Chelsea Handler is wildly successful.
In 2006, at age 31, the New Jersey native got her own talk show on the E! network; she’s authored five New York Times bestsellers; she has landed spots on Forbes’ Celebrity 100 and Power Women lists, and was named one of Time’s Most Influential People in 2012.
Most recently, the millionaire comedian and actress explored racism, drugs, marriage, and Silicon Valley in the four-part Netflix docuseries “Chelsea Does.”
How did she accomplish all this — and more — by age 40?
She showed up … for almost everything.
In a recent post for LinkedIn‘s latest editorial package, “How I Launched My Career,” Handler, now 41, says she learned the importance of showing up while waitressing in her early 20s.
“I was never the best waitress, but I was always the person people called when they needed a shift covered because I would always say yes,” she writes.
“Whether that was a result of wanting to be liked from years of rejection in high school, or whether it was wanting to be dependable and reliable after years of being the opposite, I just wanted people to feel that they could count on me,” she says in her LinkedIn post, titled “I Used to Hate Doing Stand Up. Then I Discovered the Power of Showing Up.” “I didn’t want to work the extra shifts, [but it] gave me a sense of worth and reliability.”
Later in life, she says her habit for dependability bled into her stand-up career. “I kept showing up. When there were only two people in the audience … I showed up and did ten minutes of material.”
She’d also show up to “open mic nights” at coffee houses, which she “absolutely dreaded.” “I hated doing stand-up in the beginning. I couldn’t wait for a set to be canceled because no one showed, but after getting cold feet many times, I made an agreement with myself that I would show up, get up, and do my set, no matter what the circumstance,” she writes.
Once Handler showed up enough times, it became her reality, she says. “It was no longer an option to not show up. I now practice ‘showing up’ with everything I do. It has permeated every facet of my life. Whether it’s wanting to cancel a workout, a friend’s party, a public appearance, my family in New Jersey. Whatever it is, when I commit, I show up.”
And if she really can’t show up for something, she’s honest about it. “I don’t over-explain with an excuse that I’m sick or that my children are sick … because I’m not sick and I don’t have children, and all of those excuses are transparent, and you become unreliable,” she writes.
She says over the years she’s learned to be selective about what she commits to showing up to.
“I spent the first ten years of my career saying yes to absolutely everything and then harboring resentment for having said yes in the first place,” she writes. Now she focuses on showing up “for the people in my life who deserve my loyalty” — her friends, family, and mentors.
“Showing up shows great character,” she concludes. “And once you master the art of physically showing up, the art of mentally showing up usually takes care of itself.”
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