The Cost of Not Showing Up and the One Person Rule

The Cost of Not Showing Up and the One Person Rule

I almost didn’t write this.

All sorts of seemingly valid bullshit reasons why I shouldn’t swam through my mind.

“You don’t really know what you’re saying. Who are you to write about this when you haven’t gotten your shit completely together?”

“Enough people have talked about this already. You’re just contributing to the noise.”

“Doing something else would be easier, give yourself a break and go see what’s on Facebook.”

This type of thinking illustrates how collapsed I am internally.

What do I mean by this? All of the energy is focused on me and my fears. I’m fixated on what the cost and consequences will be for me to show up, do the work and ship.

If you’re really clever you’ll see what’s underlying all of this resistance is a fear of putting myself in a authority position. The temptation to remain a spectator and passive consumer is very strong.

The reality is all of these rationalizes are valid. It really would be much easier to stay small and not show up.

So, the question is: If we don’t want to stay in a hole our entire lives, how do we counteract this impulse to contract? How do we step up and lead even when it’s hard?

The Antidote: introducing the One Person Rule

The challenge creatives and digital renegades often have is in tying in our efforts to the impact it makes in the real world. We might toil away for months on a book that doesn’t impact people until it actually reaches their neocortex a year later. Or we may publish a blog post and it really does positively affect someone instantly, but because we can’t actually witness their change in the real world we assume that nothing happened.

So, how do we reconcile this?

I’ve found that it’s incredibly valuable to think about one person that I might impact with my writing. That might be a reader that regularly comments, or it could be an imaginary person that I just made up in my own mind. It doesn’t really matter, just imagining helping this person and envisioning what they’re struggling with is enough.

Now, I want you to play a game with me for a second. Pretend that you were put here on this earth to help this one person, and that some cosmic connection was formed between you and them for a very specific reason.

Just play along with me…

Imagine that if you don’t help this person, it could cause them a lot of pain, perhaps so much that they may never realize their potential.

If you want to take it a step further, you can imagine how you not showing up might then impact the people around them. You can keep playing this ripple effect game in your mind until you feel like it hurts not to take action.

Another way of playing this game is imagining all of the positive ripples you showing up and leading will have on this person. Some of us are more motivated by loss, and others are more motivated by gain. So, feel free to play around with this and see what has the biggest motivational impact for you personally.

If you did the exercise (you did do it right?) you’ve seen how powerful it can be to pull yourself out of your own limited fears, and expand your awareness to how you showing up or not showing up impacts others.

I believe that if you can just impact one person for the better, it’s worth showing up.

The gamble is that you may or may not impact anyone. But your odds are 100% certain that you won’t help anyone if you don’t show up.

The truth is I don’t know if writing this and showing up was worth it. I could have just screwed around on Facebook.

But at least now I can end my day knowing I tried.

photo credit: Banksy 2

Comment & Add Your Voice

Laura August 26, 2015 at 2:19 pm

you impacted this one person. today. thanks for showing up. I will do the same for another.

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Laurent August 26, 2015 at 2:26 pm

Hi Jonathan,

I believe that to accelerate change you have to connect with you to find clarisse and then with a model. But many people fears to get in touch with someone a little bit “famous”.
What is your advice for this people who have to connect with otheirs and stay a little bit alone with their dream. Should them do the same, imagine helping the person that they should contact ?

thanks for your job
laurent

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Jonathan August 26, 2015 at 3:04 pm

I would advise remembering that everyone was a beginner at some point. Everyone struggled at one point or another along their path. If you can remember that, the fear is much less consuming. It’s still there though, so you have to feel it, and act anyway.

Catherine Soliz-Rey August 26, 2015 at 2:27 pm

Very well said. You’ve helped me with this !!!
-Catherine

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Kamala Murphey August 26, 2015 at 3:00 pm

I’m so glad you wrote this and PUBLISHED it! A great reminder that I’m not alone in my rationalizations! LOL! Especially when I feel like I’m sending things out into a void and not knowing if they’re still just floating out there or if they’ve landed somewhere and begun to take root!

Maybe for a bunch of people, I’ll just be adding to the noise, but for my one person, maybe a bunch of seeds will need to be sent out for the right one to land.

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Pradnya August 26, 2015 at 7:24 pm

Thanks Jonathan – this came at a time when I was really reevaluating the value in showing up each day and working hard on my business rather than taking the easy way out. It also relates to personal struggles such as health – fitness and diet.

