When you have pain pulsating with every beat of your heart, not much else matters.
Indeed, few things are as clarifying as a throbbing toothache. But it could be any kind of pain. We’ve all experienced some degree of it: back, foot, tooth. When pain moves in, it pushes everything out, like a big, bawling baby attached to your nervous system. The only thought allowed in your brain at that moment is: Please, I will give anything I own or ever will own to make this go away, please, God, oh, please.
In those moments, life is not about the things you do or the things you need to get done. It isn’t about friends and relatives. It isn’t about deciding whether to buy an Android or an iPhone. It isn’t about saving the planet. It is all about you and the pain. That is your world now.
Some people reading this have gone down pain’s darkest corridors. I have seen family members suffer the worst of what cancer can bring as I sat helplessly with my hand over my mouth. But even so, I can’t even come close to understanding how a parent gets through something like that. What words can you possibly say when your child looks at you as the protector who is supposed to make the pain go away?
The next time you tangle with serious pain, hold on to the experience. Keep it nearby like gold. It will reveal insight into everyone you meet.
When you are at the grocery store and see a frowning, elderly person walking gingerly, you’ll understand that he is not just a cranky old guy. He’s a man in constant pain, afraid he might fall down in public and not be able to get back up. His look that appears to be contemptuous might be a simple attempt to assess whether you are kind or whether you are just another jerk in a hurry.
When you are in a meeting and a colleague keeps interrupting and snapping at you, realize she is someone feeling as if you don’t respect and value her. Here is someone devoting most of her waking hours to this current endeavor and there you are implicitly treating that commitment cheaply. That is not a throbbing tooth but it’s a clarifying pain just the same.
When you deal with prospects or clients who have clammed up during an insurance sales process, you’ll know that it is not because they have lost interest. It’s because you have entered sensitive territory.
Find the pain. That’s what salespeople are taught. OK, so you have made a devoted dad frightened for the future of his wife and daughter. This is not just a sales tool. This should not say “cha-ching!” in your brain.
This is a moment for solemn reverence. Here is where you were meant to be when you woke up that morning. Here is where you make a difference in a family’s future. Here is where you earn your commission as gratitude, not as a reward.
In this month’s issue, we look out at the horizon of 2014 and find plenty to worry about. Interest rates, regulation, technology, competition – even your own carrier eyeing your lunch. But the analysts we interviewed all had a similar conclusion: Get back to why you do what you do.
I suspect you are not in this business just to sell product. Sure, you might know plenty of people who are laser-focused on getting better numbers, but that is probably not you. People like that don’t bother reading things like this. They only want to know how to rack up the sale.
So, it’s just you and me here. Let me tell you something about December. It doesn’t matter if you are religious or not, there is something holy about this month. When the night is longest is when we want to have our special people closest. When we are around the fire huddled with others for warmth and protection from the dark and cold is when we have clarity. This is what it’s all about.
This is another thing to keep close by and something else that will pulsate with every beat of your heart.
Steven A. Morelli