Let Go of the Need to Make a Good First Impression
Many of us grow up hearing “You only get one chance at making a good first impression.” We are taught this when applying for schools, for jobs, and when finding friends and partners.
It’s no wonder that so many people are blocked from their authentic creativity. I also believe this is why so many of us are not consistent in creating content, due to this deep philosophical limitation.
Years ago I encountered this quote, which had a life-shifting impact for me:
“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Over the years, I’ve practiced not worrying about making a good first impression.
For example, this may be the first blog post you’ve read from me. Maybe it’s making a poor first impression on you… should I be afraid of losing you as a potential reader?
When I used to focus on that fear, it would hinder me greatly from writing and publishing… there were too many people I might disappoint, readers I could "lose", or bad word-of-mouth that would damage my business… if I didn’t make a good first impression.
Eventually, I came to see this fallacy of thinking:
- Publish something mediocre.
- Damage my reputation forever.
Now, after years of building a sizable audience, and coaching others to do the same, I’ve learned that reality works more like this...
- Publish something.
- Your audience will react when it's good. (When it’s not, they’re usually silent.)
- If it's actually bad, you may lose a few readers for a while...
- Yet, if you keep publishing, you will naturally learn from audience feedback, and your content will improve over time.
- Some of the potential readers you lost (from a poor first impression) will find their way back to you, given the positive word-of-mouth. That’s one of the benefits of social media.
- Many more new people will also find you, thanks to the volume of content you have now published.
- Most importantly, you grow every time you lean into your courage and post something. You practice ignoring fear – an emotional reaction to the illusion of a scarce reality, when in fact the universe is abundant and the opportunities limitless. Each time you publish, you get another opportunity to improve. Without publishing, you won't truly improve.
If you worry about the first impression, you are giving yourself too much pressure. This causes undue strain, and will prevent you from making enough impressions (to practice enough) in order to become truly excellent.
For any one effort of publishing or outreach, I don’t think “This better be a good one.” Instead, I am already thinking of several impressions ahead… knowing that what’s really needed for growth is the practice of making more impressions.
You can apply this to various aspects of business, whether it's blog posts, making videos, writing books, launching products, or reaching out for potential referral partners.
It's more important to grow through action, than to avoid making a bad first impression.
In 2015, I applied this lesson when I started making videos. If I had allowed fear to rule, I would not have been able to make 100 videos, and you wouldn't now be seeing new videos from me consistently.
For me, it comes down to this question — Do I let fear rule, and give energy to the illusion of scarcity? … or shall I allow Love to rule, and surrender to the truth of an abundant, creative universe?
The more we let love rule, the more courage we grow, and the faster we learn.
I applied this lesson to publishing my first book -- Authentic Content Marketing.
For a long time I was afraid of publishing a book.
I wanted to first develop many case studies, to have really smart ideas, to be an amazing writer, before I published my first book.
A book! With the potential of bad reviews! How could I live with that?
I now realize, I can live with anything. I believe that nothing is permanent except for divine love.
The only way to truly learn is to keep making impressions. Let go of the need for a good first impression. Just make the next impression, and the next, and the next… each time, learning a bit more about improving yourself.
Eventually, good word of mouth will spread about you, but it probably won’t be from your first impression, nor from your 11th! Let go of the requirement of praise from others, and focus on the joy of creating.
You have many, many opportunities to make impressions in this lifetime. Take action now, and you will certainly get stronger and better over time.
Go forth and make your next impression :)
Originally written in 2017, updated 2022.