Can we be successful by simply just being there? In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell says showing up (over 10,000+ hours) is a big part of who is successful and who is not. Woody Allen has said that 80 percent of life is just showing up. And of course, Chance the Gardener (who becomes Chauncey Gardiner in the course of the story), the main character of the novel Being There, is the epitome of what can happen when a person lives only in the moment.
For those of you unfamiliar with Jerzy Kosinski’s novel, which was made into a film starring the great Peter Sellers, Chance is a simple man who, after living in a rich man’s estate his entire life tending the garden, is turned out into the world when the old man dies. He wanders aimlessly for a while, then through a series of benign misunderstandings, each of which builds on the other, becomes wealthy and in line for the Unites States presidency. The film ends with an image of Chance walking away – on the water. The ending quote, “Life is a State of Mind” says it all.
Life is a state of mind and sometimes we are too smart for our own good. Chance didn’t know limitation, fear or anguish. He lived in blissful ignorance and was embraced for it. No one told him that life could be filled with danger, roadblocks and curveballs. What if we had also not been let in on that not-so-great secret?
Is it possible that all we need to succeed is to be there? That perhaps we just get in our own way to success?
Think of when you wanted something about which you were passionate. It could be courting your spouse, starting your company, learning a new skill, or wanting to know what was at the end of a dirt road. There was risk but you calculated it (or didn’t) and just went there because it was your passion.
Certainly, we take fewer risks as we get older, but is that the wisest choice? And what about choices; what is their role in living life in the moment? Last month I faced choices that brought up questions about the past and the future. In the haze of all the “what is” the realization that finally brought me calm was realizing that the choices we make are based on the best information we have at that moment. So we make the choice and go forward to be in the in the next moment, and the next moment.
Believe that things are meant to go right. Believe that we are where we are supposed to be right now. And if keep feeling you should be doing something more, or be somewhere else, you’re probably right. Change doesn’t begin when everything is perfect. It begins now. It begins when we really show up.