On Doing “Firsts” with Confidence: Or a story about going to the Houses of Parliament

One of the things you will constantly run into as a small business owner is “firsts”—things you do for the first time. Even after you have been in business for a while, there are always—and good thing too—new things that you have to tackle that you haven’t come across before.

This is not just about having to send quotes on things you have never done before. It is about networking with confidence in new situations where you feel out of place, it is about tackling that big issue that you really have no idea what to do about and it is always about showing confidence when you haven’t got any.

The Houses of Parliament

Let me tell you a personal story about my most memorable and so far most-frightening “first”.

A couple of years ago I was invited by David Roth at The Store at WPP to attend a seminar on doing business in China in London. Nothing unusual about that. What was special was that the seminar was preceded by a lunch mingle session at the Houses of Parliament.

So there I was. Right in the Houses of Parliament amidst senior executives at some of the biggest advertising agencies in the world and members of the house of lords. Half the age of everyone else and running my own business. Needless to say, I was frightened before.

I buckled up the courage and went. Obviously you just cannot pass on an invitation to the Houses of Parliament. Sure, it was a little uncomfortable. But you bet I was happy afterwards. This year I was invited back again for the second time and it was much easier and I was able to be there with much greater courage. Next year? I’m already looking forward to it.

The moral of my story is that success in part can be determined at how well we handle the firsts. You don’t need to do things perfectly the first time, but you can’t shy away from them. I guarantee you, being able to do something and appearing confident even when you are not is a great skill, one that will not let you down.