The other day I was taking Sophie, our family dog, for a walk on a near-by trail. As we progressed down the path, another dog owner and his faithful companion approached from the opposite direction. Sophie noticed the dog and the dog noticed Sophie. Both dogs stopped. Then both dogs ran a couple of steps towards each other and stopped again. The ritual continued for a minute before Sophie could no longer contain her excitement to play and ran forth at full tilt, meeting the other dog head on. A brief obligatory dog sniff each and and the spontaneous play date was on! Both dogs had a great time for a couple of minutes before strolling back over to their respective owners and carrying on down the path in search of the next adventure or, at the very least, piece of poo to smell. The experience reminded me of the often-awkward human moments related to figuring out who should go first and made me wonder what might happen if a few more of us gave it a shot?
Gabby Reece, the talented athlete, author, mom and wife of big wave surfer, Laird Hamilton, believes strongly in the idea of “going first.” Whether it means making initial eye contact or initiating a simple “hello” in the grocery line, Gabby says the results are surprising, positive and almost always appreciated. She believes it has become too easy to opt out of life. Making a conscious effort to go first is a simple way to combat that tendency while spreading a little happiness along the way.
Going first also carries strong potential in the development of heroic potential. Going first, as a principle approach to the day, is a thoughtful way of developing initiative. Initiative is a form of bravery critical to success as it fosters the ability to overcome obstacles, hardship or general unhappiness. Initiative is the catalyst necessary to convert a dream into reality or an idea into a, well, an initiative.
I liked the idea and simplicity in execution of the “going first” philosophy enough to make it a daily intention (written out in my morning journal of course). I initiated eye contact with strangers and offered simple hellos. I waved at other drivers as we passed each other in the neighborhood. I called an old friend and followed up with a new one. I answered the phone – something I almost never do. I was amazed at how easy it was. Though there were times when my efforts were ignored, most often they were met with a complimentary smile or a welcome conversation. In one case, the effort even led to my consideration of running for political office! What??? (Stay tuned on that one…)
In the end, Gabby Reece was right, going first opened people up to a happiness they wanted but weren’t ready to act on. It was contagious – not only a solid method in developing bravery but also an excellent way to cultivate kindness. Boom! Bravery and kindness all from simply focusing on going first! Give it a shot… If you need a place to start, send me a comment as your first step.