Eighty Percent of Success Is Showing Up—and Showing Up, and Showing Up

Posted By on July 28, 2009

In my last post, I said that addiction to ambition is a good thing: Find your perfect pitch, a great idea, believe in yourself, and work, work, work. That’s all well and good, but it can’t be that simple, can it? What if you don’t have that brilliant, category-killing idea? Not all of us can be business geniuses. David Rubenstein, who became the richest man in the nation’s capital through his investments in private equity, is widely considered one of the smartest people in Washington. Not so, he told me: “When you get older in life, you realize there are very few geniuses in this world. Most likely, you will never meet one, and Randy, you did not meet one today.” Rubenstein is certainly no dummy, but just as there are brilliant successes who are less than brilliant, there are also plenty of smart, unsuccessful people. Brains is part of the equation, but it’s not the determining factor in becoming an RMIT. “The reason some people get farther ahead of other people,” Rubenstein told me, “is because they possess persistence.”
Woody Allen famously said “Eighty percent of success is showing up,” and although he was joking, he wasn’t kidding. Wayne Huizenga, one of the greatest serial entrepreneurs in American history, let alone Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, has a net worth in excess of $3 billion. He credits his success not to Einstein-like genius, but to his addiction to the business. “I was always the first one in the office and the last one to leave,” he told me. Huizenga recalled that at a celebration after his legendary sale of Blockbuster Video, he found out that a number of executives had played a secret game in which they took turns trying to beat him to the office each morning: “I learned that one morning a colleague, Bob Garren, arrived at the office at 5 a.m. determined to beat me, but I had arrived at 4:30. It wasn’t a competitive thing for me. It’s just that every day, I couldn’t wait to get to work because I enjoyed it so much. I wanted to be there all the time.” Huizenga’s ambition addiction and work ethic prompted a joke that circulated through the halls of Blockbuster: “If you don’t show up on Saturday, don’t bother coming in on Sunday.”

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About The Author

W. Randall Jones is the author of The Richest Man in Town. Visit the About W. Randall Jones and About The Richest Man in Town pages to learn more.