I came away from the Million Dollar Round Table annual meeting with many things. One is the knowledge that 7:30 a.m. is way too early to be subjected to an overamplified Elvis Presley impersonator.
Actually, no time of day prepares anyone for the sight and sound of a fat, sweaty Elvis on stage backed by a full band and projected onto a huge screen. They were good, and I was impressed with how anybody got a group of professional musicians up and amped that early in the morning, but, really, there is just not enough coffee in the world to be ready for that.
As I looked around, trying to connect my cognition to my experience, I saw thousands of people from all over the world smiling, laughing, taking pictures and, yes, dancing. I realized it was more than the “Hunka, Hunka Burnin’ Love” on stage that was driving them to their feet and pumping the air at 7-freakin’-30 in the a.m.
It was the same thing about Kim Harding spoke to me the day before. She has a New York Life practice and, with her husband, is developing two advisors in their business to become MDRT-eligible. The biggest hurdle for one of them is confidence. After all, it takes chutzpah to ask people to entrust their money and the future of their family to you, especially if you are a young advisor. We’ve all heard the voice that says, “Who are you to think you can do this? They will never take you seriously. You may as well stay home and eat chocolate ice cream.” (Ok, maybe we don’t all hear the ice cream part. Substitute with your own crutch. Although I have no idea why that wouldn’t be chocolate ice cream.)
Kim said she had made sure both of her advisors have the training they needed to serve their clients, so she asked that particular advisor if he believed he could help the prospect. The advisor replied, without question, he could help the prospect. “Well, then, if you don’t help that person, someone else will and might do it wrong,” she said, transforming a sales call into a mission.
It was the same thing that pushed Les Brown from his beginnings as impoverished and “uneducable” to become a state legislator, radio disc jockey, author and master motivational speaker. And it also pulled him through the darkest days of fighting a 17-year bout with cancer. Les spoke about that during an interview with InsuranceNewsNet Publisher Paul Feldman that is featured in this edition.
When Les first heard he had prostate cancer, he remembered the words of his inspiration, Howard Thurman: “Imagine, if you will, being on your death bed, and standing around your bed, the ghost of the dreams, the ideas, the abilities, the talents given to you by life, and you for whatever reason – you never pursued those dreams. You never used those gifts. You never acted on those ideas. And there they are standing around your bed, looking at you with large, angry eyes, and saying, ‘We came to you, and only you could have given us life, and now we must die with you forever.’ ”
That perspective transforms a life into a mission. You don’t go to your job heartbroken over your life. Work becomes a joy. The details stop being so draining. You have something important to give and it is imperative for people to listen.
That’s what happens when you know your purpose and you act on it.
It erases the largest chasm in a person’s being – the shame of undeserving. When we win success but feel we stole it, it’s because we sense we did not deserve it. When we grab a reward but it is not enough for us, it’s because an external thingamabob is not the real fulfillment for us. When we hurt the people closest to us, it’s because we feel unlovable. No one will accept us unless we accept ourselves.
I know what you’re thinking: What does all this have to do with Fat Elvis? Everything.
We know the last day Elvis was cool – Dec. 3, 1968. That was when he did an informal jam session in front of a small audience for a TV special. It featured him, trim Elvis, in full black leather with a guitar and the songs that made America love him. His career was riding on this show. The anxiety that generated was what propelled his dynamic performance, which was so perfect that if he had died the moment after that special, we would remember him as the pinnacle of cool. But, instead Elvis became as kitschy as a prowling purple panther TV lamp.
Why? Elvis lost his way. Many biographies describe Elvis asking why fate had chosen him to be Elvis and what his true purpose was. All the Cadillacs, drugs and fried banana sandwiches in the world were not going to answer that. But it was clear to the rest of the world. He was to be Elvis, the guy who helped you bust out of heartbreak, cut out your crying and learn how to be tough yet tender. He was Elvis to everybody, but Elvis.
So, instead of the model of self-assured masculinity, we have this guffawing cartoon of America suitable for a family-friendly morning show. Maybe that lesson was his purpose after all.