The First Law of Success

The famous director, actor and comedian Woody Allen got it right when he said,

Eighty percent of success is showing up.”

But he left out the other side of the coin:

If you don’t show up, you’re success rate drops to twenty percent at best.

Now we’ve all heard stories about the bright entrepreneur with the great new idea ultimately end up in bankruptcy. Or the seemingly successful businesses that flounder for no apparent reason haven’t we? These things happen everyday, yet no one is able to tell us exactly why.

And all the justifications, explanations and reasons offered as to why this happened do nothing to help us avoid the same fate. But one thing is as clear as a mile-high, neon sign on a jet-black night:

The best way to guarantee failure is: Don’t show up.

Which, by obvious deduction, leads us to this second undeniable fact:

The first law of success is to JUST SHOW UP.

Why? Because all other laws are meaningless without satisfying the first one.

What does it mean to show up?

It just means to stop hiding and stop pretending you’re invisible.

Show up and really be there, be yourself and participate, don’t just observe and be a spectator in your own life. Answer your phone calls personally, be interested in people, open a conversation and make a contribution, answer your letters, go to that meeting or party, accept the invitation to speak and stick around afterwards and talk to people.

It’s all about just showing up, being interested and contributing.

I can guarantee that you’ll never sell anybody anything if you don’t show up. It’s like getting all dressed up and heading out to a party and then not talking to anyone all night.

It’s easier than you think and the more you practice showing up, the easier and more natural it becomes. And soon, doors of opportunity open for you that you didn’t even know existed. It’s all pretty simple once you decide to just show up.

One more thing.

If all you’re doing is looking for a reason not to show up, you can always find one. But why bother?

Why not just show up instead? You’ve got nothing to lose except your invisibility and ultimate failure. Just show up, contact, engage and get into communication with people.

Train yourself to say YES, instead of your usual response of “maybe sometime or we’ll see.” Get off the fence.

Stop pretending. Either you’re interested in success or you’re not.  If you are, then make it happen. It costs you little or nothing to do so, and the potential gains are exponential.

Further, if you work at it, you will see desirable changes in every other aspect of your life.

All this and more can be yours, if you just show up.


11 Responses to “The First Law of Success”

  1. Does’nt cost much to show up. Right on unc.

  2. 🙂

  3. Commodore Perry Barrett Says:

    Excellent Dan! You have communicated this in a way that goes beyond merely stating the fact and has great impact! Well done!!! Oh so sweet!!! – Perry

    (note: this comment on the article was sent to my personal email address)

  4. Very cool Dan. Did you know all that stuff when you played in the band with me?

  5. Dave Collee Says:

    There is more here than meets the eye. Being present in the moment requires many levels of attention — intellectual, emotional, spiritual, even biological. Ah, but why over think it — just show up!

  6. Curt Wilson Says:

    Selling 101! Whether stated or not by others, it’s one of the first axioms of selling. But, now it has been clearly and directly.

  7. David T Rarch Says:

    (note: this comment on the article was sent to my personal email address)

    Hi Dan

    Right on as usual.
    In our sport we say just Show and Row.
    No medals for just watching.

    Short story.

    Way back when I was in the USAF at Shaw AFB in South Carolina we had the all South East swimming championships at the base.

    I took a shot at the 100 and was 6th and not that fast but did win a point for the base team. Had a big and late date with some beers too and SHOWED UP the next day just to watch the racing, “better get suited up Dave as we need someone to swim the 800 and you are it. all you have to do is just finish so we will not lose your points.”
    (The Commander’s wish is de facto command EH!)

    Help !!! I thought, I’m going to die.

    At about 400 m I got a second wind (in shape from UCLA rowing) and thought ” I don’t want to be last”. I won it by a pool length and went on to the USAF Worlds to 10 th place overall.

    A lesson I have never forgotten and your FIRST LAW OF SUCCESS brought it all back like it was yesterday.

    Keep writing my friend.


  8. Great article Dan, When I was at IU one of Dominic Spera’s big points was “never turn down a gig!” you dont know what it might lead to… If you want to play lead tenor in a band someday you better be willing to cover 2nd alto for a rerearsal band an hour away for free…

  9. Thanks Greg, Dominic was spot on!
    I have used a similiar saying for myself, “Never refuse work.” No matter how busy I was, how late the call, how far away, I operated on this principle for years. Only now do I allow myself the luxury of deferring work or recommending someone else.

  10. Angelyn Arcaro Says:

    I love your new article! It is beautifully written… of your best. I am so impressed with your ability to express yourself so meaningfully, so directly with no extra words just the ones needed to create a wealth of useful wisdom. Amaahzing!!

    Angelyn Arcaro

    (note) this comment was sent to my personal email account but I wanted it included here as well.

  11. Professor Billy Brown Says:

    Note: this comment was sent to my personal email.

    In my mind one of the most difficult factors in life is to maintain the power and thrust of the “why”. Your article caused me to rekindle my thinking and review my past transformations about my belief system. Thanks for the prod.

    Great job! Billy Brown

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