Woody Allen by colin swan

80% of success is showing up.

–Woody Allen

I was angry. My business day had barely begun and I was livid. I had an important presentation and my whiteboard was not installed. The office manager had promised several times over the past month to get it done but there it sat, useless on the floor. I was calculating whether I had time to drive home to get my own tools when she walked in. Before I could vent my disappointment I noticed that she was carrying an electric screwdriver.

Together, we quickly hanged the board while she apologized. “I had to get up at 4:00 a.m. to drive our daughter to my mother’s house because her father didn’t come for her last night.”

I was immediately relieved that I had not shown my anger. I–my meeting–was the reason she had gone to extraordinary lengths. And why a little girl had been taken from her bed and into a cold car during the night.

In the small world of my requirements and concerns the office manager was unreliable. In the fuller context of life she was determined and resourceful.

I try to remember this incident and be more compassionate when evaluating people’s behavior at work. What they do in the office does not tell me who they are. Some people are already heroes by the time they arrive at the office, just for showing up.

Philo of Alexandria

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.

Widely attributed to Philo of Alexandria



This is not a matter of virtue. It’s a matter of my choosing to do the work of somehow altering or getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered and to see and interpret everything through this lens of self.

People who can adjust their natural default setting this way are often described as being “well-adjusted,” which I suggest to you is not an accidental term.

David Foster Wallace

Commencement Speech at

Kenyon College.