A Harrowing Ordeal Taught Me Something Important About You

by Certified Life Coach Alissa Gauger, MBA

“That car is going to crash right into me!” I thought while driving 55 mph down a highway with a big red dump truck going by in the left lane and a car bearing down on me in my own lane. She was close enough that I could see her large black Jackie O sunglasses and the fact that she was not reacting at all to the imminent crash if one of us didn’t make a move right now.

This situation last week could have had so many outcomes. Thanks so my quick-thinking lizard brain, I had the wherewithal to slow down as much as I could and then turn right off the road and go straight down a steep embankment not knowing what the heck might happen. When the car stopped I said a prayer of thanks. I was miraculously okay! My worst problem was being stuck in a ditch (our parent’s worst fear right?!).

I’d like to take a moment to issue you a challenge. This scary moment could happen to you; to someone you love, to a person in your community, to a stranger on your phoning list—anybody! This is why we all need you to do your job as a Financial Representative! The fact that you are willing to face the discomfort day in and day out of telling us all what we need to hear, but don’t want to hear, is so important! I’m not ready to cash in my policies, believe me. I hope to never have to! But it really mattered to me while reflecting about what happened that my family and my employees would be okay if I was gravely hurt or, God forbid, killed. That peace of mind was comforting to me and is a direct result of the work you all do!!

As I was crying in my car from the shock and relief of it all I tried to dial several towing companies to pull me out. Either they didn’t have the equipment or they couldn’t come for hours. I was just settling in for the wait when I heard a voice yelling, “Are you okay???” I looked up the grassy bank and could only see the top of a head-a green cap. As the person leaned in I could see it was a farmer who’d stopped to check on me after seeing my blue Chevy Impala parked unceremoniously in the weedy ditch. I struggled to push the car door open with the steep angle and then pulled myself out and yelled, “Yes, I am okay, but I’m stuck here!” He scurried down the bank to check and said he was so relieved I was okay and asked if I’d like help with my car. He promptly drove it out in a very interesting and aggressive way. I’ve never seen my Chevy drive like that before (who knew?)! Then, there it was sitting back up on the highway and it was drivable! Waves of relief washed over me.

I introduced myself, he introduced himself. We hugged. He knew of me and my family and where our farm house is (just a mile down the road). In fact, my house sits right next to the fields he rents out every year for soybean or corn. I have waved at him dozens of times in the various farm equipment he drives up and down our rural Wisconsin road. He said, “You’ve done a nice job cleaning up your fence lines!” Despite being all slobbery from crying, I perked right up. My wife and I had been working on those overgrown fence lines for years. “Thank you!” I replied kind of bashfully. I was very flattered that a farmer was complimenting our fence lines. I was so overcome with gratitude that he stopped to check on me, helped me out of the ditch, figured out that we knew each other and then complimented the work we’ve done on our land. This is the true definition of a good person, a neighbor and a citizen.

Can you do me a favor and help me pay it forward? I would like to see an end to pancake fundraisers, quilt raffles and charity BBQs, etc… They are wonderful, but held just to keep a family’s head above water after tragedy when insurance (even a small amount) could have covered the basics. Then, the fundraisers could be used instead to rally social support; healing and extra resources once the essentials are paid for. No one should have to worry about losing their home, not being able to pay their bills or facing a lifetime of unexpected expensive health care bills. I am all for communities rallying support around people, believe me! It just saddens me that a disability policy, a long term care policy (for at home medical care, for example) or life insurance could have set that family up with a sustainable means of recovering AND community support.

You can be the difference. More often than not, people are just not aware that life can change in the blink of an eye on an ordinary day. We are all human. We are all vulnerable no matter what our income or lifestyle. Your job matters so much. Please pick up the phone, set some meetings and help even more people experience security in a world that is full of uncertainty.

Coaching Tip I feel tremendous gratitude to you, my clients, for doing such impactful work. Do you allow yourself to feel gratitude? Did you know that your brain cannot process gratitude and anxiety at the same time? If you focus on the many things for which you are grateful each day it can help lessen the discomfort of phoning, prospecting and other activity. Start a gratitude practice! You can jot down a few things you are grateful for each day in your phone, a journal or even on pieces of paper that you drop into a jar. Revisit your gratitude list whenever you need to revisit your purpose. We need you!