote:
> > 80% of life is showing up. > >
For my family, this quality has been steeped into our stories. My Mom’s favorite is about my Dad. The summer before they met, he was getting a Master’s Degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management at Cornell and landed an internship in Las Vegas. The Casino owner put him to work washing dishes from the buffet. It was a 6 week internship and my dad washed dishes, for free, all day for 5 of those weeks. On the first day of the 6th week, the Casino owner came down and said “What the hell?! You’re still here?! After the first week, no one ever shows up for the second!” The last week of that internship, the owner didn’t let my Dad leave his side.
On Valentine’s Day of 2008, I remembered that story and all the others like it. I was 60lbs overweight. I was depressed, angry, and just not the person I once was. I woke up that day with an overwhelming sense that my wife deserved better than me. I wasn’t physically attractive or capable. I was too unhappy to be sexy and too lazy to be ambitious. I needed to change, but I wasn’t disciplined. So that day I decided to do the only thing I knew I was good at: I decided to just show up. I told myself I was just going to go outside. Once I was there, I told myself I was going to run. Once I was running, I told myself I was going to run a mile. I nearly vomited before the end of the first block, but I had shown up. The next day, I showed up again and made it to the end of the block.
After a few weeks of running a little further each day, I knew I needed help. A coworker put me in touch with Steve Grubbs, a personal trainer who had been out of shape a few years prior as well. When I met him, I asked him what he wanted me to do. “For now,” he said, “just show up.”
In training, working, life, and love, never underestimate the power of just showing up. Even on days when you don’t want to do anything, just showing up and do the bare minimum is always better than doing nothing at all. 100 swings. 20 Pull ups. A paragraph. One quick drink. A made bed. “I love you.” In a world where everyone over-promises, everyone flakes, everyone says “sure” but no one commits to a time and place, just showing up is dangerously close to demonstrating integrity.
When I met Dan John and he asked me to come to the Coyote Point Kettlebell Club, I did. And I kept coming back. After a few weeks Dan said, “I knew we’d get along when you did the only thing no one else manages to do.” “What’s that? I asked. “You showed up twice.”