The power of showing up


 Woody Allen is credited with saying “80 percent of success is showing up.”
But Matt Anthony reminded me of another kind of “showing up” at the Kansas City Quills awards earlier this month.
Matt, the keynote speaker, shared about his work with the Head for the Cure Foundation, an organization he started after the death of his brother Chris.
Matt asked: When someone you care about is in crisis, what should you do?
“Answer that question before you ask it,” he said. “The answer is always the same. And that’s to show up.”
The simplicity of this has confounded me many times, and I know I’m not alone in the confusion. When someone has lost a loved one or a job, is sick or even mildly discouraged, the most powerful antidote is our presence.
I have stood in lines at funeral visitations many times wondering, “What should I say?” — as if there is a magical phrase that will bring healing. What matters is simply being there. When we show up it demonstrates “I am here for you.” What greater gift could we give?
Reading the book of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible is instructive. Job suffered incredible loss and was immediately joined by friends who sat with him in empathetic silence and mourning. That was what he needed. Problems started when the friends began talking. That’s not to say we shouldn’t speak. But, “I’m sorry for this loss” may be all that needs to be said. And if you are comfortable giving a hug, that speaks volumes.
We should avoid glib, Pollyanna-like statements and cliches (“they’re in a better place, blah, blah, blah”) even though our words may be true. Saying them may make us feel better, but they won’t help the person who is suffering. At least not in the moment of crisis.
Sometimes I am conflicted about whether I should visit or call someone who is hospitalized, sick or just plain bummed out. We all face pressures of time. In addition, we must battle an inward compulsion to avoid situations that bring us face to face with suffering. But I have become convinced, through many failures of my own, that we should always err on the side of showing up.
It’s amazing how much a text, prayer, Facebook message — or better yet — a personal word can do for an aggrieved soul. Next time that soul may be yours.
Let’s be sure to show up.
Thanks Matt, for the reminder.