The Secret of Showing Up

Finding Success In Your Chosen Career
Finding Success In Your Chosen Career

During difficult economic times the “Success Gurus” seem to crawl out of the woodwork. These gurus are happy to share the secret of how they made millions of dollars with little-to-no-effort/overnight/the easy way. For just a few dollars they will happily share some of their secrets. For a few dollars more they’ll share all of their secrets.

The secret they don’t share is the secret of showing up.

My first job after I retired from the Navy in the late 1990s was with a small government contracting firm. I landed a position on a team working at a local shipyard that developed logistics data for the Navy’s new construction ships.

The one unique part of our project was that we built our data using the COBOL programming language. At that time, it was getting difficult to find COBOL programmers as older mainframe computers were being replaced with networked systems.

One day our team leader announced we would be hiring a new programmer. The job announcement was posted, and several of us collected and screened resumes. We settled on six candidates and invited the people in for interviews.

Five candidates were fairly senior programmers who had worked on previous COBOL projects. Their backgrounds matched the experience levels we were looking for. The sixth candidate was a young man who had just graduated college with a Management Information Science (MIS) degree. His COBOL background was a couple of college courses, and his total work experience was non-programming part-time jobs. We invited him in for an interview just to give him experience for his future career; a mercy interview.

The Interview

We scheduled all six candidates for interviews on the same day. On the Big Day, out of six candidates this young man was the only person who showed up. So we hired him.

It turned out that hiring him was the best thing my team ever did. This young man proved to be a fast learner and a dedicated worker. He had a great personality and got along well with our team members and stakeholders. On the flip side, landing this job was a big break for him. On his first post-college job he gained exposure and professional experience that he would never have seen at a typical entry-level MIS job. He quickly became our lead programmer and subject matter expert.

This young man proved to be the right person for the job. Showing up earned him his big break.

The point of this story?

My secret for success in a chosen career is all about showing up. You need to build your skills and qualifications to be competitive. You need to be able to work with the people around you and with your stakeholders. And, the people you work with need to see what you can do. Showing up is all about letting people see your work.

Cross-posted from
Cross-posted to LinkedIn

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