One of the things I love about my work is that I get to have a lot of FIRSTS. I work with a company for the FIRST time. I work with an individual or group for a FIRST time. I learn about an industry for a FIRST time. I eat at a restaurant for FIRST time. I get to visit a city for a FIRST time. There was a time in my career that I was afraid for FIRSTS. FIRSTS were scary to me because they were unfamiliar and new and I was afraid of not knowing. That feeling disappeared a long time ago - for the most part. Not only do I enjoy the FIRSTS now. but the people I work with enjoy that it is a FIRST for me. Being with someone, like me, when it is my FIRST can remind others what they take for granted - of what they no longer see because it is part of their everyday. In some ways, it's like having a child and as the parent you get to experience many things through your child's eyes as a FIRST. We all recognize the look that comes on a parent's face when they see their child take their FIRST steps or taste their FIRST lemon or touch their FIRST puppy dog. It's hard to tell who is more excited - the child or the parent. I had several FIRSTS in the last 24 hours. After 30 years of traveling for work. I went to NYC for the FIRST time yesterday. Can you believe it? I have been to Atlanta. LA. San Francisco, San Juan. Paris. Oxford. even Istanbul - but never the Big Apple. I also got to work with a brand new client and meet 30 new people. I had a driver named Sing. who is my new best friend in NYC. He was delighted to tell me all about his city and indulge me as I reveled in my FIRST. My other best friend is Felicia, who made sure I was treated like a princess as part of my FIRST trip to NYC.
One of the things you get to do when you are having a FIRST is ask a lot of questions? I get to ask dumb questions because I don't know any better. The pressure to be smart is taken away. I don't know anything about how this organization or group works. I don't know why or what people do. I always get answers. but my favorite answers fall in two categories ...
1) They get into telling me all about it, or
2) They can't answer my question because they don't know
I experienced both on this trip and it was awesome!
Here are some of the questions I asked (with no answers provided)
- Why are their garbage bags stacked all along the sidewalk?
- Do the garbage guys just pick up stuff at night, cuz I saw them last night but not during the day?
- Why does the Statue of Liberty look so much smaller in person?
- What is the name of that really cool old bridge?
- Where does Manhattan switch from the West Side to the East Side?
- Is that the Empire State Building?
- Where is the Theatre District?
- How can you stand driving here?
- What is the difference between a green taxi and a yellow taxi?
- How big is Central Park?
- Was the park built first, and the city built around it? or the other way around?
- How many taxis in Manhattan?
- Is Central Park safe now?
- What is the big deal about NYC pizza?
- Are you a Mets fan or a Yankees fan?
- What do you enjoy about being a limo driver in NYC?
- How well do the people on this team know each other?
- What is your definition of success for this team?
- How much of yourself are you willing to give to this project?
- Do you know where Balto, the sled dog statue, is in Central Park?
- If I pay you extra, will you take me there and take my picture with him on the way to the airport?
My awesome driver, Sing, found a place to park the car, walked with me 4 blocks to Central Park, took me right to Balto, helped me up on the statue, and took pictures of me and this awesome sled dog. He knew where the "dog statue" was, but had no clue why it was a big deal. He got to take me to the place and I got to tell him why the dog was famous. I had a FIRST and so did he.
My challenge for you is to have a FIRST this week; I don't care what it is, but have a FIRST and ask the dumb questions - give up the need to be smart.
If you are interested in thinking deeper about this concept of adaptation (when the newness or novelty of something wears off and we lose interest), check out The Paradox of Choice.