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Going First Gives You an Unfair Advantage in Life

by | Sep 18, 2023 | Life Hacks

If there’s one thing that can change your life, it’s going freaking first.

Who the heck wants to do that though? At work I used to weasel my way out of anything. “Any volunteers to stay back late and help clients?”

I’d run for the elevator.

One evening our bank systems went down. Management forced us all to get on a call and gave us a sob story about how businesses couldn’t pay their employees. I didn’t give a flying you know what.

I was one of the only employees not to help out. It sounded smart.

Over time, though, I got passed over for opportunities. The issue was I didn’t understand the power of going first.

It’s rare an Instagram picture quote makes me fall down.

This one did:

Image credit-ZachProgrob via Instagram

People lost their minds over this picture.

Over the coming days it got reshared all over the internet. And it highlights the power of going first.

Our ego stops us from doing it. It wants to protect us from harm and help us to stay clear of risks. It tells us “you’re better than that.”

When you go first you get judged.

One year I made it to the Toastmasters state finals for public speaking.

I had a trick that got me there. I refused to ever speak first on a topic. I’d let the other speakers go first and then borrow some of their points for my speech. I’d notice what they’d do, listen to their feedback, then have a go.

I got the advantage of learning from their speech, but what I gave up was originality and the art of surprise. My speeches became predictable. They sounded like nothing more than rebuttals.

The truly creative speakers had stories to share that were so far from the main narrative of the other speakers, that they blew the judges’ minds.

I later learned that the speakers who went first were perceived to be more courageous and confident and this allowed their speeches to feel better even if they weren’t better.

Going first can suck.

Fear loves to mess with our minds. It loves to make up stories about what could happen if we go first.

So we don’t.

It’s more comfortable to do nothing or take action when the coast is clear. But that screws up our instincts and reduces our courage muscle. Over time we become weaker individuals and act with less courage.

The outcome is we take fewer risks, drown in comfort, refuse to change, and plateau in life which leaves us with a feeling of “is this all there is?”

The one who goes first takes it all and loses nothing from trying.

Going first is a mindset.

It screams you’re proactive and willing to take action despite the circumstances. It helps to define your character and validate who you’re becoming.

I’d argue going first is a way of life.

Some get it and some don’t. If you go first and it doesn’t work then there’s no downside. You just try again. The only time there’s a perceived downside from going first is when you fear what people think.

The antidote is to forget what people think. You do you.

If someone thinks you’re an idiot for going first that’s normally only because they’re too scared to and seeing you do it is bringing forth their own insecurities.

First is far beyond second.

This sounds like a sigma grindset line. It’s not.

Going first isn’t about being a competitive sports bro and having to win to tick a box and collect a useless gold medal.

Going first matters because no one remembers what came second. We all know that the iPhone was the first touchscreen phone with an app store. What touchscreen phone came second?

No one knows. Maybe Android. Who cares.

History forgets what came second. What we remember is courage. We remember innovation. We remember first breakthroughs.

It’s why we remember the gentlemen who first landed on the moon, but we forget who landed there second. After the first breakthrough the subsequent breakthroughs are business-as-usual.

The reason to go first and be remembered isn’t to become famous. It’s to be remembered so you can take the attention and focus it towards a meaningful goal. It’s what well-known tech founders have done throughout time.

They’ve taken the attention and money their software has given them and then used it to solve hard problems. Like going to Mars. Like making electric cars mainstream. Like solving climate issues. Like funding vaccines to alleviate future spamdemics.

Attention is bad only if it’s used to fund fame.

Because fame is a useless tool that steals your privacy and sh*ts on your family’s lives for the rest of their lives.

Doers beat dreamers.

Going first just means you have a bias towards action.

You don’t sit there drowning in regrets, procrastination, what-ifs, and overthinking. You just act in spite of risk and adversity.

Action is the only way because at any moment your heart could stop beating and there won’t be time to reconcile. The light of consciousness will have left you and all will be forgotten.

Going first means you treat life like a video game. You play, explore, experiment, shake up the room, and understand it’ll all be gone in a split second one day.

So what are you waiting for?

The rewards come from going first. It’s a decision to make every day. Lean in. Fail. Get rejected. Try. Try again.

If you go first you take control rather than wait a thousand sunrises and still see nothing happen. Nothing good happens from waiting, so you may as well go first and make things happen.

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