The proverb literally means that when there are many birds vying with each other to catch a single worm, the bird that arrives early has the best chance of catching the worm. Similarly in life a person must be well ahead of others in terms of efforts or preparation. Only then can he make best use of the limited opportunities that are available. One must plan well in advance and grab at chances before the others arrive. Only then can success be yours.
Daya was a vegetable vendor in a small village. The vegetables and fruits that he sold in his shop were always fresh and everyday there were loads of people frequenting his shop. Daya opened his shop much before the others and invariably all his stocks were exhausted by noon and he went home a happy man with a bag full of money. This caused a lot of jealousy among the other vendors in the market because the crowd was always more in Daya’s shop than in theirs. They agreed that his stocks were fresh but never really understood the reason.
The other vendors decided to spy on Daya to find out the reason for his success. So one afternoon they followed him as he closed his shop for the day. Daya went home, rested and then set out in his bullock cart by evening to the nearby town where the wholesale market was located. Daya rested there for the night and got up very early in the morning and bought all the stocks that he required and returned to his village before sunrise. This way he was able to get fresh stocks from the wholesale market at cheaper rates and open his shop much before the others. Moreover there was no wastage since he could sell all his stocks.
The other vendors realized that the secret behind Daya's success was his hard work and good planning. He made sure he was well ahead of all the others in procuring the vegetables so that he got fresh stocks, even if it meant sacrificing his sleep. Daya was well aware that to succeed one had to grab opportunities at the earliest because that was the only way to have an edge over the others.
Other vendors in the same market where Daya sells his vegetables now understood the reason for the success of Daya. They started to follow the methods of Daya in order to make success.