I was six months into training Jiu-Jitsu when I found myself standing across from my first opponent in a state-wide competition.
He had trained much longer, and I simply wasn’t on his level.
So he submitted me.
Looking back, I lasted much longer than perhaps I should have.
The fight taught me a valuable lesson. Not in the four and a half minutes of sloppily trying to defend myself while failing to implement the one technique I was half-good at, but in the opening ten seconds of the match.
The referee said ‘Combach!‘ And we were on. I locked eyes with my opponent as we each hesitated. We stared each other down for less than three seconds before my coach’s voice pierced my ear with a nugget of wisdom which has been bouncing around my head ever since;
‘Be first Luke. Be First!’
Without thinking twice, I took his advice. I closed the distance, took my grips forcefully, and executed the guard pull which I’d drilled for weeks leading up to the comp.
I caught my opponent completely un-prepared, and I had the fight where I needed it to be.
I created opportunity by seizing initiative.
I didn’t win, but I put myself in a position where I could have. A position I wouldn’t have found myself in had I not bitten the bullet and committed to action.
It’s unlikely that I would have lasted as long as I did had I not seized control of the fight at the start.
The importance of this extends far beyond losing Jiu-Jitsu fights slower than you could have.
We all have moments every day when we could use a coach to prompt us into action, but hiring someone to follow you around whispering ‘be first‘ every forty seconds is expensive.
In life, we have to be our own coaches.
Remind yourself constantly.
Carpe diem translates to ‘seize the day’, but it means seize the moment.
Seize every moment possible.
You bump into a friend on the street and you’re both waiting for the other to extend their hand, or offer a hug?
You and a stranger are both politely waiting for the other to get on the bus, and now you’re holding up the queue?
Your lecturer asked a remedial question that everyone in the class should know the answer to, but nobody wants to risk answering?
Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, someone will be thankful you did.
What have you risked? Nothing.
The only think you’ve risked the one-in-a-hundred chance of an awkward three seconds, and you’re probably better for it.
Being first is always better than waiting for someone else to be.
Who’s the most decisive person you know? Who’s the most confident? Next time you see them, notice that they’ve made this a habit.
Try and think of one person you look up to who doesn’t put their front foot forward. Can you? I can’t.
Be first friends. Start now.