Back in 2012 I took a big career swing for the fences. I gave up my comfortable role as an underwriter and talked my way into a role in a finance leadership development program at headquarters. The program was mostly designed to attract recent MBA graduates from some of the top ranked programs in the country and convince them to come work in insurance. I was only the fourth internal candidate ever accepted into the program and the only one without a finance degree. I was thrilled to relocate to headquarters and the move got me a sweet 43% raise!
Then the worst happened. I failed. I just couldn’t hack it in the finance side of the company. While I was a passionate and highly educated insurance professional, I just wasn’t a finance guy. I tried hard and simply didn’t make it. It hurt a lot, and it was scary. It felt like I had blown the best career opportunity I had ever had.
But I also learned a lot. I learned a lot about insurance, about finance, and about strategy. I learned a lot about how insurance companies are really ran. Being at headquarters and the visibility of the program allowed me to network with some amazing people and get to know many of the executives that run the company. Maybe most importantly I learned about myself. I learned that I’m not a finance guy. I learned that if a job is heavily analytical, it’s not for me. Not only will I be average at best, but most important I won’t be happy doing it! I learned exactly which types of jobs never to pursue. I also realized that my love of insurance is truly about insurance, I want to be close to where the action happens. It helped me clarify that my future in the industry was in sales management, underwriting or recruiting. Also the real feedback I got going through this grueling program truly helped me grow as a person and understand how I came across and how to change that for the better.
There is nothing wrong with failing, not trying is much worse. If you don’t try you’re not going to succeed. As long as you learn from the experience, you really can’t lose! After all, if you never fail, you’re not challenging yourself enough. I’ll be writing more articles about failure and how it leads to growth in the next few weeks, but I wanted to start with my own personal story. My career wouldn’t be where it is today, had it not been for that experience.
Ultimately, while it was scary I ended up landing in a job much better suited to my personality and skills in the sales management side of the company, and it would’ve probably taken me five years longer had I not taken the big shot!
This article has not yet gone through our editing process, so any typos or spelling mistakes are Tony’s fault. Carly will delete this disclaimer once she edits it.