These past few weeks have been some of the most challenging of my career. And interestingly enough, my challenges were not directly related to insurance.
Instead, my challenges centered around technology. Ah yes, technology. A term that really means “tools meant to help you, but instead will make you want to take your computer and throw it from the top of a very tall building.”
I have been sorely tested. I have yelled. I have cried. I have beat my hands on my desk.
Basically, I gave my comfort zone a beating worthy of a barroom brawl. But now that I’ve had time to reflect, I realize that some good has actually come out of all the bad.
Maybe you’re struggling too. If that’s the case, I hope my words help you. And if you’re not struggling now, you will in the future. That’s just life. Tuck these words away for those times.
Practice really does make perfect
I had been tossing around the idea of doing an audio version of my blog posts for a while. My colleagues and friends Ryan Hanley and Brent Kelly had just started doing this with their blogs, and peer pressure is always a good motivator. Thanks guys 😉
Ryan gave me tips and pointed me to the program he was using- Soundcloud. He told me it was pretty easy to set up and use. Set up was pretty easy. The using part- well, that’s where my story begins…….
I’m pretty savvy when it comes to computers, but I’ve had few occasions where I needed to record anything, especially my voice.
So, I was happy as a clam when I opened the program and finally found a screen that gave me a big fat “REC” button. I thought, “Sweet, I can hit this and just start talking into the microphone.” So I did.
I played it back.
It didn’t record.
*insert profanity here*
Now, perhaps it was a setting that I screwed up- hard to say. But all I knew is that I had done two takes and zippo. What a waste of my time. Or was it?
So I figured out how to record an audio file on its own and upload to the program. A first for me. And it worked.
Lessons learned? My first take wasn’t all that great. Stumbling, nerves, etc. My second take- a little bit better. By the third time and the actual recording? Much, much more polished and confident.
So those first two takes weren’t “wasted” after all. I needed the practice to get a solid recording worthy of being shared.
ANY change is hard- so cut yourself some slack
My agency, Alan Galvez Insurance, has been in business 25 years. For 25 years, we’ve used paper files and a manual system of tracking policy transactions. I’ve been there for 17 years and I realized recently that to get to the next level of efficiency and growth, we needed to get an agency management system and move toward a more automated and “less paper” environment. Notice I didn’t say “paperless.” I’m a realist- you’ll always have paper somewhere- the hope is that it gets scanned into the system eventually.
So I finally took the plunge- I called a vendor I had been “courting” and who was being used by other agencies I respected. After many calls, it went live last week.
Childbirth was less painful. Hell, I’m thinking a colonoscopy without anesthetic would be a dream.
My comfort zone exploded like a 4th of July fireworks display. My learning curve went into the toilet. Oh my God, I was suddenly stupid. As the IT person is discussing some of the more technical stuff with me, I’m thinking:
Who the hell is IVAN? And what does he want with my data?
And what do you mean specify the path? Does that mean like a sidewalk or are we talking nature trail?
How do you upload the downloads? And why? Won’t they cancel each other out?
Yes- these were my actual questions.
But I put on my brave face and jumped right in. I contacted my carriers to get the downloads set up. I contacted our vendor to figure out how to deal with the downloads once they came into the system. In essence, I fumbled around. I cussed, hollered and beat my head on the wall. But I did it.
Side note- I took the introductory training AFTER I had gotten the downloads set up. My advice? Before you make any major change, take the training before. Makes life much easier. But, hey that’s how I roll- jump in with both feet 😉
Remember that- whether you’re writing, playing in a band, or learning something new, you have to get through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff. There isn’t a shortcut, no matter how much we want it. And believe me, we all want that shortcut, get rick quick, overnight sensation, type of thing. But you have to do the grind before you get to the gold (yes- you can quote me on that).
When did you last step out of your comfort zone? What did you do? How did you feel?