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Foster connections by embracing vulnerability
Foster connections by embracing vulnerability

Jul 01 2022 / Round the Table Magazine

Foster connections by embracing vulnerability

Mikawa learns that being open is more important for an advisor than past athletic success.

By 蔭島 哲雄 Tetsuo Kageshima

Topics covered

Enjoying yourself shining helps make others shine

A former high school soccer hero experienced a setback when he changed his career to sell life insurance. Jun Mikawa, an 11-year MDRT member who serves on the board of Prudential of Japan Company Club as well as on the Public Relations Committee of the MDRT Japan Chapter, found his cue to resurge by taking a serious and deep look at himself in the slump. He chose to face himself and his challenges because he believes if you could “enjoy yourself shine, then you can let others shine.”

A cool soccer hero

Mikawa was born in Kyoto, Japan, which is known as the ancient capital of Japan and a favorite tourist location because of its old temples, shrines and historic scenes. In addition to the historical heritage, Kyoto is a commercial region with more than 2.5 million people, many of whom are sports enthusiasts. Mikawa became a famous soccer hero in high school and was chosen to compete in interscholastic athletic games and the National Sports Competition, representing Kyoto. He was the center of attention as a youth, and he graduated from the Keio University, the famous and leading private university in Japan. He started his career with a top IT company and led a problem-free life. But Mikawa experienced a serious setback when he changed his career to sell insurance.

Sank to the bottom

While he had a very successful background, Mikawa’s new career with a life insurance company left him feeling defeated on a level he had never experienced before. “My performance was so poor in the first two to three years. I thought I was good at relationship-building, but I had to admit I was not.” Mikawa was struggling and asked his clients for advice. One of the prospects told him, “You look too perfect, and I felt you wouldn’t be able to sense my concerns. I didn’t know what you were thinking, and it was like talking to a robot.” Reflecting on the challenging situation and accepting the fact that he needed to improve was the first step toward resurgence.

Connect with yourself to better connect with others

Mikawa always focused on the bright side, including all of his accomplishments and positive experiences. But he started to face the dark side when things did not go well. With the help of a personal trainer, he started to connect with himself on a deeper level. “People place a lid on the negative memories and try not to remember. You have to connect with yourself to better connect with others,” Mikawa said.

“Most people don’t talk about the negative experiences, and when you do, you talk in a self-deprecating manner to focus on the bright side of yourself. If you don’t accept the dark side, you tend to neglect the unspoken dark side of your clients. When you embrace your negative experiences and failure, you can care more for your clients.”

That is why Mikawa insists on the importance of “connecting with yourself to better connect with others.” His advice is, “If you want to connect with others, you can do so by embracing your bumps and dips, good and bad, to change how you connect with yourself. When you learn how to better connect with yourself, you can connect with others in a dramatically improved level.” Life insurance professionals cannot always talk about happy stories. Listening to clients’ concerns and what they’re struggling with often requires talking about the dark subject of death to help them solve their problems.

By connecting with yourself at the deepest level, you can align with your prospects and clients on a deeper level and proactively listen to their true stories. You can build a great relationship in a much shorter time. Mikawa learned to embrace himself at the bottom, which helped him get back and soar.

Be the person you want to connect with for a long time

When you start connecting with yourself, all of your experiences, good and bad, seem to make sense and help you become a better and more caring person. “When I learned to embrace all, my prospect started to share stories with me, even the subjects they could not share with their partner.” It gives him satisfaction and a sense of accomplishment, often more so than selling insurance. He feels the difference in how his prospects interact with him when he changes his mindset. “I am confident that the deep communication between humans is something robots and AI can never accomplish. I care about my clients not because they buy from me. I want to serve people I can connect with for a long time.”

Based on his concepts of “enjoy yourself shine, then you can let others shine” and “enjoy fun and a bright-as-a-diamond life,” Mikawa is a starting member of a private school named Kiraku (輝楽), which is like a study group, within the Prudential Life Company Club. Mikawa is empowered by learning to connect with himself and others as well as understanding the Kiraku method to help his peers, organization and clients shine.

Tetsuo Kageshima writes for Team Lewis, a communications agency assisting MDRT with content development for Asia-Pacific markets. Contact mdrteditorial@teamlewis.com.

Contact: Jun Mikawa jun.mikawa@prudential.co.jp