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From tragedy to triumph: how passion leads to a mission
From tragedy to triumph: how passion leads to a mission

Nov 01 2022

From tragedy to triumph: how passion leads to a mission

David Trusler shares how a family tragedy resulted in passion for protecting clients.

By David Trusler, MBA

Topics Covered

Like many of you, I dreamed of reaching Top of the Table and staying there. That journey has been a fun ride so far, but it did not start out that way. My first several years felt like a roller coaster ride with short bursts of success followed by periods of what felt like complete failure. When business was difficult, I blamed my struggles on everything but myself. So, I switched companies multiple times thinking that opportunities would be better, or I would be more successful in a new place. As you know, the grass is not always greener on the other side.

The first time I learned about MDRT I remember how impressed I was with the advisors who were able to qualify. I was barely scraping enough commissions to earn a decent living at that point in my career. The thought of selling enough life insurance just to qualify for MDRT seemed like a major stretch, and Court of the Table or Top of the Table seemed impossible to me. Year after year, I set a goal to sell enough to qualify but would fall short.

On Christmas Eve 2011, I experienced a life-changing event that would not only alter my life and career forever but would impact those I love and serve. I was celebrating the Christmas holiday with my family in Virginia. It was cold and snowy outside while we were all having a wonderful time opening presents and enjoying great food and drink. I noticed that I missed a few calls from my mother, but I decided to call her back once our family gathering settled down a bit. Oddly though, I received a voicemail from my Uncle Perry, asking me to please call my mother. When I did, I had no way of preparing for what she was about to tell me. I could tell that she was upset and had been crying. She could barely speak the words, “Honey, Cole was in a car accident, and he died.” I could not believe what I was hearing her say. Cole, my 15-year-old son, was killed in a head-on collision. To this day I cannot remember if I hung up on my mother or just dropped the phone, but I do remember the overwhelming emotion of disbelief, confusion, anger and tears. It was surreal.

I did not want to sit around and feel sorry for myself, so within a few days I went right back to work. This time was different though. I can clearly remember my first appointment and how I felt when the client said, “Let me think about it” — the most common objection we advisors hear. But that day I responded with purpose. I responded like a man who just lost his son. I explained to the prospect how fragile life is and how we are not promised tomorrow. I was bold and direct but clearly speaking from my heart.

The rest of that year was different from any other year I had experienced. I still had my goal of reaching MDRT, but I do not remember ever thinking about it. My focus changed. My drive changed. I was truly passionate about protecting our clients. It was almost like I was trying to protect them like a father would protect their children.

I did not realize until I received my year-end sales report that I had more than doubled my commissions. The report amazed me, but reaching my goal was not as rewarding as I thought it would be. That’s because I had a new mission. I had a desire, a passion, to serve others and someday leave this world knowing that I gave it everything I had to protect families for generations to come.

My son’s death was horrible, but it caused me to view life and death differently. It caused me to realize that the life insurance profession is more than selling coverages and collecting premiums. It is not about sales contests or fancy incentive trips. Life insurance is there when a widow loses their spouse and children lose their parents. It is about providing protection for loved ones. It is about allowing family members to mourn without worrying about finances. When the funeral homes, hospitals and bill collectors have their hands out, we as life insurance agents are there to hand our clients the check and provide condolences without expecting anything in return.

I encourage you to find that passion, that burning desire to serve others, to protect them and their families. Find the desire to make an impact on the people and the communities you have been blessed to serve. If you do that, this business will no longer seem as difficult, and you will soon reach heights that you can barely imagine.