“90% Of Success Is Just Showing Up” – Is It True?

Some things are true. Some things sound like they should be but are really not true. Which is this one?

I remember hearing the quotation from the title above many years ago. “90% of success is just showing up” – It sounds so appealing. But now we get to put it to the test. Here I am. This is what showing up looks like. This is not, however, what showing up prepared looks like.

When I was in law school many moons ago, classes were conducted by what was called the Socratic Method. A portion of a book was assigned – typically a handful of cases that dealt with a particular area of law. In class, the professor would call upon a student at random and would spend the next twenty or thirty minutes dialoging back and forth with that student about a court opinion. The professor would ask a series of questions and the student was left to fumble around for answers that 1) will be somewhere in the neighborhood of what was expected and 2) would not serve as fodder for merciless ribbing after class.

An unavoidable side effect of this method of leading a class was that on any given day, the odds said that the professor would not call on one particular person. Me, let’s just say. Sometimes circumstances would conspire to encourage a game of roulette. Class roulette, I guess we could call it. On those days, a certain number of students would come to class without having read the material. Most of the time it worked out. The professor called on two or three other students, and because most students on any given day had read the material, everyone was happy.

But disaster would strike occasionally when a student would be called upon to discuss Brockenfelder vs. Amalgamated Thimble & Forge Co. or some such case on a day when there had been no reading done the evening before. In those cases there was but a single response: the unlucky student would have to suck it up and respond with “I’m sorry, but I am not prepared today.” A hush would go over the room because it was a shameful thing. The red-faced student would endure the unkind stare from the professor, who would then roll the dice again and choose another victim.

Well – today I am that student. Much has been afoot in my life but none of it has been committed to the glowing electrons that have coursed their way to your screened devices. It is after 10 pm on Thursday evening and lots of content-hungry people are expecting (and not unreasonably) to be sated. But today is not that day. I am sorry my friends and readers, but I am unprepared.

The photo of the little white Dodge (or perhaps Plymouth) Neon always reminded me of that situation. The car always seemed to me to be putting on a cute but embarrassed smile, and “Hi” is the best it can come up with. Nothing clever, nothing informative, and not even anything controversial. Just “Hi”.

So, Hi.

Chastened, I will vow to put up a better struggle against the dreaded combination of procrastination and much to do so that you have something more interesting to read next week. But until then, I think we have our answer. I have shown up, but I do not perceive that I am anywhere near 90% on the success-o-meter. I am feeling maybe 30%, and then only because I was able to pull an old law school story out of the air. Sometimes it will have to do.

27 thoughts on ““90% Of Success Is Just Showing Up” – Is It True?

  1. Reminds me of the ”joke” motivational poster that said something to the effect of hard work and focus pays off in the long run, but procrastination pays off today!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I love it! That is the reason so many have a hard time quitting cigarettes. Yes, I will probably get cancer and die an ugly death. But not today, so please hand me a pack of Marlboros so I can make this headache go away.


  2. Such is life sometimes. Besides, with this being virtual you don’t see us, so any professorial stares are replaced with the “does a falling tree make noise if nobody is physically there?” scenario. It’s all good.

    Bigger picture, it seems like some things in life occur in surges. On this end we are also riding the wave of a surge of stuff going on, leaving precious little time for things I enjoy more. Perhaps that is nature’s way of keeping life unpredictable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I tend to crave structure and routine, and I have plenty of writing time in that environment. Structure and routine has gone away for a bit while I attend to some things. I guess these are the times that make us appreciate normal.


    • What DougD said. 😃

      But seriously, way to pull one out of your, umm…, sleeve! Unprepared though you might have been, you still managed to craft an engaging story. I could sense the beads of sweat accumulating on the foreheads of the unprepared as the professor’s gaze swept across the classroom.

      Hope that things soon return to normal once the current turbulence passes.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know if this is something that comes from experience at writing – or if I have just watched too much television, but I tend to think in terms of a beginning, a middle and an end. This goes a long way towards being able to stretch a single paragraph into something more like a micro-story.

        And thanks – at least it the turbulence is good turbulence and not bad turbulence.


