The Elevator is Broken

I have a friend who was trying to lose weight. We were staying at a hotel and our room was on the third floor. I was headed to the elevator when he said something that surprised me.

He said, “The elevator is broken.” I looked, pressed the button and the elevator opened with a “ding”. Puzzled, I said “It looks like it is working to me”. He said, “Yeah, I figured it was working, but I am trying to lose weight so I have to mentally break the elevator. In other words I have to imagine that it is broken so that I force myself to take the stairs.”

Pretending that the elevator is broken may seem silly to you, but it was a clever way for my friend to begin practicing the hard work of self-discipline.

Self-discipline is necessary to be successful in anything, it is what brings consistency and personal growth to hard work.

The conversation with my friend reminded me of a quote from Joe Girard, “The elevator to success is out of order. You’ll have to use the stairs … one step at a time.”

This is true, many people do not understand that any change that you make in your life is hard. They like the romantic idea of doing something great, but the great comes from one grinding step at a time.

There are many elevators that need to break in our lives. If you are in the world of sales then there is added urgency to making these adjustments in your life.

Here are three elevators that cause many agents to fail in final expense sales:


Being your own boss may require a major adjustment. When you worked at a job you were required to be at work at a certain time or there would be consequences.

Now you are the boss. What are your expectations of you? If you start door knocking at 2pm and end your day at 7pm then you are working part time and you will get paid for part time work.

Is that the employee that you need working for you? If you answered no, then you need to become a full-time employee.

The only way to win in this business is to see people. Consistent daily activity will give you a lifestyle that you never expected. If you win it is because you went to work. The “elevator” of getting out late needs to breakdown because the stairs of getting up and out early are the only way to be successful. It takes discipline to knock on a door at 10:30am and to knock on your last door at 8pm.


Years ago, I waited tables. The restaurant I worked at had a menu of 11 pages and a list of 13 different specialty baked potatoes. I was required to have the menu memorized within 2 weeks. I felt like I was taking an exam at Harvard. Why did I do it? Because it was required and expected. You need to have the same requirement of yourself in regards to your carriers.

If you have one carrier, then this should be easy for you (easy for you, but not best for your clients), but if you have multiple carriers then you need to invest a lot more time to learn the underwriting guidelines of each of them.

There is nothing worse than sloppy underwriting. It is the quickest way to go broke. You will not get paid for filling out an application if your client does not qualify for the product.

Two things happen when you do this: You will lose the client and you will begin to lose the trust of the company that you are writing for. Take the time to practice filling out applications. Practice with someone that you trust. Have them use study cards with health issues, smoker or nonsmoker, and different ages. The “elevator” of not knowing the products needs to breakdown, because the stairs of knowing your products is the only way to be successful.


Michael Jordan once talked about his game winning shots. In summary, he said that he prepared to make those game winners by missing many more shots during practice.

Karl Malone once said that you don’t play basketball to get in shape, you get in shape to play basketball. The same is true in sales.

It is a mental game that you must prepare for before you get in the car and head out to your first sit. You must practice your presentation. Practice it with whoever will listen. Practice with your spouse, practice in front of a mirror, practice with your neighbor, practice with your dog, practice with a mime in a park. It doesn’t mater, practice.

When you practice the presentation it frees you up to pay attention to what is happening around you in the home. You will notice your clients body language and be able to tell if they are tracking with you or not. It will allow you to actually plan where the conversation is going while you are doing the presentation. You cannot do those things without knowing the presentation like the back of your hand.

If you go out winging the presentation you will be frustrated, unaware, and broke. The “elevator” of not knowing the presentation needs to breakdown because the stairs of mastering the presentation is the only way to be successful.

“It’s all McDonald’s – McDonald’s of the soul: Momentary pleasure followed by incredible guilt eventually leading to cancer. “I’m loving it.” -Jim Gaffigan

The comedian Jim Gaffigan puts this elevator conversation another way. He talks about the soul soothing idea of McDonalds.

To him McDonalds isn’t just a place, it is an idea. It is all the little tasty things in our life that lack nutrition and are really bad for us. There is some truth to his joke, these are little momentary pleasures that lead to guilt.

From my experience, it is easy to trade success for these little tasty morsels, or it is easy to trade success for the ease of using the elevator. At the end of the day I have to ask myself what am I sacrificing for this ease or the delicious snack. Maybe I do need to turn off Netflix and practice. Maybe I do need to set my alarm an hour earlier and start seeing people earlier. Maybe I do need to read my agent brochure instead of staying up late playing games.

What elevator needs to break for you? Success starts with the stairs, and it is going to suck for awhile, but if you commit to being self-disciplined and putting one foot in front of the other, you will win.

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