“If you are first, you are first. If you are second, you are nothing.” – William Shankly
It was during a timeout during a seventh grade basketball game.
We were down by a single point and had just a few seconds left in the game. Our coach drew up the plan, looked into the eyes of the five boys about to take the court. He then shared very heroically: “Gentleman, this is your chance. This is your moment to win. There are no points for second place!”
No points for second place.
“Be the first” is drilled into our consciousness as kids. It’s the voice we hear frequently from our coaches, parents and friends. It’s echoed by sports media as they hammer the losers and glorify the winners.
It’s a lesson we learn advancing through school. It’s the gentle reminder we internalize as we take our seats after missing words for the spelling bee.
As we get older, we certainly see that in finishing first professionally we move forward. It guides staff, quarterly results and stock performance.
And, if you ever find yourself in an airport, it’s a gentle voice we hear as we race through TSA and toward our plane. Be the first. Grab your seat. Make sure you have luggage space for your bag.
My friends, I believe in keeping score. I don’t believe every team deserves a ribbon for showing up. It’s wise to advance educationally and professionally based on merit.
But the movement toward and the focus on sprinting toward first comes with a cost of actually believing we’re here – in this relationship, in this business, on this athletic field, in this life – simply for ourselves.
In racing to put others first, listen for their needs, empower them to live up to the fullness of their life, we not only inspire them, but also are elevated in our thinking, in our words, in our actions, and in our results. [Tweet this] | [Share on Facebook]
This belief that we need to be first not only negatively impacts the way we play the game, but those unfortunate enough to play with us.
Don’t get me wrong, I want people to succeed, to shine, to thrive and even “to be the first.” Be the first to reach out your hand to assist or to hold the door for another.
Be the first to say “good morning” or “thank you” or “I love you” or “I am sorry.” Be the first to show up, to be present, to not judge, to give fully of yourself, to be ALL IN every day.
In being first in these things, you’ll most certainly discover that, regardless of what the scoreboard shows as time expires, you can be at peace knowing that you gave it your all, raced the good race, and were truly victorious.
This is your day to be first.
Has there been a time that you’ve achieved more by putting others first? Please share in the comments below.