Ten Things to Remember About Firsts
I did not realize until I arrived that the conference I was presenting at was a “First.” (It was a FIRST Whole Body Health Conference in Kansas City). Firsts are always challenging. It was my first time making a PowerPoint presentation. It was my first time hosting a booth at such a conference. If we look back on our “firsts” we can remember a great deal of anxiety and effort and lack of confidence—usually not a lot of success and a lot to learn. But there has to be a “first” before there can be a “second” or a “third.” So bless those people who are willing to go to that uncomfortable place and create a “first”. Monica and Rick Stoneking were those people who envisioned this conference and put it together, and my congratulations go out to them. I think they felt very disappointed that more of the public did not participate, but that is another truth about firsts—it is hard to generate a lot of interest the first time we do anything.
So I found myself musing about “firsts” in my life and collected a list of “Ten Things to Remember About Firsts” to share with you:
- Look at what went well. It is so easy to focus on the things we are disappointed about, but it is important not to lose sight of what went well. Monica wisely pointed out that this was a very effective coming together of vendors who were passionate about helping to foster health and well-being. What’s not to celebrate about that? Health was focused on and discussed from many different angles—movement, nutrition, mental health. People coming together to discuss and learn about how to live healthier lives is a wonderfully powerful opportunity for good things to happen.
- It is great exposure. When we put ourselves out there to do something for the first time, we see who else is doing or has done what we are trying to do. Often we really can’t know what others may be doing in our area of interest or passion until we get out there and do something about it for the first time. We are exposed to new people and new ideas, and others are exposed to our ideas and passions.
- We are learning. After we have done something for the first time, we know more than we knew before we did it. Period. We have learned very valuable lessons about how we may want to go forward and what to do in the future. Sometimes we may feel we have spent too much time or money on this “first” experience, but tuition is expensive because it is so valuable.
- Expect to feel awkward. There will be awkwardness. It’s a first. None of us like feeling awkward or incompetent. That may be why we don’t do “firsts” very often. If we can expect it and roll with it, perhaps it won’t be so bad.
- We are building confidence. After doing something once, we should feel less awkward and more confident about doing it again. Facing our fears of failure and rejection should help quiet the voices. Sometimes it doesn’t, especially if we label our efforts a “failure.” We need to remember the famous Edison quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10 000 ways that won’t work.” If this is a first, we should expect some mistakes and some failures. We can build confidence in the second being better.
- Start small. One of the main problems I have had with “firsts” is starting too big. I invest too much. I assume there will be a lot of interest. I prepare too many flyers. I think everybody in the world will be as interested and passionate about what I am doing as I am. I have actually never found that to be the case. And yet I keep making that same mistake. In reality, making a difference in just one life is a huge accomplishment. Your first effort may be small, but it can still make a big difference.
- Remember humor. I was blessed to have my husband come with me at this “first.” He loves to carry things for me, and I needed lots of things carried so it worked out really well. But more importantly, we have learned to do an awfully lot of laughing together. Usually when we are feeling uncomfortable, a good laugh can help put us at ease. So when dealing with the awkwardness of firsts, laugh a lot, and find someone to laugh with you.
- Listen and observe. Because firsts are often such a learning experience, we can enhance that experience by doing a lot of listening and observing. What are others doing? How are they doing it? What background and experience do they have? In what ways do they improve and market what they do? How can you support them in their efforts? How can they help you? What similarities do you see? What differences? What catches your eye? What touches your heart?
- Acknowledge that we are all rather fragile humans. Firsts are a good lesson in this fragility and the importance of being very kind and compassionate with each other AND with ourselves. Hopefully, if we can be supportive of each other, many firsts will turn into even better seconds and eventually thirds. Support and kindness can make all the difference.
- Try again. It will be better.
So to all those who came, thank you for attending or presenting. We were pioneers. Hooray for us! Look forward to coming together again next year and improving what we experienced this time. Thank you for reaching out to me and/or listening to me. Thank you for talking to me and sharing your passion with me. Over time, I believe events like this can help make a difference and create positive alternatives for those who are seeking a better way.
So what are some “firsts” that you have had in your life, and what did you learn from them? What advice would you give others who may be nervously contemplating a “first?”