We’ve all heard of something being “Second Nature,” – a skill or habit someone does so well they don’t have to think about it.

Walking, tying your shoes, riding a bike, brushing your teeth, speaking your language… are all second nature.

So here’s my question… what is First Nature?

When I first considered it I had an immediate answer in my mind, one I’ve never learned from anyone, my own postulate, but I needed to test it.

So I googled it.

Generally, all the responses fall into one of two categories, neither of which I agree with.

Some say our First Nature is our fundamental biological and physiological functions – breathing, swallowing, chewing, sucking, eating.

The problem with that premise is, if those are first nature, once something like tying your shoes becomes as natural as those, wouldn’t we say it’s become “first nature,” not “second nature?” It doesn’t fit.

Some say First Nature is our primal/predatory/survival instinct. Well, those are definitely fundamental, but they’re not specific to a habit or activity. They are instead, general mindsets, internal directives.

To call those “first nature,” and tying your shoes “second nature” is like saying first fruit is an apple and second fruit is a hot dog. Again, it doesn’t work.

So, here is my premise, you tell me if I’m right.

If second nature means you can do it without thinking about it, first nature means… you have to think about it.

Or more specifically… 

Our First Nature is utter inability, fervid desire, and repeated failing action… until we succeed.

First Nature is to be incapable, to want, to try, and to fail over and over again until we succeed.

Have you ever watched a baby learn to walk? That is First Nature.

Babies see others walk. They want to walk. They try versions of walking – rolling, crawling, pulling themselves up, holding on to a couch for balance – they fall A LOT, they look funny and are usually both laughed at and encouraged, and ultimately… most babies walk.

Do you think there’s a secret formula emerging here?

First Nature is the essence of and formula for all success… 

We embrace our First Nature – do what is awkward and unfamiliar – until it becomes Second Nature. 


To grow, to progress, indeed to continue living, we must regularly embrace our first nature. 

It is even more difficult but nonetheless imperative that companies and organizations continually embrace their First Nature.

In a previous writing I referred to this general idea as “Going Into The New,” trying things, a growth path.

So, what’s the difference?

The difference is that “going into the new,” is a great practice; “Embracing” our First Nature underscores the fact that this practice/process – inability, desire, and failing action until we succeed – is who we are!

It’s how we come into the world.

This is not just one of the options… it is our only option for life, growth and success.

So, how often are you embracing your First Nature?

When is the last time you asked a question you don’t already know the answer to?

When is the last time you risked, put yourself into a situation where you don’t know how, there are people watching, and you gave it a shot anyway?

How often do you try a few times… and give up?

When we fail to act because we’re afraid we’ll fail and/or look silly, we deny our very essence, our First Nature.

Next week I will explore this more deeply, particularly what keeps us fromembracing our First Nature.

Until then, please share this on your social media.

Live Truly, Truly Live,


PS Here’s an idea: The What IF? Challenge is one great way for you and/or your entire organization to embrace their First Nature: https://mikerayburndev.wpengine.com/challenge/

Caution: The What IF Challenge will take you out of your comfort zone. 

Thus… it speaks directly to embracing your First Nature.

It is risk to…

Maybe it’s time to embrace your First Nature.

Take the What IF? Challenge.

One Response

  1. Wow. This is a great read! I think you nailed it right on the head. Feels like there could be an entire book on this question.

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