I’m writing this post from a small town in Sudan where some other doctors and I are helping out with a medical mission running pop-up clinics in local villages (PS: check out the pics on Instagram).

When I’m in new situations like this, my default state is to stay in my own head and feel hesitant to talk to people. But there’s a little quote that I like to tell myself that goes along the lines of:

People are friendly, but you have to go first.

We had a 90-minute coach journey to one of the villages earlier today. I was initially sitting towards the back with some of the #lads who I got on with quite well. Then around halfway through the journey I reminded myself of the ‘go first’ rule and plucked up the courage to wander down the bus and speak to other groups of students, introducing myself and trying to learn some Arabic pickup lines.

I ended up making some new friends, and the rest of the day running the clinic in the village was much more enjoyable because I had built some rapport with the students on the journey there.

I’ve found that this go first rule works wonders for my self-confidence in lots of domains, from meeting new people on a Sudanese bus ride to initiating banter with senior doctors at work. So if you, like me, sometimes find yourself in situations where you’re a bit hesitant to put yourself out there, you might find the quote helpful to remember.


Enjoyed this post? If so, you might like to subscribe to the weekly email newsletter that I send out every Sunday. It usually contains a life lesson or two, along with some links to interesting articles, books and podcasts that I discover each week. Click here to check out the previous issues and maybe subscribe :)