I went to work this morning with character on my mind. Why? Because like most folks, mine is constantly challenged and tested and this past weekend was no exception. Not that anything terrible happened – just the normal struggles of trying to be a good husband and a good father to my daughters. Actually, the good news is that I’m reflecting on character before getting “caught” in the fallout of bad character decisions!
My thoughts this morning are fueled by the writings of Richard J. Foster in his most excellent book “Celebration of Discipline“. I’m seriously paraphrasing of course, but here’s the principle: one’s true colors always show through. This really jives with my experience (how about you?). Try as I might, if I’m ‘pretending’ to be virtuous or happy or peaceful or competent (or even spiritual!), it’s just a matter of time till I’m exposed as a fraud. This usually happens in unguarded moments – a slip of the tongue, body language, etc., but more often for me, it comes out at times of strong negative feelings. In other words, when I get angry or scared or sad or tempted, how I act at those times tends to show my true, deep character – the mask that I wear falls away.
Since this is a blog about adjusting, let’s bring this into the business world. I’m thoroughly convinced that if you want to make your adjusting career (or any career) a long and fruitful one, the fundamental key to success is character. Perhaps this goes against popular belief. Many I talk to believe that skills and knowledge will be the primary indicator of success. Why do I believe it boils down to character? For two reasons. The first is that my own personal success has increased proportionally to the improvement of my own inner character. The second is that I’ve trained literally thousands of people for their careers, in the adjusting industry, and some others. I see plenty of “flash in the pan” successes – both people who seem to have solid characters and those who at least on the outside seem to display a shaky character. But the folks with real, deep character develop deep, trusting relationships in this industry and the demand for their services increases every year till they can literally name their own terms and they get them because they are undisputedly worth it!
A great example of this principle at work are Umpires (the folks who are called in to settle disputes in appraisal – I’ll write more about this later). Many want to be Umpires, but few work regularly as Umpires. On the other hand, there are a few folks – at least here in S. Florida – that are booked solid and you have to wait weeks or even months to schedule with them. This is even more surprising when you find out that they bill in the neighborhood of $250/hr! Why do they get this privilege? Because they’ve developed a reputation for being fair, impartial, diligent, competent, etc. Folks out to make a crooked buck won’t last – it’s not long till the carrier side or the insured side sees through their mask of competence or impartiality and they’re unofficially blackballed. There’s backlash against their character.
Why does this principle that solid inner character prospers long-term work? I personally believe that the same Creator who made the universe made the rules of business too!
Let me close by saying that none of us are perfect and that struggles with character are part of life. I ask you to join me in the trusting in character as the foundation of our careers as adjusters and striving daily to improve character!