Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.
Learn by Heart
I had the good fortune of starting my education in a little one room Country School. Classes 1 through 8 were all held in that one room. The older students usually helped the one teacher with some of the younger kids. We had a young but very thorough teacher. She seemed to have a goal of teaching each student to commit many different things to memory, songs, poems, famous inventors, etc.. For the little kids it might be “Jack and Jill Ran Up The Hill.” The older ones may recite “Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.” I found out it wasn’t 208 Main Street, Gettysburg! It contained almost three hundred words that she wanted us to remember. It helped a lot to listen to the older kids recite it.
We memorize things with a goal in mind, remembering important dates, events, Bible verses, whatever it might be, the goal it is to retain the meaning of what we memorize, for the rest of our lives. The human mind is set up this way and it works very well. Many people at 90 years old, repeat word for word poems and songs that they learned as children, the meaning of those words stayed with them for 90 plus years. That is an awesome power.
In 1965 I decided I would try to become an insurance agent so I started to work for a company out of Des Moines, Iowa. I worked at first with an older agent who was going to teach me all about insurance sales, how you go about closing the sale, all of the things I needed to know about becoming a successful agent. This all went quite well, but on some occasions, the clock could be approaching midnight, we were still at someone’s house trying to close the sale. He was determined to sell the people their first insurance policy. This just happened to be the year Medicare started, that didn’t help. Everyone seemed to be looking at the clock, finally the people decide to take the policy. I know it was mainly to get us out of their house so they could go to bed. I often wondered how many of those people kept the insurance?
In 1966 Mutual of Omaha was looking for young wannabe agents, with fire in their bellies, ready to go out selling insurance of all types. They even had a special seminar in Omaha at company headquarters to get these young people started off on the right foot. I came to the conclusion, I had nothing to lose, they were going to fly me to Omaha, put me up in a hotel. A ten-day crash training course on every aspect of the insurance business and how to sell the product to a reluctant world. How could I go wrong?
That seminar was probably comparable to cramming for final exams at College. I didn’t go to college, so I could never have imagined my mind trying to absorb so much material. The ‘coup de grace’ was a 3000-word track, to be recited at the graduation banquet. It was a sales pitch that everyone was supposed to commit to memory to become successful. I spent night and day rehearsing for banquet night and was the only one out of several dozen who repeated the sales track verbatim. I had committed it to my memory, for that, I was rewarded with my first dollar from Mutual of Omaha. Each one of the seminar instructors had signed their names on it. I felt it was quite an honor.
Knowing that word track verbatim did not seem to help my sales closing ability, when it came time to getting people to sign on the dotted line. I learned soon after returning back to the field, I had to put more pressure on clients. My prospects were selling me on why they couldn’t afford to buy insurance, they had all kinds of reasons why there was just no money in their budget to spend on insurance, they just couldn’t do it. I would sit and listen to these people tell me their Tales of Woe. That got me feeling bad for them, there were even times I thought of slipping a few dollars under the table cloth before I left.
I nailed the 3000-word sales pitch, committed it to memory perfectly, but it sure didn’t change me much. I guess we are what we are, it is not easy to change, or toughen up our inner workings.