80% of success is just showing up!

People ask me many questions about writing. Here is the answer to it. And one line on my approach to running a business.

Let’s start with a tangential topic. I hate quotes you find on the internet. Hate them! With all my heart. Why? Because you never know what’s fact and what’s fiction. Take the title of this story for example. Woody Allen (love that guy; amazing director, even better writer) said something on these lines. I do a quick web-search and here are some of the pictures that popped out (in addition to the one being used at the top here).

You have got to be kidding! Why would the same person make 4 different statements about the exact same topic? Actually, no matter how unlikely — one can. But the amount of ‘fake’ quotes on the internet makes me doubt everything nowadays.

And none of these was what I would call the best one. Here it is.

So apparently Stephen Hawking and Woody Allen used the exact same phrases to form a sentence; they just flipped a coin to decide who uses the first phrase at the beginning of the sentence and so on.

Anyway. Getting back to the topic at hand. I have been asked many times why I write, and I have answered that question multiple times as well. So, I will skip that for today.

This week, someone asked me a better question:

How do you ensure you have something meaningful and profound to write about every day?

That was deep! Apparently he had read an article where someone had advocated against writing every single day since it has been detrimental to the performance of his/her blog and overall audience behavior/reaction in general.

First of all, ‘profound’ is a strong word. I wouldn’t say I have something profound to talk about every day, but sure it is meaningful — almost every day to me, and on many other days, to others as well. After all, as I have said earlier as well — I write for myself. Anyway. I digress; so let me get back to the moment.

At the time I was asked the question, my response was simple — I am thinking about startups most of the times. I just pick one of those thoughts and just carry on from there. It helps me refine my thought process, give clarity to the way forward and before I know it, I am ready to hit publish.

But how do you know the route you are advocating is the right one or not?

The guy was on fire. One profound question after another.

I don’t, actually. It is quite easy to dissect at a later date whether our actions were correct or not, but in the moment, it is an extremely difficult — if not impossible — thing to do. Why? Because you measure the efficacy and success of your actions by results, and results of any actions, by definition, divulge themselves at a later date. So what do I do? I present my views, back it up with logic, reasoning and arguments in favor of my views, and that’s it. Isn’t that how we decide on our day to day actions as well — be it in life or our startups?

This morning, something triggered the memory of that whole discussion. And this quote from Woody Allen (I hope it was him) came to mind. And I could see a connection.

80% is just showing up, isn’t it?

That’s precisely what I am doing. Just showing up.

But I wasn’t always doing that — at least when it came to writing. And maybe even to running a business.

Writing soothes me down, helps me think better, analyse better. When you write, you get to read your thoughts better than you could otherwise. The mistakes become more visible. You get more opportunities to improve.

You have one more reason to write when you add to that mix my belief that all entrepreneurs are storytellers, without any exception. We are always telling a story — to investors, customers, employees. Everybody.

But I wasn’t consistent in my writing. I have always been more active on Quora than anywhere else so I will cite the pattern from there. There would be times when I would be answering multiple questions in a week, and then there would be a gap of weeks, months even — before I wrote the next answer. That behavior, that lack of consistency affects everything. Even how you run a business.

You are supposed to be building a business by laying a foundation, and then adding to it — every single day. You improvise, you improve, but you always keep working. It is only when you don’t add up to last week’s work is when you should really consider yourself to be failing in your endeavour. And I was failing.

Showing up everyday requires discipline. It requires commitment. It asks for getting over that inhibition which would invariably be there in the early stages. But most of all, it requires a purpose.

So, if I were to make a small change to that quote (which I believe was obviously implied), it would be to add “with intent” at the end.

80% of life/success is just showing up — with intent.

  • Whether I am able to produce a gem or not, I am producing content every day. In time, I will get better.
  • Whether I am able to bench-press 200 kilos or not, I’ll just keep on showing up at the gym — even if the thin, lean kid standing next to me can do 20 pullups when I can’t even do 1. In time, I will get better.
  • Whether I am processing 50 orders a day in a market that could potentially offer 50,000+ orders/day at ease, I will keep on showing up — working towards adding one more daily order to the mix week after week. In time, the business will get there.

In time, I will get better — at all of them. Till then, I’ll just suck it up and endure.

Well. That turned out differently than I had originally intended. But once the thought comes to your head, and you don’t share — then you aren’t being honest and sincere. It would have been cheating had I not.

That’s it for today. See you tomorrow.

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