By Joe Navarro
Did you know about an alarming statistic announced before the Coronavirus hit which could also be negatively impacting you, your clients and subsequently your sales efforts? (you might be thinking,“Oh great Joe don’t we have enough bad news?”).
Cigna’s Loneliness Index accumulated in 2019 found three in five adults (61%) are lonely. Now, keeping with this line of thinking, add the not so surprising numbers of a more recent poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation which found that half of all Americans feel the Coronavirus has negatively affected their mental health and you have a recipe for disaster! (really lifting you up now aren’t I?)
The situation was compounded when I read the following headline in the Sacramento Bee just recently, “Coronavirus like a ‘poisonous fire hydrant’ of anxiety. Crisis line calls up 1,000%”.
Summing it all up you have extreme loneliness, negative mental health and growing anxiety taking over our psyche today (stay with me I am getting to something more positive).
My reason for sharing this information is first, to reinforce my belief that the better you understand your client’s mood today, the more successful you can be when reaching out to them, as you make an effort to pursue your purpose by offering your services and providing a very real need.
Second, according to researcher Steve Cole, a UCLA researcher, staying connected to purpose and meaning in your life is the single most powerful resilience against all of the negative we are facing today.
Finding the Good During the Pandemic
As you are experiencing there are a lot of folks out there offering webinars and promises of providing you the secret to sell your products and be more successful.
Most are sharing a wealth of information from the same playbook. Do they truly understand, recognize or offer ideas to improve the deteriorating mental health of a large percentage of the people you work with and are trying to help?
This is not a criticism but an observation. Remember the situation is new to all of us and my hope is to help all of you stay positive so you can be more successful while we are confronted by this terrible virus.
My research shows consumers need your expertise more than ever. You have a tremendous opportunity to make a deeper impact on the relationship you have with your clients. By understanding their existing mental health and approaching them with the right information along with a positive attitude you will increase your chance for success.
One interesting term which stood out during my research is called “an attitude of tragic optimism”. The term was created by Viktor Frankl, a Holocaust survivor and psychiatrist from Vienna. He defined it as the ability to maintain hope and find meaning in life despite its inescapable pain, loss and suffering.
I encourage you to read more about tragic optimism to see if it might help you and your clients during the pandemic. (Google – “On Coronavirus Lockdown – Look for Meaning, Not Happiness”).
I have also suggested a few actions you can take that will help you maintain a healthy mental attitude and add more “positive” to all the new and different things you are currently doing for your clients.
Remember, the one thing most of us have in rich and plentiful supply right now is anxiety. Let’s work with each other to turn that around.
As a coach I would suggest that one way of looking at all of this: The coronavirus pandemic is forcing us to reconsider who we are and what we value, and, in the long run, it could help us rediscover the better version of ourselves.
Please consider these ACTIONS for staying positive during a time when what we are experiencing is new to us all.
- Be Smarter When Using Social Media. Resist endless scrolling through YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram or Facebook to name a few. Set a time that you spend on this activity each day then walk away. I am a big fan of the virtual connection but one reason for you to manage your social time is that, along with the positive, there is a lot of negativity being displayed as the situation continues which could potentially impact your mental health.
- Incorporate Virtual Selling. On the other side social media plays an important role in the new norm and is key part of virtual selling. As you have experienced we no longer have the benefit of meeting and connecting face-to-face. People behave differently in virtual selling so for both your business and mental health I highly recommend you spend time looking at what this means to you and how you can incorporate virtual selling into your agency. It is new and can be challenging. I can help you with that in future articles but today the focus is on maintaining your positive mental health.
- 3. Question your Daily Routine in the New Normal. Sweats seem to be the outfit of choice during the pandemic, but from time to time challenge yourself to dress “business casual” (as you would for a “regular” day) or get adventurous by dressing with color and attitude. You’ve heard the old adage…”dress for success.” Have a little fun with it — and push back the negative effects of containment.
- Following the rules, get some fresh air and exercise. Some experts say you can get out and enjoy fresh air, carefully, during the pandemic. Look at it like a daily vitamin. Find a quiet place (that you can call yours) and set a time to experience this activity daily. I must emphasize continue to follow any rules to keep you safe. The bottom line is it will be good for you and will help you feel a little bit normal. If you don’t want to go outside, create a path/track that you can follow in your house so you can walk, exercise and move about. Consider turning on the music and have fun like you did when you were a kid!
- Be Proactive. Write your business model for the Official Restart. What is your plan to help clients once we are up and running again? Do you have a plan to incorporate Virtual Selling and what does it looks like? Most likely there will be continued disruption and confusion along with tremendous opportunity as we get closer to 4th Quarter. The question you need to ask yourself is, “Will I be prepared to help?”
- Be creative. Now is the greatest time in our history to get creative. Innovation rules the new normal. As I repeat over and over with those that I coach, this is all new, none of us have ever experienced anything like it which means we are all learning as we go so why not do things differently?
- Add to your expertise. Have a little fun as you build a better you with something new. Take up a hobby, start playing that guitar that has stood in the corner of your room, read that book you’ve been waiting to read, get that professional certification. Do something you will find rewarding and feel good about to help lighten up your mood, stay positive and be of more value to your clients.
- Find a true partner who is working to keep you in the picture. Carriers and General Agencies are spending a lot of hours attempting to understand what is going on and analyzing how they can partner with you to make this trying time better for you and the people you serve. They know coronavirus is bigger than all of us and they’ll continue to develop more programs to help you and your clients. I highly recommend that none of you should be taking this on without the help of a significant partner.
- Start meditating 20 Minutes a day. I’ve been practicing a form of meditation for 30 years. It works. Learning is pretty straightforward and it should relax you. Using a comfortable, quiet spot in your house, close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. As you breathe in be aware of it, as you breathe out, be aware of it. As your mind wanders, and it will, acknowledge it and return to your breathing. I have simplified the exercise for now but I encourage you to give it a try. I know it might sound unorthodox to you but once again, we are dealing with many unknowns and threatening challenges that we have never experienced before. It is a good time to try new ways to maintain your good health leading to a healthier, happier and purposeful life.
Keep searching for that new knowledge, my friends. I ask myself every day what can I learn to improve the way I help my clients? Do the same and you will find you can make a bigger difference while reaching more clients and expanding your business.
Here’s to continued blessings and good health!
Joe Navarro, most recently director of development for Warner Pacific, is a broker development coach and master trainer for insurance agents.