Show up. Do your best.

This is the best advice I’ve ever received. It’s so good and I am so grateful, it is the only advice I ever offer. Not surprisingly, it’s transmitted directly and indirectly by some of the greatest characters in fiction.

I offer it to my 5-year-old each day when I drop him at school. He answers quietly, “I will, daddy. You, too.” I offer it to myself in a whisper on my way back to the car, as I head off into the big, bad grown-up world: “Show up. Do your best, daddy.”

R2-D2Showing up is the default for effort. It requires little or no attention. This works well if you are an alternate on the softball team or filling in on trivia night.

In nearly ever other kind of situation where it might actually count, however, it requires intention as it is the truest value we can offer. In order to move anything forward in earnest both are necessary – attendance and attention. Careers, relationships, dreams of all kinds alongside personal and professional successes rely on this simple, clear and yet mysteriously rare activity, the combination of both.

I’ll admit the first time I wrote this post, I rambled on using well over 50 times as many words. I quickly realized if I rambled on like that to my kids, to myself or anyone else, we’d get annoyed and might start to ignore this advice rather than taking it to heart.

When I first received it I remember thinking: “How short. Simple. Not preachy.”

So, how about this?

Show up. Do your best.