A Bump in My Career Path- Dear Millennials
It’s time I admit something: My Career path hit a bump in the road once before. (Ahh that is a huge monkey off my back!) I was young- 28, I think. I was asked to do a job I loved. In my mind I did it very well.
I remember being a kid in a middle management roll in a complicated industry. Those were hard days. I remember when I got my first “real” job at 24. On the very first day, a gentleman 20 years my senior was hired to do the same job but in a different state asked me how old I was; I told him (24), and he replied, “GGGGHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOODDDDDDDD! You are just a kid!” (To this day he is still a great friend and the decade that followed that conversation, I kept my age to myself.)
But this is a story about a time I thought my career was spiraling down instead of up (At 28) because of a little stumble and what I learned. Up until then I was invincible. I was in a great middle management roll, I had been promoted, and transferred across the country. I was managing company reps and the companies second largest state. I was on my way up the ladder.
Despite achieving great results and hitting goals for years with my team in the face of odds the size of Texas, I must have stumbled a bit in my career. It could have been the attention I gave my family, specifically my new born son who came to us with some significant health problems. I could have blamed it on the organization that I worked for or those I reported to (that always seemed like the immature thing to do). I could have blamed it on the company decision to replace one HUGE line of business with an insignificant line of business that created a HUGE shed of Written Premium in a short time. I could have pointed to a number of factors and placed the blamed elsewhere.
Looking back at that Kid (that was born right on the cusp of being a Millennial) What did he learn?
- First of all, his Career was anything but over.
- Stumbling is part of every career
- Everyone needs to learn how to be coachable. (No one scores 9-10’s on every competency- That should not be painful to hear from your Leaders……. Average Players want to be left alone, Good Players want to be coached. Great Players want to be told the truth. – Doc Rivers
- There is always room for professional growth
- Pride gets you nowhere and can destroy your soul
- Sometimes it is best to put your head down, shut up, work hard, and plan your next move in silence
- Careers must be Managed carefully, not reactionally
So what became of the stumble? I took what I learned prior to my stumble, shut my mouth, and worked hard. A year later, the same company where I stumbled, recognized me at the National convention for my accomplishments. Something was said to the effect of, ‘You are doing things we did not think possible. You are changing our perception of what is possible for this role.’
People asked me to comment about my stumble, and I shut my young mouth and got to work. I took my time and planned my next move. Once I made my next intentional move, people asked me to comment, and I shut my mouth, I learned, and I worked. I took my time and planned my next move. Today I am exactly where I want to be after significant and careful Career Management.
(Please note: The cycle does not end when you get to where you want to be, quite the contrary- When I became a Senior leader At Premier Group Insurance- a top 100 Insurance agency in America, I had much more to learn than I ever had, I work much harder than I ever have. Even when you are where you want to be: often success is putting your head down and working really hard until you see results- no matter what level you are at.)
The moral of the story: Be coachable. Learn, work hard, and always plan your next move (Career Management). Know that every career has a moment where you will stumble and know that is not the end of your professional story. Mange that stumble well, learn from it- instead of being destroyed by it, and use it to grow.
Shawn M. Walker