If 90% of success is just showing up, what is the other 10%?

On a recent flight back from London I watched an amazing film called Being There, with the English actor Peter Sellers. It tells a story of somewhat socially detached gardener called Chancey. This character finds himself thrown into the real world after living a rather childish, secluded and sheltered life with his elderly boss. Through amazing twists of fate and good fortune, this rather odd character somehow blunders his way to becoming the President of the United States simply by being there at the right place at the right time with the right company. Chancey Gardener didn’t really do anything other than two things in this film that elevated his stature and value:

He showed up and he added value to the people around him.

Showing up means more than being at a certain place at a certain time, it means being PRESENT. In this day and age of Skype and Facetime, no one will take offense if you do not jump on a plane and make the three-hour trip for a face-to-face. However, not being present in every sense of the word is an immediate turn off. It sends out a signal of insincerity. I have learned through mentoring many professionals over the years that whilst there are times you think you are listening to the most trivial dialogue you have heard in your life, to the other person the subject matter may be incredibly paramount. I was introduced to the phrase listen aggressively when I first started teaching over two decades ago and it has served me well. Not only does it make you pay attention to essential detail it also develops your intuition and ability to resonate beyond just listening to the person in front of you.

As an exercise for this week, I want you to fully engage your awareness and listening skills with whomever you interact. Make eye contact, react with true understanding and allow them the space to voice their concerns or opinions. As a result of this aggressive listening you will be armed to deliver an intelligent and relevant answer or opinion.

At every juncture in his journey, Chancey Gardener listened, contemplated and answered with sincerity to every person even though he was somewhat in the dark and a little out of his league. His sincerity trumped his ignorance and people respected that.

So if showing up and being present is the 90% – what is the other 10%?

Very simple; the 10% is whatever was discussed or arranged during the conversation. Always follow through a short time afterwards. Believe me, it is a priceless skill to have and it blows people away. If you think you should write, email or call someone, you should. Youll find yourself regretting it if you don’t.

I’m not saying by following this blog post you’ll make President, but you will have the ability to make people feel like kings and queens.

Have a great week,


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