John Wesley once said: “Catch on fire with enthusiasm, and people will come for miles to watch you burn.”
Before I began my career in insurance, I spent my first few years out of college on staff with a local nonprofit mentoring youth in Dallas. For two years, I spent most of my time around junior high and high school kids. I coached soccer, track, spoke at schools and walked the lunchrooms and hallways trying to build trust and respect. My goal was to connect with the kids on their level. I wanted to get inside their world and understand their hearts. I wanted to show them, through my actions, that the only difference between me and them was simply a few extra years of life.
After a year of hanging out with kids nonstop, I started to remember what it was like to be in high school again. I remembered the feeling of Friday night lights with the band playing in the background, the feeling of getting behind the wheel of my Jeep for the first time, the roar of the crowd when I would score, the emotions that came with victory and loss, and the feeling of my parents’ wrath after missing curfew. I started to feel “young” again, and the kids started to see me as one of them. That’s when my impact on their lives became real.
My purpose for being on staff, the reason I was being paid with donor dollars to become a kid again, was because the nonprofit organization I worked for recognized that kids needed a mentor in their life that they could relate to.
But as I reflect on that time in my life, I recognize that those kids also affected my life without knowing it. They helped me remember what it was like to be ambitious, full of passion, energy and creativity. They helped me revisit those moments when my dreams didn’t sound crazy — when the sky was the limit and the possibilities were endless — when the only thing standing in the way of success was myself.
Going Through the Motions
I was fortunate enough to learn an important lesson during those first few years out of college that will stick with me for the rest of my insurance career. I learned that in all areas of life and business, spending time with youthful hearts is the perfect remedy for complacency.
Few things concern me more than when I look around a room full of seasoned insurance professionals who are just going through the motions. They aren’t growing in their knowledge or exercising their creative minds because the passion they once had for the game is gone. They are tired, beat down by the nature of the business, and it’s just not fun anymore. They are playing defense until their retirement, and most notably, their hearts have become a graveyard of invaluable knowledge and experience.
Young producers have the ability to create a significant, meaningful and immediate impact on their organizations in a way that goes beyond the numbers. They can come into an organization and breathe new life into older producers, reminding them of what it was like when they first started. Young producers give the seasoned professional an opportunity to remember just how dangerous he or she can be by bringing in a tailwind of passion, enthusiasm and creative ideas with them through the door. And the best part about it is that young producers play pure offense.
The lesson I learned during those first few years out of college will serve as a constant reminder to always surround myself with people who guard their hearts and minds against complacency. Unfortunately those kinds of people are rare, especially in our industry.
The passion, enthusiasm, and innovative thinking of a young producer can combat a culture of complacency and create a ripple effect of increased productivity throughout your entire office. They will re-engage your aging workforce, putting their wealth of knowledge and experience back into the marketplace where it belongs.
And it’s a beautiful thing to watch.
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