I learned Xactimate during my first hurricane deployment. Along with a stack of 25 claims, my new Storm Manager handed me a disc that said Xactimate and said “here; you’ll need this”. I shrugged it off – how hard could it be? Well, as it turns out, really hard! It took me about a solid week to write and turn in my first claim. I learned Xactimate by myself, in my hotel room, on the fly. I don’t recommend that. In fact, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy! It was hell.
After a couple of months, I got pretty good at Xactimate and was able to crank out a few claims per day. One day I was working on a particularly complex house with a complex ceiling. Wanting it to be just right and wanting to make a good impression with this high-profile claim, I went to extra lengths to recreate the ceiling in extreme detail. And I was very proud of what I was able to accomplish given the limitations of Xactimate 2002 at the time. After I had completed building it, it was time to apply drywall, paint, etc. While putting the drywall over a section of the tray-type living room ceiling, Xactimate crashed. I didn’t think much of it at first; Xactimate crashed regularly back then.
But when I reopened Xactimate, the estimate I was working on and everything below it in the alphabet had been destroyed. First, I freaked. I tried reopening it several times. Then I called Xactimate support. They couldn’t help. I tried Microsoft support next. Their recommendations didn’t work. My storm manager couldn’t help. In short, nothing worked. Literally days of work had been destroyed, and every single person I talked to reminded me that I was supposed to be backing up my important data (advice that I had ignored). After the freakout, I moved into denial. I just couldn’t believe that I had lost all that work, and I just didn’t have the heart to start all over from scratch. Then came depression. How did I handle that? I went to the store, bought some ice cream, and spent the day in my hotel room moping and feeling sorry for myself! But after the first few bites, the ice cream didn’t taste too good. There was nothing worth watching on TV. My plan wasn’t working. I knew I had to get back on the horse and there was no relief to be had until I did.
Finally, the next day I came to my senses. I took out my scope notes from that big, fancy house and opened a new project in Xactimate. After about a half hour, I was on fire, cranking through it. A few hours later I was done, and on to fixing the other estimates that I lost. It felt great. In the big scheme of things, it was barely a blip. I did a massive number of claims in that storm, helped a ton of people, and made very good money. But I never forgot that whole experience; the shock, the discouragement, conquering the discouragement, getting back on the horse, feeling great and doing very well in that storm. I lost a small battle, but I won the war.
This experience exemplified two different and opposed reactions to adversity that are at my disposal; quit or get back on the horse. I quit for that first day, and it felt bad. I got back on the horse the second day, and it felt great. Every single day, to some degree or other, I get to choose my reaction to adversity. In fact, I’ve chosen this topic to blog about today precisely because I’m working through a difficult situation. I’m bruised, but I’m dusting myself off and I’m getting back on the horse. And there’s really no other choice, is there? Not if you want a happy marriage, good health, physical fitness or a successful career as a CAT adjuster.
How one deals with adversity is one of the big differences between successful adjusters and ‘dabblers.’ Successful adjusters see adversity as inevitable; it’s in the very nature of the career! But they don’t let that adversity overcome them. They are bigger than their problems. Dabblers, on the other hand, don’t want problems. They seek to avoid them at all costs (problematic in a career as a CAT adjuster), and when tough times come along, dabblers are easily defeated. They are smaller than their problems. My first storm manager’s words still ring in my ears; “Adam, I’ve never fired an adjuster, but I’ve seen lots of adjusters fire themselves!” He meant that the CAT Adjusting is not easy, especially in the beginning, and so a large percentage of folks throw in the towel. Usually, they just drive away from the storm with their tail between their legs, never to be heard from again. Those that have guts at least turn in their claims before they drive home. Ultimately though, too many new adjusters can’t take the pressure, and they quit.
The good news – proved by my experience with the lost Xactimate data – is that we can choose our reaction to adversity, even if we’ve chosen to quit in the past. In fact, my petty little Xactimate loss is insignificant in comparison to the great adversity that I’ve seen others overcome. I hear from adjusters that I’ve trained on a daily basis. We’ve had pretty wild weather so far this season, and many of them are buried in claims, and I know what they’re facing. To everyone I just want to say “you can do it! You are bigger than all of the things coming at you right now! Persevere; it’s worth it.” This is a great career, and it just gets better with time.
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