Showing Up Matters

UNC forward Luke Maye made national headlines twice in 12 hours: first, for hitting a last second shot to propel the Tar Heels into the Final Four, and then again for showing up to his 8:00am Business class just hours after returning to Chapel Hill from the Regional Championship game in Memphis.

Nobody would have blamed Maye for skipping the class.  As a player who committed to play at UNC without the guarantee of a scholarship, and didn’t even play in last year’s National Championship game, he had just hit the biggest shot of his life.  The kind of shot that every kid who grows up in North Carolina dreams of hitting when they’re shooting hoops on their driveway deep into the night.  The kind of shot that gets Twitter admiration from Christian Laettner, presumably not a big Tar Heel fan and the author of the most replayed shot in tournament history (maybe surpassed by Villanova’s Kris Jenkins and his championship-winning buzzer beater last year?).  The kind of shot that might earn you a lifetime of free meals at Al’s Burger Shack on Franklin Street.  The kind of shot that, at the very least, would give you a pass from having to attend class at 8:00am the next morning.

Except, he decided to show up.  After a physically and mentally grueling game, media obligations and a late flight home, he showed up to class.  As one online commenter confessed, “I only watched the game and couldn’t make it to class the next day.”

Our volleyball team will be playing in Atlanta this weekend.  After 3 days of tough competition, too many snack bags, navigating a massive convention center, and 14+ hours of bus travel, we’ll likely get home at around midnight on Sunday night.  All of us: players, coaches and parents, will have to decide whether we will show up to school and work on Monday.

I hope we show up.

Showing up matters. It matters because every time we take the easy way out, the next excuse comes a little easier.  Skipping reps, not putting in the extra work, or avoiding a work or social obligation gets easier every time we do it, and we eventually find ourselves spending more time avoiding responsibilities than actually meeting them.

Showing up matters, because other people care that you’re there.  People know when we’ve made the effort, and it shows care and respect for others.  We may not feel like being at training or a conference, but our presence is important for the success of others.  We bring talents, skills and experience, and when we skip out we cheat others out of the opportunity to grow and improve.

Showing up matters, because it demonstrates gratitude for the opportunity.  When we complain about having to go to class, practice or our job, we forget that there are people who would do anything for the opportunity to go to college, play on our team, or gain employment.  Gratitude, like love, takes effort, commitment and practice.

Showing up matters, because every day and every event is an opportunity, not a burden.  That meeting, practice or class might offer inspiration, a new personal connection, or a dramatic change in perspective for us.  We’ll only know if we go.

I hope we show up.

-Jason Curtis