Being proactive is a life hack.
It requires courage and a belief in yourself. But if you can master this way of life, things get easy. Opportunities come from everywhere and you get an unfair advantage in life.
Speak first and go tomato red
The other day I saw a guy I used to work with.
I hadn’t seen him in years. He saw me and looked away. I saw him and looked away. My initial reaction was “I can’t be bothered.” Whenever I get this feeling I feel the fear and speak first anyway.
“Hey mate, how ya been? Remember me from the big red bank?”
“How could I forget. I see all your LinkedIn posts. What you been up to?”
What followed was a long conversation that almost didn’t happen. I had nothing to gain and would have preferred not to chat and save time.
But in the friendship recession we’re living in, where the average person is lonely as hell (including me sometimes), we have to go out of our way to socialize. The 2020 virus has made us hermit crabs afraid to leave our shells.
At the end of the chat we exchanged numbers. Now he’s introduced me to several new clients I didn’t have before.
Go first and piss your pants
Have you ever been in a situation where in front of a large group of people there’s a call for volunteers? I have.
I’d always say nothing. I’d crawl to the back of the group so I didn’t make eye contact or accidentally get picked. This is how you destroy opportunities. It also secretly crushes your confidence over time.
Instead, you want to feel your face go red and always try to go first.
People pay attention to those who go first. They’re seen as brave and admired. And those who go first get to learn from their experiences and follow their curiosity to unlikely places.
One time I went first was at a conference.
They opened the floor to questions and without hesitation I walked up to the mic and asked the celebrity diver from the Thailand cave rescue a question. I picked an interesting one.
“Did you ever think about losing your own life while saving theirs? And would you have felt guilty if something went wrong and your family lost you?”
It was a risky question and that’s why no one else asked it.
After the conference I had many people come up to me and want to chat. They couldn’t believe a skinny dude whose voice shook asking the question would say something so intense.
It was supposed to be a light-hearted Q&A.
One of those people I met because of that question ended up helping me find a job when I got fired. He saw something in me because I went first.
You only get out of life what you put in. Go first to inject more, and therefore, get out more.
This is one of the hardest.
No one wants to fail in public because it’s embarrassing. Failing first is when you take a risk you know is highly likely to crash and burn.
I did it when I quit banking and jumped to a new industry. Within a few months the whole thing went up in flames and I looked like an idiot.
The rest of my team in banking were still waiting for their redundancies. I gave mine up to fail first and try to figure out the next step. As a result I found my ideal career much faster.
Many of my colleagues are still stuck in finance and never made a decision. So a boring option got handed to them by default.
What I found weird is people actually respect you more when you fail in public — especially when you admit it.
Originally I shared the story of losing $1.2M. A few people called me a dumbass. But mostly, people loved hearing it.
- It inspired them to take a risk.
- It showed them that even when everything collapses, you can still rebuild your empire with the skills and wisdom you retain.
The first one who fails gets all the glory. Failures equal wisdom points.
Someone loses a loved one.
Or a colleague gets fired. Have you ever noticed how few people volunteer to help first? They wait for a leader to offer help and then pile in behind them to get the kindness points.
But the person who gets remembered for the help is the person who helped first. They did it out of kindness rather than obligation or to follow the crowd.
We all have the ability to help. The challenge is we often don’t do it because we’re too busy with our own problems. But when we help others with their problems we bizarrely solve ours at the same time.
Helpful people are the real heroes. They’re the ones that make society function. Become one. Offer help first.
The people you help never forget and will repay you in the future in the most unusual and unpredictable ways. And the people who can never repay you are the ones you should help.
Take a risk when everyone else is playing it safe
That’s the theme of this story.
Those who go first are taking more risks rather than those cruising through life on auto-pilot afraid to fail. There is no meaning and fulfillment without risk. Those who never take risks blend into the background.
The tasks above are comfort zone challenges in disguise. They teach you to do hard things so that life becomes easier over time.
So next time you’re in a lift and everyone is awkwardly looking at each other, say hi first. Break the ice. Because ice-breaker-people show others and themselves their potential.
Use courage to unlock big rewards. Go first.