  3. Hi! Happens to me a lot, that’s why I do meme dumps on some days, lol. But actually, I have seen in the last decade or more situations where people constantly call in for whatever reason but there is one person, who may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer, who shows up consistently. That person gets promoted. “They aren’t too bright. How did they get promoted?” they showed up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to agree – if you were going to buy a car called a Neon, why would you get one that was black, white, or gray? You remind me of one of the dads where my kids went to school in the early 00s. He had a Neon painted a very unusual purplish-pink color. He laughed about it and told us how he bought it. He went in looking for the cheapest new car he could find. The salesman showed him one he could cut an extra discount on because it had been sitting for a bit. My friend was colorblind and had to ask what color it was. The salesman said “Magenta”. My friend asked “What’s Magenta?” The salesman’s answer was “Its a kind of red.” Those of us who can see color would have argued with the salesman about that, but then we would have paid more for a car in a different color, too.


      • I found color charts that showed the 1997 Plymouth Neon could be had in Magenta. I might have chosen that colour over red if it had been available!
        When I bought my PT Cruiser, I chose Tangerine because I liked the colour – but my husband liked it because it was the Dream Cruiser 2.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Haha, thanks. I will confess that when most of my writing has to have a point (whether professionally or here on this blog), it is kind of a luxury to be able to sit down and just let it happen. Sometimes it works out.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My Dad told this story from one of his law school classes. The Professor had a seating chart and called on Mr. Smith. No one answered. The Professor repeated the name and glared at the student. The student looked around and checked the name tag on the front of his desk. The Professor chided, “That’s right, if you don’t know your name, check the card.” The student then informed the professor that his name “Smythe” was not pronounced “Smith.” Mr. Smythe was then invited to present the case. He answered, “Not prepared.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s pretty good – get cheeky with the professor about name pronunciation on the day when you are not prepared for class.

      I remember the first time that happened in 1st year contracts class. The rest of us felt a mix of sorrow for the student and superiority in ourselves for having read the assignment. The next day that kid was on the hot seat for the entire class period. It was a good lesson for the rest of us. I got caught a couple of times during my 3 years, but never with that professor!


  5. I learned about the Socratic Method when I took “Constitutional Law” as a college freshman. Apparently, freshmen were discouraged from taking that class because it was demanding, but I scoffed off that warning and took it anyway. Well, that’s how lessons are learned.

    We were assigned required reading for the first class, consisting of several Supreme Court opinions. I glanced at them. They were long, dense, and I figured I didn’t REALLY need to read them. I went to that first class confident that my typical high-school lackadaisical attitude would be fine. It wasn’t.

    The professor was in his 70s, very traditional, and British. He employed the Socratic method by asking students – at random – to explain or opine about something in each case. I was horrified, because obviously, I couldn’t answer a single one of those questions. A few students had to admit they were unprepared, and then were chastised in the very subtle but humiliating way a 70-year-old British professor could pull off.

    Amazingly, I ended up being one of one 2 or 3 students in the class who were not called on that day. An absolute miracle as far as I was concerned. Oh, and I read the required material for every class from then on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved this story. Law school was a HUGE change from the teaching methods I had experienced in college (let alone high school). Add the fact that 100% of your grade came from a single final exam (so you had no idea how well you were doing until it was too late) and it was kind of stressful. And yes, reading court opinions is far from light, entertaining reading. The old ones were (and are) worse because paragraphs tended to be really, really long, which made you feel like you needed to pack a lunch to get through one.


  6. Well you still came out smelling like a rose (an archaic expression, but you did good … or well if you want to be grammatically correct). 🙂 I thought I remembered you saying you had a few posts in reserve which just needed a final tweak, but maybe you used them all up? Reading your roulette story about reading assignments made me think of my “Law of the Press” class I had to take as part of my core program for my mass communications degree. I had Professor Jack Highton who did the very same thing. We had two large books and long reading assignments and had to memorize cases pertinent to journalism. He’d point a finger at one of us – he never knew our name, nor did he care. “You, stand up and tell me the crux of Smith v Jones and if you agree with the outcome.” I remember freezing as all eyes turned to see what I’d say and if you didn’t know, he’d sneer and say “sit down!” Ten weeks of that class, twice a week – ugh!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do have some things in reserve that are in varying states of suitability, but when I have dithered around until the approach of bedtime on a Thursday evening, I feel like it would be wasting one of them to do a quick and dirty edit and toss it out there. It’s different if I have a couple of days to think on it.

      Liked by 1 person

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