"The Navigator" News Blog

The First Time is the Toughest

I just finished a welding project in my garage. A charity needed nine rolling stands for displays, and they were fairly easy to design, build and assemble. I still like doing things like this – working with my hands, building, creating something – whether it’s a project like this or something on one of my cars or motorcycles.

As is my habit, I built one all the way through, noting out the steps. Cutting the metal, drilling for casters, squaring it, welding it together, prepping it, painting the stand, then attaching wooden tack strips, casters, and finishing the tubing ends with snap-in plastic caps. Simple. But – when I’m building something in series like this, I find that the first one is to learn on, and then I get a process going and the rest are pretty easy from there.

The first one isn’t always perfect – in this one I tried to use a cheap set of casters, and they didn’t even survive being pushed across my garage floor! In fact, the first one is the hardest.

While I was working, I thought about parallels to selling. Many is the time I’ve coached a salesperson or business owner on prospecting, and the project goes sideways when it’s time for them to pick up the phone and actually do it. Even with those salespeople with strong call reluctance, if I can get them past the first one – and then the first three or four – things smooth out and they have success.

It’s the first one that is the problem.

This seems to work the same way when it comes to learning, and then applying, new techniques. The technique that worked great in role-play and classroom setting somehow seems daunting to implement in front of the customers – but when that bridge is crossed, the next implementations are easier and successful.

My display stand project, essentially, is like being pushed out of your comfort zone. The first application is by far the hardest – and from there, everything else is easier.