The Power of Being the First Jumper

by | Sep 7, 2021

Tris jumping off a building in the movie adaptation of Divergent


The Divergent series of young adult books by Veronica Roth is set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian Chicago. In Divergent society is divided into five factions: Abnegation (selfless), Erudite (intellectual), Dauntless (brave), Candor (honest), and Amity (peaceful). The main character, Tris, was born into Abnegation but an aptitude test reveals that she doesn’t fit into any of the factions — she’s “divergent.” When she’s 16 she’s allowed to pick which faction to join for training and she picks Dauntless.

As part of their training, Dauntless initiates are given tests of bravery, the hardest being taking a leap of faith off a seven-story building into “the hole.” Tris is the first to volunteer to jump off the building and standing on the edge and looking down she can’t see how or where she’ll land. For all she knows, the jump may mean death. She fights back her fear and jumps. After a long fall, she lands in a net. Her act of bravery earns her the nickname “the First Jumper” and establishes her as a leader among the trainees.

Be the First Jumper!

The concept of being the First Jumper has stuck with me since reading Divergent ten years ago. I’ve found the concept to be useful for acknowledging my fears yet providing motivation for taking action and moving forward. Some instances where I’ve applied First Jumper thinking include physical ones like jumping off the top of a telephone pole on a high ropes course and launching myself down a challenging ski run, as well as mental ones like being the first to raise my hand in a group of people or agreeing to MC a gala with hundreds of attendees. All of these experiences were amazing and ones I might not have done without applying First Jumper thinking.

First Jumper thinking can be applied to everyday acts of bravery — having difficult conversations, speaking up to power, or any other instance where you choose to do something hard thing.

1 Comment

  1. Manny ( probably most) first jumpers are in a position where they fill like they have no other chose. John Kennedy in the early 60’s was put in that position when the Russia’s were the first to put a man into space. He had to either admit they had won the space race or do them one better. He chose to be the first Nation to land a man on the moon! That launched it space race which the US won. However, it also launched a period of scientific discovery that led to the word we have today


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