Will they show up? On dolphins, readers and guests
We stepped onto the “Osprey” at 7:30am. It was a glorified dinghy, more inflatable parts than metal. It seated 24. Captain Rick had two rules for us:
1) No barfing on the boat. The Atlantic Ocean would be no farther than 4 feet away from us at any time, so there would be no excuse not to make it.
2) Don’t expect the dolphins. They are wild creatures who do their own thing.
Neither rule was particularly encouraging, nor surprising.
The combo of rolling 8 foot waves + basically motorized rafts may cause seasickness.
Wild dolphins are on their own timetable and this ain’t Sea World, honey.
There were no guarantees that they’d show up. Whether we’re talking about dolphins, readers, party guests or program participants. They are all wild creatures who do their own thing. There are no guarantees, ever.
Show up anyways
There’s a good chance that they will show up. What will be there to meet them when they do?
Want readers for your words? Write them.
Want guests? Send the invitations.
Want people to eat your cupcakes? Bake them.
Want to see dolphins? Get on the boat.
If you want to write, plant your backside in front of the typewriter. Don’t get up from the chair, no matter how many brilliantly-plausible reasons your Resistance-churning brain presents to you. Sooner or later your fingers will settle onto the keys. Not long after that, I promise, the goddess will slip invisibly but powerfully into the room.
That’s the trick. There’s nothing more to it. – Steve Pressfield
Show up. Show up. Show up.
Create desirable conditions
Dolphins eat and play early in the day. So we opted for the 7:30 tour over the 11:30 tour even though it meant we had to get up at 5:15 to do so. AND dolphins have ultra sensitive hearing, which is why we opted for the barf-o-matic “Osprey” rather than a mega-horsepowered, eardrum-splitting behemoth.
If you want them to show up, you need to not only show up, but also meet them halfway, under desirable conditions.
Write what you love, to be sure, and care about what lights up your readers.
Make it easy for your guests to say yes to your shindig.
Bake with abandon, but create concoctions that will appeal to their palates.
Clarify your metrics of success
Was the singular indicator of success whether or not we saw dolphins? (And if so, how many dolphins would have been enough?)
We were pretty stoked to be out on the ocean, to gain a new perspective of the shores we’ve only seen from one side, learn from the eco-tour all that we could about dolphins (two stomachs! lifespan in captivity 17 years vs 50 in the wild! they plan their next breath!) and enjoy a new little family adventure.
Obviously, we WANTED to see dolphins, or we wouldn’t have done the tour in the first, place (yeesh). But if your one and only objective for doing anything is to have “them” show up…program participants, guests, readers, critics…then you may be missing the honey of the experience. You don’t want to do that.
In the end, it was a gorgeous morning, an informative tour, no one barfed and the dolphins showed up. In droves.
I’d love to wrap this in a neat and tidy bundle and promise you that your readers, customers, guests and participants will ALSO show up in droves. They may and they may not. (Wild creatures are like that.)
But show up, create compelling and desirable conditions and they very well will. (Wild creatures are like that.)
And when they do, bow to the grace of their presence. Because they came. Without guarantees. They came just the same.
Thank YOU for being here. For showing up, for reading, and for reaching out with comments, emails, tweets and shares to tell me how my words land with you and what you want more of.
I am truly, deeply grateful.