BEHIND THE MIKE By: Michael Aun
Dying alone must be sad. I’ve been in the insurance and estate planning profession for nearly four and one-half decades and my saddest recollections are of those who leave no one behind. No witness. No relative. No loved one. No one who cares.
Many people go through their lives as if they were playing solitary. It has been said if you have a handful of friends, you are a truly wealthy person. Friendship is fostered in the act of giving, not receiving. Many people selfishly do not make the effort to cultivate friendship with others.
I have often referred to these people as part of “your inner circles.” Most of us have several inner circles, some interlocking with others and others that stand alone in their structure. These inner circles, professionally speaking, are often referred to as mastermind groups in the business world.
No matter the world of a specific inner circle, the people in a particular sphere are special in their own unique ways. I belong to several such groups and I hope your world includes a variety as well.
One of my inner circles is my local Toastmasters Club, which I attend every week when I am in my offices in Kissimmee, Florida.
I occasionally participate as a speaker at the club when another scheduled speaker fails to show… but only then. I usually just take notes on a computer and send a recap of the meeting out to everyone by email minutes later.
I am never scheduled to speak but when called upon, I present a 7-9 minute extemporaneous speech on a topic the club gives me. Often they will challenge me further. Each club member gives me a specific word I have to use in the course of the extemporaneous speech. One chooses the topic.
This inner circle knows me well and is permitted to challenge me to think on my feet. The old expression “think outside the box” is ludicrous to me. I feel you should be thinking “inside the box” with the people who know you best, your fellow members of your inner circle. You will never exceed the expectations of your inner circle.
Another inner circle I have is a mastermind group of other businessmen. We meet occasionally for the purposes of sharing challenges that each of us has in our respective businesses. Again, they expect more than casual participation. They demand your best.
I actually have several such mastermind groups that I have been blessed to be a part of over the years. One is a group of colleagues in the insurance and estate planning profession.
Another is a group of fellow professional speakers with varied and different topical backgrounds and fee ranges. You can only learn from those who have mastered what you’re doing and do it well.
Another inner circle is a handful of fellow agents in the Knights of Columbus who face the same cultural and company challenges that I face every day of my business life. We all function in our individual silos where we try to work out our problems and challenges.
Since we are located all over the country, these sessions are conducted via a Web-X session on the phone. The host agent produces a PowerPoint of talking points and facilitates the session, allowing free and open discussion between all participants.
My family is my most important inner circle and our participation with each of our children and grandchildren is always event-focused. For instance, during football season I’m always on the sidelines with my son Cory who is a high school football coach for freshmen, junior varsity and varsity football teams at St. Cloud High School. Those dates are reserved for him and his teams.
When my granddaughters Ashley or Ava have events on their agenda, my wife and I try to be present for each of them and their parents Casey and Cory.
When Christopher and Viviana host a campfire at their home, we enjoy our beautiful grandsons Keenan and Cameron, better known to me as Spike and Yogi. When the boys invade our house every Sunday afternoon, it is the high point of my week to watch them wreak havoc on the place.
Another family inner circle involves Jason and Jessica, who are busy professionals. Jason is a microbiologist with the FDA and is in a different country dozens of times each year. Jessica is a busy doctor. That inner circle is usually over social media for us but we do as much face-to-face as possible.
What do your inner circles look like? Do you have a witness?