I have come to embrace, appreciate, and even love the thing I once hated most about my personal journey.
It is an uncomfortable word and a difficult way to live. It is easy to look at the well-ordered, seeming predictable path others travel with envy. Those people who seem to know exactly who they are and do whatever it is they do day in and day out, year after year.
Nevermind that each of us is obliged to live with a certain level of uncertainty. None of us knows what a day may bring. Still, some fortunate souls seem to execute their plan better than the rest of us.
Also, it isn’t me. I thought it was once…a long time ago. I found out I was wrong.
Yeah, I don’t really know what chapter to call it, ok? I mean some are chapters and others are subchapters. Too confusing.
This chapter, whichever number we give it, began near the end of 2014. Or was it 2013? Let me think.
Yes. It was October 2014.
Katrina hit in August 2005 and represents a previous chapter for me, one that changed the course of my journey and thousands of others. I was unexpectedly impacted as I was introduced to the life of the catastrophe adjuster. It was a hard but rewarding life. For the next ten years, I would spend large chunks of time – sometimes weeks, sometimes months, once it was a year and a half – away from home. I was a road warrior, going wherever the weather took me, whether I wanted to or not. Catastrophe struck and duty called. Away I went, chasing the wind, chasing the storms, chasing the elusive dollar.
During this time, I met a man who would become a friend like a brother. Keith Craft. He is an Alabama boy with a big personality, a sharp wit, and a true heart. Keith introduced me to a group of his friends and family who were lifers in the CAT business. Among them, Zack Meadows and Stacy Story. Zack and Stacy, fast friends and business partners, were in the process of acquiring an established CAT company, Mid-America Catastrophe Services.
These were my kind of people. Solid as a rock. True as a sunrise. I knew I wanted to be a part of what they were building and where they were going. They invited me to keynote at their first-ever conference in San Antonio. I did. It was the start of something beautiful, I thought.
The trouble was in the timing. They were building something new. I needed something financially secure and steady.
This was when my phone rang and my cousin Tommy told me about Progress Residential, a Real Estate Investment Trust looking for a superintendent in Dallas/Fort Worth. I interviewed and took the job, a chance to be home every night and make a steady but moderate income.That was, as we established a few paragraphs ago, October 2014.
I soon rose to Maintenance Manager for the market at Progress and that is where I stayed until…
A year later, a competitor (Tricon American Homes) in the same industry wooed me away, put me in a management position over all of their Texas markets, and increased my income considerably. I had finally arrived where I had been headed all these years.
At Tricon, I met men and women who would teach me more about business in a couple years than I had learned in the 20 years prior. They were building something special in terms of a company culture – a place with a purpose and a passion. I bought what they were selling and they bought what I was offering. It was a beautiful match that figured to be longterm.
At last, certainty.
Then Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, where Tricon had exposure. We owned more than 800 homes there. While I was helping Tricon assess the damage and navigate the storm, Mid-America was experiencing their largest-ever deployment to a storm.
I got a phone call from my friend Keith Craft.
Then Irma hit Florida. Keith called again. This time, Zack was on the call, too.
“It’s time, Gene. You ready to join Mid-America?”
I did not see this coming. It was a little disorienting, to be honest. But when I asked myself that same question, my answer was an emphatic yes. No doubt. I was set to turn the page to another chapter in the book of my personal journey.
Of Landing Places and Launching Pads
What I thought was my landing place was actually a launching pad. The two years spent at Tricon meant I was more prepared than ever to benefit a company on the rise. So much sweeter if that company should be owned and guided by people I love and believe in.
As I prepared to join my friends in their venture, I thought of the Old Testament story of Esther and Mordecai. The beautiful Esther was a young Jewess who was selected by the powerful Persian king Xerxes to be queen. That was fortunate since her people were under Persian rule. There was a wicked man named Haman plotting against Esther’s people, the Jews. Esther’s Uncle Mordecai encouraged her to solicit the king’s help with the deadly situation.
In his appeal to Esther, Mordecai used a phrase that has lived in perpetuity: “Who knows but what you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
Even Chaos has a design. It is just difficult (and often impossible) to see the pattern.
I do not believe in accidents or happenstance. I believe in purpose. I also believe that many times we do not know the “why” of our “whats” until we get where we are going. I believe it is important to flourish where you are planted – to grow, to learn, to contribute.
Where are you right now? Maybe this is your destination. Or, maybe it is only a part of your destiny. Either way, it matters. So make the most of it and keep your eyes and your heart open to the opportunity to answer the call for such a time as this.