Why You Need to Start "Going First"

July 20, 2020

Hop in a line nearly anywhere in the world, and you’ll see the same thing: person after person staring at their smartphone, oblivious to the world around them.

I’m certainly guilty of reaching for my phone to pass a seemingly dull moment.

In this culture we’ve created, we’re missing opportunities to connect with one another, to be kind, to be human. And haven’t we realized these past few months how this much this connection truly matters?

As the world opens up again, instead of sinking back to old habits, I want to invite you to take a new approach.

Go First: Creating More Connection and Serendipity

The idea is simple — Go First.

I first came across this idea of Going First while listening to an interview with volleyball champion, NYT bestselling author, and Nike’s first-ever female spokesperson, Gabby Reece. Here’s what she said:

“Say hello first. Make eye contact first. Smile first. Most times it comes in your favor. The response is pretty amazing. People are ready to respond in kind, but you have to go first, because now we’re trained in this world [to opt out] — nobody’s going first anymore.”

While going first does take a little courage, and we might be limited by the social distance we now need to keep, I know firsthand how powerful this practice can be.

I’ve made new friends in different countries, taught my first class at a proper yoga studio, had my coffee paid for, and so much more, all by simply going first.

Put it into practice

While Gabby’s message seems more focused on being kind, warm, and open to others in your daily life, I think Going First can be a powerful principle when applied to other areas in your life. Here are some examples:

Reconnect with an old friend or colleague who recently crossed your mind. Go first and reach out, say hello, and check in.

Volunteer for a new project or for a local community initiative you care about. Instead of waiting to be asked, go first and offer where your help where it’s needed.

Compliment a co-worker on a job well done. Rather than waiting for a feedback cycle to offer praise, go first and express your appreciation for their work.