From the time my son was 2 or 3 years old, baseball has been “our thing.” I grew up on the sport and played through college. So when I found out our firstborn was a lefty, it was only natural that I went right out and bought him a glove and bat.
Over the years, Bobby and I experienced life together through the lens of baseball. It became our bond. I had the opportunity to coach him up until high school, which allowed me to share my knowledge and love of the sport. More importantly, it allowed us to spend time together and provided me a needed outlet from a stressful sales job. I vividly remember dropping him off for his first day of practice with the high school team and wondering, "What am I going to do now"?
There was still plenty to do – and watch. Bobby went on to play college baseball at William & Mary, where he was part of a historic season as a junior. They won the first two tournament games in the school's history and set a team record for wins in a season.
Baseball gave us a common language, which allowed us to build our relationship and handle the tough issues in life as they presented themselves. Some of my fondest memories are of us working in the batting cage after a particularly tough tournament. Throwing bucket after bucket of balls until my arm went numb, I would talk to Bobby about how to handle the hardships of the day and come out better on the other side.
A few big lessons that we consistently discussed come to mind ...
Have a short memory – Baseball seasons are long (as are lives), so while it's important to learn from your mistakes, don't dwell on them. From pitch to pitch, game to game, we need to move on to the next opportunity without carrying the baggage from the last.
Get back to the cage – When things go bad, and they sometimes will, go back to what you know. Getting in the cage and working on the fundamentals will help you "find your swing" again and get your performance back on track.
Breathe – Bobby pitched all the way up to high school varsity and often was involved in stressful situations when the game was on the line. We coached him to take a moment before each big encounter, to take a deep breath, and focus on the task at hand. Block out the noise and lock in on your task.
Watch the tape – The fact that I used the word tape identifies me as old school, but the concept works in any medium. Before each tournament, we would spend time with the boys on the opposing team that we were going to face. Knowing how they performed against the competitors, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of their players, and thinking through how they might approach us gave us a bit of an advantage during the game and allowed us to be more efficient with in-game adjustments.
Keep your options open – This may be the most important message of all. Most kids who start playing ball think at some point that they want to grow up and be a professional. As we all know, the numbers are against them – less than 1,500 people are playing Major League Baseball at any given time. As a parent, it’s tough to figure out how to support your kid's dream and also give them the appropriate dose of reality. By being an excellent student, as well as a strong baseball player, Bobby earned the right to walk on to a D1 baseball team at a great academic institution.
So what does all this have to do with your day to day?
I think most of us would say our current environment is fast paced and stressful. Most of our days are filled with meetings, key deliverables, and interactions with peers and customers. I don't know about you, but my only breathers during the day occur when a meeting cancels unexpectedly. Otherwise, I'm catching up over or after dinner (while watching a Sox game). That's why I think the lessons Bobby and I learned from baseball are very applicable.
Have a short memory – While it might feel like a constant sprint, we are running a longer race. By identifying and focusing on the important aspects of your role needed to achieve your goals, you can limit the external noise that threatens your ability to stay on course. We are all going to have bad moments in the day, but don't let those moments create bad days, weeks, etc.
Get back to the cage – For each of us, there are fundamentals we do well – the kinds of things that got you where you are in the first place. When things are a struggle, get back to what you do best and focus on the basics. For me, that is strategy. When I'm struggling with an issue, what works best for me is to turn on the classical music and go to the whiteboard. What is that "cage work" for you?
Breathe – When those tough moments occur, take a moment to breathe before you react. I heard someone recently use the phrase "one-breath meditation." I've tried it a few times lately, and it really works. A deep breath through the nose (via the stomach, held slightly, then let back out through the nose) can do wonders to clear your head.
Watch the tape – I often find myself putting out fires all day, then wanting to run out the door to get home to family or get a workout at the end of the day. How often do we take a few minutes at the end of the day or week to REFLECT on what's going on and whether or not our actions are having the desired effect? I started blocking 30 minutes at the beginning of each day to do that review work.
Keep your options open - It's important for all of us to work on our craft regularly. Are you a student of the business? What are you reading outside your specialty that broadens your horizons and challenges you to think about the business differently? This is one of the things I've skimped on lately. I still read a lot, but it tends to be more "lose myself" fiction than challenging, thought-provoking works. Take a class, watch TED videos, etc. Do anything to help you increase your capabilities and expand your mind.
As the great baseball philosopher Yogi Berra said, "90 percent of this game is half mental." Hopefully, life’s lessons from baseball can help you. I'm looking forward to sharing more with Bobby as he moves into the next phase of his life. Now that he's stopped playing, maybe we can achieve my goal of seeing a game at every major league park.
When seeking to insure a client with hepatitis, you might not know where to start or be overwhelmed by the data available online. This is understandable – a simple Google search will generate more than 44.6 million results!
OK, let’s back the train up and start with the A, B, C, D’s and yes, even E’s, of hepatitis. What is hepatitis? How is it contracted? What is the treatment? What impact does it have on underwriting?
For starters, hepatitis is inflammation and swelling of the liver caused by an infection. Its onset may be sudden or gradual and in some cases could even be “silent” or undiagnosed. Often, it is the result of a viral infection.
Hepatitis B – Often prevented by standardized vaccination. The infection can be acute (short lived) or chronic (more than six months). Some people experience no symptoms during the initial infection, while others have a quick onset of symptoms. Treatment includes antiviral drugs.
Hepatitis C – No vaccination available. This can be acute, or it become chronic (more than six months). Treatment includes antiviral medications, but over time, chronic hepatitis C can severely damage the liver.
Autoimmune Hepatitis – When the body’s own immune system will attack the liver and cause inflammation. The disease often progresses to become chronic and occurs secondary to alcohol, drugs, toxins and medications. Treatment includes a steroid such as Prednisone or drug called Imuran.
Depending on the type and specific details of a client’s hepatitis history, life insurance carriers will give possible consideration of coverage – some even qualifying without a rating. Generally, the most favorable clients include those who have completed treatment with documented stability through interval lab testing, which shows normal liver function results (AST, ALT and GGT). Carriers also like to see an undetectable viral load – the amount of virus in the bloodstream.
Important factors of consideration also include date of diagnosis, disease duration, liver biopsy results (if any), type of treatment (if any), date of last treatment, current/historic alcohol use and overall control/compliance of care.
To make your next case a little easier, view our Hepatitis Questionnaire, then call your Ash Brokerage team – we’re ready to help!
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