Perhaps you heard about Baby Steps, when author Dr. Leo Marvin was interviewed by Good Morning America at his vacation home in Lake Winnipesaukee, New Hampshire back in 1991. It was heralded for its ability to help readers confront their fears by providing them with a guide to living life one step at a time. While it's pricier than many modern books, for the value it reveals, I can assure you that it's a steal at $29.95. Some interesting stories unraveled following the book's release which will be of encouragement to all growth-minded professionals and insurance claim estimators heading into 2021. 

We survived 2020, but how will we fare as we chart the unknown territory that is this year to come? According to Marvin, “Taking a ‘baby steps’ approach to life's obstacles can be incredibly important, not only for those of us who suffer deep psychological trauma, but for the rest of us struggling to cope with life's little mishaps.”

Whether you are tackling your New Year’s resolutions or working to dig yourself out of some of the holes from the prior year, taking one step at a time, taking baby steps, can help you to make progress along the way. 

Developing the Right Habits for Professional Growth 

Last year I published my first book, Be Intentional: Estimating, in an attempt to help professionals in my industry with developing the right mindset and habits for success with estimating property insurance claims. I had to take baby steps to work through the writing process. I stepped out of the office and into the elevator and have been encouraged by the positive initial feedback from readers. I hope the principles that I composed will help others to take baby steps towards growing their careers, elevating their estimating habits, and helping their teams to thrive in their daily tasks.

I am certain that I will not achieve the widespread appeal of the distinguished Dr. Marvin, but I am glad that my book is making an impact. As Mark Whatley says in his review,  “It is not the most refined publication I have ever consumed. It won’t make you worse at your job and it will likely create space for you to enjoy your career just a little bit more.” Baby Steps shows us that a small step in the right direction is the beginning of the journey. If I can help a few growth minded professionals sail, with a bit more confidence, into their estimating future, the juice will have been worth the squeeze.  

Principles from Baby Steps Applicable to Professional Growth:

  • It’s important to have a long-term vision but equally as important are the next steps that you take. Set yourself up for success by taking baby steps towards your goals.
  • This next one actually comes from Bob Wiley, a Baby Steps student. When you hit a wall sometimes the best thing you can do is to take a vacation from your problems. Get away from the office, turn your phone off, and do something that will help you to reset so that you can approach your challenges with a fresh perspective (as our friend Idan Shpizear calls it).
  • Dr. Marvin says the best psychiatrist is the one inside of you and that his job is to help you bring that out. While it is good to get input from others, ultimately your vision is exactly that-your vision. No one else is going to sail or drown from the risks that you take. Develop yourself, lead by example, and build your team with people that will enhance the vision.

Developing the right Professional Growth 

Putting pen to paper as an author is a laborious process. When those words become the fuel for renewing mindsets, a fire is sparked that can burn away the chaff of prior limiting habits. Bob Wiley, perhaps one of Dr. Marvin’s most famous patients, who became an author himself, encouraged the good doctor early on, “Your book is going to do a lot of good for a lot of people, I am walking proof of that.” We know that a book is tested and its principles are proven by its ability to assist the reader in affecting change in the real world. Restoration technician, Tiffany Acuff, believes that Be Intentional: Estimating, “Not only teaches the importance of estimating, but also how to make a restoration business run as smoothly as possible.”

Even though Bob publicly praised Baby Steps, and arguably carried the now infamous Good Morning America interview, my sources tell me that Leo was not fond of Bob. Mr. Wiley declared, “It’s not just this book, it’s this man. It’s the compassion. It’s the dignity, the wisdom. It’s the horse sense of the guy that gets you.” Apparently Dr. Marvin perceived Bob to be annoying, intrusive, and hiding a darker self behind his positive public persona. My book also has its share of horse sense as well as what Randy Crawley calls “Somewhat witty humor and plenty of 90’s kid references.” The baby steps in Be Intentional: Estimating include the challenge for members of the property restoration industry to take ownership of their obstacles and to be intentional in developing their processes. 

Principles from Be Intentional: Estimating Applicable to Professional Growth:

  • Stop playing the blame game. The biggest threats to your professional development are internal rather than external. Take ownership for your challenges, as well as your setbacks, and enjoy the journey of achieving your goals.
  • Mindset is everything. What you believe will affect what you do, and that in turn will affect how others are able to assist you with your process. Invest in those inputs which help you to expand your ideas of what is possible.  
  • Your habits are critical. When something is not working, do your due diligence to figure out what the root causes are so that you can adapt your approaches and achieve progress in your goals. Mindset and habits go hand-in-hand, be intentional in shaping both if you want to maximize your growth.  

Taking Baby Steps Towards your Professional Growth  

Dr. Marvin claims that Baby Steps helps its readers to help themselves. He asserts that "The best psychiatrist in the world is the one inside of you. My job is to find him and bring him out." While his relationship with his unique patient drives him to a short term break with reality, Bob thrives. Mr. Wiley credits Leo with helping him transform his mindset and habits, leading him to return to school, become a psychologist, and write his own “huge” bestseller Death Therapy. As creators, we don’t have control of how our work impacts others.  

Start 2021 by taking the baby steps needed in order to sail through your fears and feel the winds of progress. Focus on the office you are in, walk through the door and into the hallway of opportunity. What is your elevator (fear)? Let, “Baby steps into the elevator,” be your mantra. You will find that if you can celebrate the progress of others, you may avoid some of the mental setbacks and frustrations that Dr. Marvin experienced. As I discuss in my book, there are Three R’s that restoration professionals, especially estimators, must continually learn from - rejection, repetition, and relationships. Whatever you do, be intentional. 

Sidenote: While I would love for you to buy my book because you think it will bring value to yourself and/or your team, you may also be tempted to purchase Dr. Marvin’s book after I have brought this classic back onto your radar. Some data may help you decide between the two products if you are unable to purchase them both. According to Good Reads, Baby Steps has 4.08 stars with 26 ratings and 9 reviews. According to Amazon, Be Intentional: Estimating has a 5.0 stars with 13 ratings and 9 reviews.