They say that second place is just the first loser. People soon forget who came in second in any competition. I couldn’t tell you very many runner ups in championship games throughout history, but we certainly keep good record of first place as people.
Before two years ago when I was laid off, I worked four years in management for a company just south of Atlanta. I learned a ton from that experience, but the lesson that sticks out the most is what I call “tell your story first”. Often a workplace becomes a political rat race with everyone jockeying for position and favorable perceptions from the boss and the bosses bosses boss. Whenever there was an incident however small or large, the person who first told the story seemed to have an advantage over those who came later to tell the same story, and if there were different versions of the same story, the first story was usually the one that was accepted as the official version. So, I began to make it my business to tell the story first. Anything I believed would make it to my bosses office I made my priority to bring him first.
This morning, as my three kids and I were reading a story from the Bible together, I was reminded of this idea of telling the story first. I realized that though they are only 9, 7, and 5 there could be and likely have been things about life that they have heard and seen at school, church, the babysitter’s, on the bus, or the soccer field….. that my wife and I may not have had a chance to talk to them about yet. Today, more than any time in our history, children are exposed to information and images that previous generations weren’t exposed to til much later in their lives. Parents, at least this one, often feel like their kids are too young to talk about things like: sex, drugs, religion, death, and the list goes on, but today I was awakened (speaking of Awaken…. 2/26/2011, in case you were wondering) to the notion that I have to tell the story first as much as I can with my children. They will remember where they first heard about subjects like those I’ve mentioned. When they do, I want the voice they remember telling the story to be mine.