As I write this we are right at the start of the London 2012 Olympics, with over 10,000 athletes from 204 countries gathering to compete with each other in 26 sports – this fortnight sees the best of the best of the best all competing to see who are the overall champions. Of course, every single one of them is already a winner, they are all Olympians which is a remarkable success and achievement in and of itself.
While watching the Games, I got to wondering whether there was something which we could learn from the athletes, something which might help us in our own daily lives, something which might bring our own goals that much closer to realisation? Which got me to thinking about Tom Daley, the 18 year old diver who is representing Great Britain in his second Olympics (having represented Britain in the Beijing 2008 Olympics at the age of 14). Already firmly established as an excellent and medal-winning diver, the years after his first Olympic appearance were far from a breeze for Tom. He had to change schools after suffering from bullying; he went on to get straight As in his GCSE and A Leve exams; he continued to win medals in international competitions; he qualified for the 2012 Olympics; and all this while his Dad was dying of cancer. He faced so many challenges, had so many good reasons for giving up, for not attending his gruelling training, for not pushing himself onwards, but he didn’t give in, he stuck at it and showed up to his training day after day.
And Tom’s story, whilst undoubtedly significant, is not unique amongst Olympic athletes. They have all faced hardship, they have all had to make tremendous sacrifices along the way in their pursuit of their goals. When you look over of these Olympians, there is one thing in common, one major fact which really separates them from the wannabes. It’s not just the training, the schedules, the diet, the practise. It’s more than that. It is something vital and fundamental without which none of the rest of it would even matter.
They show up.
Day after soul-destroying day, time after time, for every single gruelling training session, for every competition regardless of whatever else is going on.
They show up.
And that’s what really raises them to a higher level.
It has been said that 50% of success is showing up. And with very good reason.
Yes, all the training, the planning, the preparation, the special diets, the sacrifices, the trials, the endless competitions and qualifiers are all vitally important, of that there is no doubt. But, if at any of those stages, from the first training session right up to the event itself, if the athlete didn’t turn up, then all the rest of the training etc would be for naught. It doesn’t matter how hard they trained, how well prepared they were, if they did not show up for the event then they would stand zero chance of winning. Of course, the same is true for the training and preparations; it doesn’t matter how well or how hard they train and prepare, if they don’t show up for some of the training then they torpedo their chances of success.
50% of success is showing up. If the athletes did not show up at any stage, then all the rest of their effort is wasted. They can still win against someone who may have a better training schedule, but they can not win against anyone if they do not show up. They will not qualify if they do not show up. They will not even improve their standard if they do not show up when the going is tough.
So how can you apply this to your own life and how will it help you? The simplest way is to realise that no matter how tough things get, no matter how overwhelming the odds may appear to be (and remember, they only appear that way to us, it doesn’t mean that they are!), if we do not show up then we guarantee our failure; by showing up and continuing to show up through thick and thin, we bring ourselves much closer to success in whatever it is we are seeking to attain.
Success comes to those who show up time after time, long after the will to show up has left them, because they know that it is by continuing to show up that they give themselves the greatest chance of ultimate success.
By showing up ourselves we give ourselves that same chance of success, the chance which we destroy if we don’t bother to show up.
So next time you feel like things are going so badly that you might as well give up, or even next time you just think that “maybe I’ll give it a miss this time, it won’t hurt”, remember that everyone who has ever succeeded has ALWAYS shown up. Showing up if 50% of success; failing to show up is 100% failure! When the going gets tough, take a moment to pause and remind yourself of why you are doing it, what you want to achieve. And then look back on all the effort you have already put in and ask yourself just how bad you would feel if you stopped showing up and thus threw away and wasted every single effort you had already made thus far.