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a blog by Chris Barrow


It was 1986 and after 16-years in financial services and a 5-year career with Hambro Life Assurance I had been promoted to my own level of incompetence – as sales manager of their Manchester direct sales branch – responsible (at the age of 33) for a 35-strong team of self-employed, commission-only insurance and pension sales people.

The “team” (if you could call it that – every man for himself) had been forged by my immediate predecessor Doug Roberts (a legend in the city) and every inch of the place was impregnated with his unique style.

I was David Moyes, taking over from Sir Alex.

Everybody paid lip-service to this young upstart with a track record of success in a different division of the company – but nobody really took me seriously.

I lasted about 15-months in the job, before volunteering my own resignation and moving on to become a happier and more successful independent salesman, out of corporate politics and head office interference, away from the daily whining of 80% of the sales team (“nobody wants to buy life assurance and pensions any more”) and the diva-like demands of the top 20%.

During those 15 months I drove every morning from my apartment in West Didsbury to the Hambro direct sales offices, a red-brick 70’s office block in Old Trafford.

The tower block was about 20 stories high and I could see the place from miles way as I sat in rush hour traffic on my way across town.

Every damn morning, the sight of the building made my heart sink.

Another day in that building, another exhausting routine of trying to keep everyone happy and pull knives out of my back.

Passion for the job – zero.

The money was brilliant, the prestige enormous, the company car an ego trip.

I was as miserable as a 33-year old could be – wondering what the hell i was doing with my life and gradually building anger and resentment at the people around me.

Its not the only time I’ve been miserable at work – there have actually been quite a few.

However stupid or short-sighted I may have been at getting myself into those situations – I’ll claim some credit – that I’m world-class at getting myself out.

Tom Peters has encouraged us to “fail fast” in business and in life and I’m going to claim a gold medal in that and encourage you to do the same.

Life really is too short to tolerate any situation, thing or relationship that sucks the passion out of you and makes your day a tedium.

No matter how much money is on the table, no matter what the risks, no matter how people gossip about you – fail fast and move on.

The next place has the possibility virus – it can rekindle your passion – and then you will become wonderful to be around again.

I love what I do right now, I’m passionate about the company, the people and the work – the hours and the travel are effortless and stress-free, it is a joy to be tired at the end of the day.

If you are reading this and don’t like what you do for a living – move on.

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