Submit. Send. Hey, can I buy you a drink? It’s 2011: show up.

January 4, 2011 by Jared Goralnick

Show up (I took this at a SXSW 2009 event)That world-changing goal is right in front of you–on your calendar, in your tasks, on your mind.  But it’s not happening.

There are hundreds of reasons to hesitate on creating it, shipping it, or reaching out to the person who will make a difference.   But one reason in particular that I hope to work on in 2011 is showing up.  Here’s how.

I Just Don’t.

I’m inspired by writers like Seth Godin, Chris Brogan, or MG Siegler, who manage to create and ship every day.

“There’s something special about them.  There’s no way I’ll ever create that much.  I’m a good writer, but I can’t write like that.”

I got the story half right.  I’m not as pithy as Seth, as friendly as Chris, or as sharp as MG.  But if you sent me ten questions about business, productivity, or design, I could write out the steps, dish out the advice, and opine all day…doing a half-decent job.  I just don’t.

Clarity + Focus + Action

Most of the productivity movement talks about clarity—creating lists, staying organized, the steps for processing your inbox.  And to be truly effective at any scale, you need that clarity or you’ll never know which of 10,000 things to do now.

When people talk of David Allen’s Getting Things Done, they’re usually discussing his process for creating clarity, so that they can focus on the right thing.  There are now plenty of productivity wonks out there with an array of lists…but many aren’t doing much with them.

Execution is the result of clarity, focus, and action…but most of us get stuck on the action.  Sure, we do our work, we make it through the truly urgent and much of the important.  Our task lists and Moleskines get well worn…  But when it comes to the work that really matters, that world changing ambition or goal, we often get stuck and settle.

Seth, Chris, and MG don’t get stuck there.  Maybe now it’s somehow easier since they have both the habits in place and high expectations to deliver.  But they didn’t wake up one morning and just start shipping things.

They did it a bunch of mornings, and now they do it everyday.

Showing Up

Seth wrote a great post the other day, The first rule of doing work that matters (go read it, it’s quick), which talked about the power of routine, of habit, of constraints.  But mostly he talked about showing up to the place where you can do the work that matters, where the magic of clarity and focus can lead to the right action.

If there’s one giant thing you want to do, block out time for it every day, or every week.  Make it your sacred cow, and don’t you dare let emails or meetings get in the way of it.  Check yourself in, and sit down with a blank slate and clear agenda, the magic will happen.

I’ve got the pieces in place to do something big.  I don’t have a reason to hesitate, and I certainly shouldn’t open another another tab before I begin working on it.  For 2011, I’m showing up, and I’m going to make it possible for some real magic.

In the coming post, I’ll talk about some of that, such as my tangible goals for the new year.  But to continue my use of themes or words into 2011—this year’s theme is “show up.”

Now feel free to steal my theme as your own way to those New Year’s Resolutions…and go build something that matters.

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4 Responses to “Submit. Send. Hey, can I buy you a drink? It’s 2011: show up.”


  1. Art Jacoby

    Great point Jared! When I’m genuinely passionate about something it’s much easier to show up. And staying passionate is easier when I spend as much time as possible doing things I care about & doing them in a craftsman-like manner. Having said that, there’s some things I’ve been putting off so… thanks for the nudge!

  2. Jared Goralnick

    Thanks, Art. I like that “craftsman-like manner.” And I hope the nudge can last a little while…for both of us.

  3. Tim Koelkebeck

    I also like your theme of making public commitments. We are most motivated when we know friends and others are watching.

    Now I’m curious to see what your goals are.

  4. Jared Goralnick

    Thanks, Tim. Goals are a-coming… I’m just trying to decide how specific I’ll make the public ones this year. Last year I didn’t really list them publicly, but I did go through them and was happy with where I’d gotten at the end of 2010.

    I think realistic goals are challenging when you’re working on a startup, but I don’t mind giving my best and listing a few.

    I look forward to your resolutions/goals!

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