Tapping the Radical Power of Firsts


I married my high school sweetheart. I remember leaning over the back of a green rocking chair, in 1969, and kissing her upside down. We were 13. It was my first stolen kiss.

I remember learning to ride a bike, drive a car, and the first time, at sixteen, I gave a public presentation.

Firsts transform us.

Change someone by helping them do something they haven’t done before. You remember the people who helped you do things you’d never done.

Talking is good; doing is better.

Incremental or radical:

Skill development is incremental, one practice built on another. But, there’s nothing like the first time you led a meeting, ran a project, fired an employee, or gave a presentation. It radically changed you.

Successful leaders enable firsts in others.

Powerful firsts:

  1. Propel leaders on their journey. Connect this “new thing” to their big picture.
  2. Include pushing. Let them know you believe in them while you’re pushing them out of the nest. Kick, don’t coddle. Admittedly, finding the right amount of push requires skill.
  3. Create fear and stress. Reaching high is hard.
  4. Involve stumbling. If they get it right the first time, it was too easy.
  5. After stumbles, give stew-time. Don’t rush in like momma. Set up debrief meetings a day or two after their first.
  6. Focus on being as well as doing. Ask, “How are you becoming who you want to be?”
  7. Require improvement opportunities. Give second and third chances.

Someone gave you first-opportunities that changed you. Return the favor – change others – by giving them their firsts.

What firsts changed you?

How can leaders effectively give first opportunities?

TODAY! Learn how Stephen M.R. Covey failed and succeeded at building trust during the merger of arch-rival organizations.Listen live to his personal journey through a crisis of trust.