By Insurance Agency Optimization Co-founder and Head Trainer, Scott Grates
Cheers to all of my fellow December 1st Agency anniversaries out there! I began this journey in 2009 as external new market. The past 13 years have taught me this: on day one, we are handed a 5,000-piece puzzle to work on.
What we don’t know at the time is that there are only 4,717 pieces in the box.
When you first started your puzzle, I bet you searched for all of the edge pieces. You did this so you could set the edge. The edges are your foundation, everything after that is possible because the edge is in place. It takes hours to search, find and assemble the edge pieces. It is tedious and frustrating but you stick with it, and you fight through it. You are learning to enjoy the process.
Perfection is a unicorn and mastery is a myth; to search for either is futile. In fact, even the act of focusing on production results is a broken concept. The secret to success in this industry is falling in love with the process.
Master the mundane. Become brilliant at the basics. Create a strong foundation to build upon.
Assembling the inside of a 5,000-piece puzzle presents an extremely daunting task. It’s a big goal, and completion of it in today’s limited time is impossible. Knowing this, you break it down into smaller, more manageable segments. Perhaps you begin to search for the pieces which become the tree with orange leaves. Your singular focus for the next block of time is to search only for the orange pieces. Each time you find an orange piece, you receive a shot of dopamine and experience a win. Now that the orange pieces are grouped, you form a strategy while studying the answer key–the picture on the box. One piece at a time you begin assembling that orange tree.
Master the mundane. Break big goals into small pieces. Hunt and, strategize. Celebrate small wins.
You assembled the orange tree in its entirety! Now, it’s on to the red tree. Same process.
Now the yellow tree. Same process. Then, the green tree. The same process.
Four trees are assembled. You’re feeling good. More dopamine.
Master the mundane. Become brilliant at the basics. Hunt, and strategize. Celebrate small wins. Trust and repeat the process over, and over, and over again.
Now for the bridge over the stream between the trees. There are numerous colors and various shades of the same color in this section. The challenge becomes more difficult. Your search yields fewer potential pieces. You know you have some pieces in the group which don’t belong there. You grow frustrated, and tired. You want to quit but instead, you take a break and walk away. It’s time to think about something else, or nothing at all.
That bridge over the stream taunts you while you’re away, so you return to it sooner than you should.
Quick rest followed by similar results, and frustration levels are now at all-time highs.
Into the room walks a friend. “Hey!,” you yell with excitement. “Can you help me with this?” The friend agrees. A new set of eyes, a different strategy, and difficult work, but progress is being made on that bridge over the stream.
Master the mundane. Become brilliant at the basics. Hunt, and strategize. Celebrate small wins. Trust and repeat the process. Walk away when you need a break. Have the courage to ask for help.
The bridge over the stream is eighty percent complete and that’s good enough for now. Time to work on the kids sitting on a blanket eating lunch. Before long, you realize this section of the puzzle is more difficult than that darned bridge! You reach sixty percent completion and you move on to the deer in the meadow. Days or weeks later, you discover a few more bridge pieces, and now that section is 85 percent complete.
There are some moments you want to jump for joy when the right pieces fit together. There are other moments when you want to flip the table and set it all on fire. But through it all, you are making progress. Even if it’s just one piece for that entire day, that puzzle has improved from yesterday.
You eventually learn that the box only had 4,717 puzzle pieces. You’ll never see that entire puzzle 100 percent completed. You’ll never realize perfection. When you fall in love with the process and celebrate that one next piece, that’s when the challenge becomes fun, and the work is fulfilling.
Nobody was handed all 5,000 pieces in their box. Nobody has this puzzle all figured out all of the time—regardless of the false perceptions you may have, we are all a few pieces short somewhere.
As I celebrate my 13th year as an Agent, I have the following advice.
Master the mundane.
Become brilliant at the basics.
Hunt, and strategize.
Celebrate small wins.
Trust and repeat the process.
Walk away when you need a break.
Have the courage to ask for help.
You don’t need all of the pieces to be successful. 100% of everything you have today is all you need.
Now, get back to that bridge over the stream.