By Jack Bobo
From time to time I receive letters from friends who are former colleagues in the service of various parts of what used to be the National Association of Life Underwriters federation (now the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors). Some are past presidents of the national association; others are volunteers at the state and local level as well as professional association execs.
Almost invariably such letters contain expressions of concern over the lack of interest in industry affairs and institutions on the part of newer people in our business. One of the challenges that todays leaders face is to develop an understanding of that lack of concern and find a way to reverse such attitudes.
From what I have read and observed at first hand, we are not alone with respect to this issue. Institutions of virtually all types are reporting a decline in support–particularly the type of support that entails personal involvement. “Im too busy” and “let George do it” are the all-too-familiar refrains replying to calls for help.
But that is not what made America great, and it is not the kind of attitude that will keep it strong. Currently, PBS is running a series called “Freedom: A History of Us.” It is a wonderful series and, while I have seen only half of it so far, it clearly demonstrates that the progress we have made and the comfort we enjoy today resulted from countless struggles and enormous sacrifice on the part of those who have gone before us.
Recent books I have read– one about John Adams, the other about Benjamin Franklin–also detail our struggle for independence and freedom that somehow does not come to full light in our history text books, which only scratch the surface of the reality. Nothing we enjoy today came easy, and it can slip away if we are not willing to work to retain those blessings we cherish.
Our business has not only paralleled the growth and development of most of the history of our country, but it has also played a significant part in its progress. As one Texas insurance company used to say in its literature, “We financed the frontier.” Fact is, as an industry, we helped to finance all kinds of frontiers–science, medicine, social progress and, most importantly, the financial security of the American family.
And, we had our own set of great leaders who blazed the trail before us. We also had our heroes that we looked up to and hoped some day to emulate. In most cases they were heroes not only because they raised the bar and opened new vistas, but because they also practiced the “art of giving back.”
All of the industry institutions that today we often take for granted are the fruits of their vision and labors. How sad it would be if those same fruits were to die on the vine simply because we no longer cared.