No one wants to take the first piece of dessert because of the chance it’s been touched. People prefer the pieces in the back. The same goes for the first milk carton at the grocery. Why grab the first one we can see presumably untouched versions inches behind?
No one wants to sit in the front of the classroom because it increases our chances of getting called on. We prefer to sit in the back, hiding like a needle in a haystack.
No one wants to be the first to dance at a gala. But everyone starts dancing as soon as one couple makes the first move. People feel more comfortable in conforming when they can blend in.
Who wants to be first? No one, typically.
No matter how much we obsess with primacy, most people fear to take that first step. People desire success, but they refuse the extra attention that comes with it.
But being first can become normal quickly. The jitters fade after we decide to dive in. We halt the mind’s exaggeration and imaginary fears.
So that piece of cake is just as fresh. Buying the first carton of milk makes it taste no different than the rest. Sitting in front of the classroom is as equitable as the back. And taking that first dance becomes a pleasant rhythm everyone else wants to mimic.
No one actually cares about standing out as much as we think!
There’s no harm in being the first to make the leap. As opportunity dries up, hesitating to the end can even be more uncomfortable.
The longer we wait, the worse it gets. In some cases, it’s better to go first and get it over with than fueling a sense of doubt.
People learn through experience and clear examples. That’s why classrooms and meetings are full of images, maps, and graphs.
But the teaching only starts there. It’s the teacher’s responsibility to give context to the material. A good teacher communicates effectively and provokes different trains of thought amongst students.
Meanwhile, it’s the student’s responsibility to be curious and ask questions. A good student thinks alone but bounces off ideas within the classroom.
Teaching and learning are reciprocal relationships that lean on an open forum. So while visual examples explain everything, they don’t make sense until the material in them gets talked about or written down.
Goals create focus. But those same goals can also crimp the pursuit.
Instead of focusing on the goal, focus on the process.
Instead of relentlessly pursuing positivity, happily chase failure.
A real goal is one that’s doom to fail. It probably is impossible. But no one succeeds in their first try. Life is a game of increments.
Skip progress and perfection and embrace process and uncertainty. Show up everyday, do the work, and ship it if it’s good enough. Keep the practice of patience and success will meet you on the other side.
1. Frederich Church was a devout Protestant. However, he prioritized his interests and curiosities over religion. Since he was an artist, he may have also used his house to market/differentiate himself from the others.
2. The museum had a couple offices inside. I would say that seeing those rooms tainted the illusion. When you’re recreating stories, you should probably close the door on modernity.
Story short, you have to admire Church for doing something different in a more parochial era of American culture. But you have to do what no one else is doing if you want to stand out. Uniqueness is timeless.