I’ve been struggling my way toward a Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation for like…3 years now. It feels like 478396498324632 years, but I guess it really only has been 3.
For most anyone, those words are accompanied with a “huh,” or a “what’s that?” They mean virtually nothing to people outside my working profession, but to people inside my profession, it holds a level of esteem as only around 2% of industry professionals hold a CPCU designation.
Only 2% hold it because it’s kind of a giant PITA (pain in the a$$).
When I say struggling my way through it, I mean literally struggling. Struggling to find time to do it all outside of work. Struggling to find energy. Struggling to care. Struggling to pass. Struggling to pretend I don’t care that I didn’t pass. I am driving the CPCU struggle bus, there’s just no other way to put it.
I passed my 6th test a few weeks ago. Passing is usually accompanied by a feeling that I can accomplish another one and then it is quickly followed with a reminder that I am a mom who works 40 hours a week and drives 30-45 minutes to work one way and I like to keep a clean house and cook dinner and go to bed at 8:30pm. It’s a good reminder that I don’t actually know where I am going to fit these things in.
But, somehow I manage. I manage because it is important to me no matter how much I am going to downplay it when I actually do hit the finish line. No matter how many other people have it. It matters to me in a way that I can’t explain and for reasons that probably don’t make a lot of sense.
I recently watched a Ted Talk called “Grit” and in it, Angela Lee Duckworth, an esteemed professional, talks about what makes people successful. As it would turn out, IQ and raw talent have nothing to do with success. Successful people are gritty people. I found myself in that Ted Talk, finally understanding a little bit about why I am (in my own opinion) successful. I am a gritty person.
I don’t have raw talent. I’ve never been particularly good at anything. I sucked at playing the Cello. I was even worse at the Violin. I might be considered athletic, but my short little 5’3” frame is hardly considered an athletic talent. Still, I played varsity softball and I played the Cello clear through high school.
It wasn’t talent that kept me going. It certainly wasn’t people showing up to my games to tell me how good I was (lol that never happened, I was NOT good). It was grit. It was tenacity. I didn’t want to sit on my hands and be told I couldn’t do something. I operated under the fall down seven times, get up eight philosophy.
I knew I couldn’t be the only kid in my high school program (IB, highly, highly recommend) that struggled to figure out how she was going to college. I knew I didn’t want to be the one that people whispered about that ended up not going after showing promise all through her academic career. I busted my butt in a Barnes and Noble for days on end typing up essay after essay to win a scholarship. I won. That’s grit. It was scary. It was risky. It paid off.
I am a gritty person.
Getting my CPCU has reminded me that there are going to be a plethora of failures before you reach success, and that’s absolutely okay. Where I might’ve found these failures earthshattering 10 years ago, I don’t anymore. I am not afraid of them. I tackle them head on understanding that at least if I fail, I moved forward. I can pick myself back up, apply what I’ve learned, brush off my knees and try again.
As an adult, it has taught me so many lessons about who I think I am, what I think I know and how terrible a studier I am these days. These things are taught in the material, they’re taught in how I manage it (and frankly, I could do a better job).
Reminding myself to focus on the long-term goals and not sweat the short term failures has been a major push for me. I am not going to run out of steam because I am a gritty person. I may not be able to sprint very fast, but I have the endurance of marathoner when it comes to my life goals and I recognize the long term payoff that propels me forward. Every. Single. Day.