Growing up I was always involved in sports. I played football, basketball, and baseball competitively. I was probably good in all of them, but not great. For better or worse being good in a small town is usually enough to be a starter and receive some minor accolades.
When playing against other small schools I was usually one of the better players. Does that mean I was a star? No way, but against average competition sometimes I looked like it. Worse yet, sometimes believed I was.
The problem with achieving some level of success is that it can many times inflate your ego and negatively impact your work habits or competitive drive. It’s easy to think, I don’t need to put in that extra time practicing or working out. I am good enough.
The fact is that good enough sucks.
When I started playing against better competition and people from larger schools that reality hit me hard. Not only were some of the great athletes bigger and stronger than I was, but they also seemed to work harder and wanted it more. It’s one thing when someone has more natural talent, but to let someone outwork me was down right embarrassing.
As I moved on to the business world after college I found the same concept to be true. I started as an insurance agent in 2000 at 22 years old. It didn’t take long to realize that being a successful insurance agent takes much more than just showing up at 8am (at 22 that was a major accomplishment) and making a few phone calls.
At 22, I didn’t have the knowledge or experience of well established, successful agents that were my competition. Many of those early years were difficult and there were times in the first few years that I thought about quitting. I kept plugging away and tried to learn as much as I could through classes and from other agents in my office.
At 26, I started with Clemens & Associates. I was confident that I wanted to stay in the insurance business and made a commitment to myself that although I was still young, I would not let any other agent outwork me.
I have attended numerous educational seminars, achieved my CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor Designation) in 2005, and have been involved in numerous groups such as the local Chamber of Commerce, BNI, Toastmasters, Kiwanis, etc. I have also been able to start achieving some small levels of success. I don’t say this to brag or puff myself up as still have a long, long way to go to accomplish all of my goals.
I point this out mainly because with some success can come complacency. Just like when I thought I was the big kid on the block back in high school, it’s easy to feel that you can take a breath and relax after some “wins”. I have had days or even weeks after landing a nice account that I have felt tempted to think I could let off the gas. Just when you think you have it all figured out a competitor is waiting to pounce.
The reality is that there is always somebody out there that is ready to take your spot.
I don’t ever want to become complacent. It almost seems like dirty word to me. The business world is constantly evolving and it’s up to me to continue to evolve with it. At 33, I have already learned a tremendous amount about the insurance business and building relationships, but I have only hit the tip of the iceberg. The learning process and hard work never stops. I plan on smashing through the iceberg without sinking.
I think Jim Collins summed it up best in his book “Good to Great” when he wrote, “Good is the enemy of great.”