In an interview with Conan O’Brien, Ed Sheeran described his work process. Every weekday, he goes to his studio to write and produce songs from 10:00am-5:00pm. By his own admission, most of what he produces is rubbish – but his goal is to only get one good song finished each month. By the end of the year, this means he’ll have twelve songs – enough for an album.
This level of commitment applies not just to his craft but to his family. He doesn’t start until 10:00am so he can help his kids get ready for school. He finishes at 5:00pm so he can spend time with them after school and be there for dinner.
I’ve always been fascinated by the work schedules of people I admire and most of what I find is a similar pattern. They are committed to doing the work they love or find important but within reason. They simply show up each day to do the work that matters, with the understanding that much of that day’s effort may be described by most as failures but eventually something akin to a success will be created. Cutting against the stereotype of the obsessive artist, they often have reasonably a good work/life balance.
This idea of commitment, or showing up regularly, as a sign of dedication to a cause, an activity, a job, and extending to our relationships, is undoubtedly difficult. It isn’t always satisfying or productive. Our effort can go unappreciated by ourselves or others, but still we keep showing up.
At the end of the year, some like Sheeran may have an album of twelve songs. For others, maybe we’ve produced twelve things we can be proud of at our work. In our relationships, perhaps we will have an album in our mind of twelve fantastic memories that represent the best moments of our year with our children or partner.
For example, as a family we’re committed to having dinner together as a family every night. Some, maybe even most nights, it does not go perfectly or even well. There are arguments. My youngest daughter gets annoyed by someone’s chewing. Another kid doesn’t like what we’re eating. But still we show up. Because some nights, like last evening, we open up and share pieces of our lives. Laughter ensues. Connections are strengthened. Love abounds.
The point being, when we show up, demonstrating our commitment and loyalty to something or someone through thick and thin, we will eventually produce some things that make that commitment worth it – not just for ourselves but for those people that we are showing up for.
I hope you keep showing up.