Have you ever been afraid? Have you ever doubted yourself? I'm in the final stages of a book manuscript that covers a time in my life where I was very afraid and I doubted myself very much. I sure didn't do everything right, but I did a few things right. Below is an excerpt from my book manuscript. This is one thing I did right. I was bold and punched my fear in the face. I hope this is inspiring to you today.
From my upcoming, yet untitled, book:
Making a difference in the world is fairly broad job description. That was going to take some focus. Like I’ve said before, one of the best ways to decide who you are is to decide who you are not. It’s process of elimination and it takes effort, risk and some time. As Summer turned to Fall in 2012, I was mowing less grass and picking up more leaves. It’s the nature of the landscaping business. As I spent those countless hours with a leaf blower strapped to my back and earplugs in my ears, it was just God and me for most of the day. I knew I wasn’t to quit on life. I knew God had a purpose for me to make a difference as a coaching leader. But how would God accomplish that work through me? I was still very unclear on that. There were a couple fundamental questions I needed to answer. The first was, which arena would I be making this difference in? The previous 18 years of my life had all centered around church ministry. My only real career had been church ministry. But, just months out of the biggest ministry disaster and personal pain I had ever endured, did I want to dive back into ministry? This was a real question I had to explore. I prayed about that often. I talked with Sara about it often. I confided in her that sometimes I wondered if church leaders were second-rate leaders who couldn’t really make it in the business world. Maybe those guys were the real rock stars. I just didn’t know, but I was curious enough to venture into the business world, just a little.
I saw a listing for openings for Farmers Insurance. Of course, there are always openings like these. It’s the business model for some insurance companies. They interview as many people as they can, tell them all they can have their own business, train them and set them up as agents, all the while, knowing that 90% plus will fail. But, the 10% who stick will make the company and themselves some good money. I guess it’s a good business plan, except for the 90% who feel like failures on the back end. I guess that’s a different story for a different time.
So, with the understanding of what I was interviewing for, I took an opportunity to be bold. I showed up for my interview at a small mid-town office with a District manager named Kirk. He was a good guy and I could tell he had been, himself, a successful agent. He started with the normal spiel about how successful I could be and how I was “just the kind of person they were looking for.” When he asked me for my thoughts I told him I was not at all the kind of person they were looking for, but I was the kind of person they needed. He was a bit taken aback but seemed intrigued enough to not ask me to immediately leave. He asked me to elaborate. I proceeded to tell him that I hated sales. I would never be good at it because I didn’t want to be good at it. If the only job openings they had was for more people to sell more insurance, our conversation was over. He was still listening so I went on to tell him that what I could bring to his team was almost 20 years of leadership experience and an understanding and passion for a coaching style of leadership. “Imagine how much more insurance your agents could sell if they had a coach who could help them be their best.”, I said. He put his hand up, much like Simon Cowell does when he's heard enough of an awful American Idol audition. I stopped my pitch. “It’s very interesting that you would show up here today with this coaching thing in mind. It just so happens that Farmers has a program just like that set to launch in a couple test markets very soon.”
As it turned out, Farmers Insurance also suspected their agents could perform better if they were being coached. Kirk told me that he would really like to hire me, but his district, unfortunately, was not one of the test markets, but he had a friend who was over the East Tulsa district and that was one of the test markets. He made a call to his friend, Cory, about this strange guy who showed up for a sales interview squawking about coaching. I left there without a job offer, but I did have another interview scheduled and this time it was for a job I could actually see myself doing. But much more importantly, I left that day with a new confidence in myself. I was more than just a church leader. I held my own with these business guys just fine. It was a liberating and invigorating feeling.
Here's what you need to notice. Don't miss this or you miss it all. That liberation and invigoration came only after I faced my fear and walked it down. I pray that this will inspire you to walk your fears down. Imagine who you can become on the other side of fear . . .