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Dana August 26, 2015 at 8:58 pm

Hi Jonathan, thanks for writing this post. Always surprised to read that someone feels the same way as I do. I guess the struggle is real and not an isolated case. This never ending internal dialog of the person who tend to ruminate.. works for us and against us. Sometimes I think i’m crazy to think that i could actually impact someone. Sometimes i’m thinking it’s a disservice to not really live up to my full potentials. It’s believing and not believing at the same time. I’ve read Rumi’s thoughts on this: stop acting so small, you are the universe in ecstatic motion.

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harry August 26, 2015 at 11:07 pm

This post definitely impacted me. Thanks!

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Joseph August 27, 2015 at 2:47 am

Thank you.
Reading this, I felt tension release out of me. This is a timely reminder for me. (You’re not adding to noise; you’re creating dance/movement/music to my mind. :-) )
Thank you for writing, and publishing, and emailing this.
– Joseph

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Mathias August 27, 2015 at 5:08 am

A really motivating piece!

In my opinion, one of the toughest things to get over is our own feeling of inadequacy. Like you said, a thought that seems to be always present is “who am I to do this?”

I prefer to combat this by asking the opposite question; “who would be better than me to this?”. It’s so easy to come up with reasons for why you’re not special, but it becomes much harder to tell yourself that you are a worse candidate than someone else.

Our ego is a powerful thing – all we have to do is learn how to use it!

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Jonathan August 27, 2015 at 11:37 am

Really like this technique of flipping the script.Thanks for sharing Mathias.

Johnny August 27, 2015 at 9:36 am

Really nice one Jonathan! Nice thought. I have actually been thinking something like this many times. Because I have a tendency to be syncronised with different people at different situations. Sometimes, it’s such a weird moment or time, that it makes the feeling of the purpose so strong.

But, I know I have this purpose here :)

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Jan August 28, 2015 at 6:47 am

Sound article — thank you :-). Being in a position of authority (being the “boss”, a thought leader, etc) is never an easy thing and often confronts him or her with the already internalized feelings of, whats essentially boils down to, not mattering.

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allan August 29, 2015 at 3:30 am

thank you for showing up! you have impacted me today. and sometimes i think its just worth it showing up, when you are a messenger/writter and the message is burning inside you so strongly, does it not feel better that you have laid your message out there and someone might benefit from it?

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L8 bloomer September 5, 2015 at 2:28 am

Thank you for showing up Jonathan! I am better for having read this on this particular day.
I know ONE PERSON other than me who will be too… W we were just talking about showing up… living alive in the PRESENT (today). Not absent; existing in REGRETS (yesterday ), and prematurely imagined FEARS (tomorrow).
It would be so easy not to show up here. For the next ONE PERSON it will mean something to. Glad to SHOW UP.

Thank you all!

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Jerker (Energetic and Productive) September 6, 2015 at 6:38 am

I’ve had similar feelings. Most of the time it’s just a moment of low self-esteem that passes rather quicly, but also in the long run it can be hard to assume the role of a leader or an influential writer.
At times with better self-esteem, it is also rather obvious though that everyone is just trying their best and everyone with some healthy self-awareness questions their own work sometimes, that’s how you get better.
I’ve had a few epiphanies also while for example starting to study and gaining insight to the academic world. Before, I used to higher studies as distant and that “those people really know what they’re talking about”. Then you’re doing it yourself, and you realize you’re just writing stuff and making references, following some simple rules – and it’s really not at all a guarantee for quality in any way.

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Hammo September 9, 2015 at 11:01 pm

It was worth showing up today to read this. Thank-you.

Only moments before I was caught in the FB bubble and was struggling to get out. I managed to escape and now I found your blog.

It’s strange how your real path is different to the one you imagined or at least to the one marketers are trying to sell you every day.

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Sathya October 3, 2015 at 10:59 am

Though a highly recommended strategy for all bloggers/ writers – finding the authentic voice and discovering the target audience, I found it quite elusive to do it.
Thanks Jonathan for sharing this neat technique to that one person to whom I can make an impact on.
Interesting, I did realize that it was indeed how I did my best of writing. I always had a person in my mind whom I felt the blog is the answer for! Sometimes it is a reader who found a blog useful and commented, or one of my offline client who had a perplexing question that got sorted off.
Both ways, the trick helps to capture that ‘conversation’ (imaginary/ real) and to leverage it create content worth sharing. As Robert Greene (author of, ’48 Laws’ and ‘Mastery’) famously found to have said, ‘Everything is material!’.
Thanks Jonathan for reminding me this.

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