Recently, I attended an industry meeting. At this meeting, they had a Key Note Speaker that reached the peak of Mt. Everest, not once, but twice. The interesting thing is that he had previously attempted the climb two other times but was unsuccessful reaching the peak. The talk itself was inspirational and a true testament to the human spirit and the drive to succeed. The theme of his talk was about perseverance, reaching goals and ultimately finding life’s purpose within one’s self.

Although I enjoyed listening, I was after all at an Insurance Symposium. So, I find myself asking what the relevance was? What possible connection can climbing Mt. Everest have on what it is we all do for a living? Then it hits me! Months and years go into the planning of an expedition to the top of Everest. Everything has to be calculated, all of the equipment, all of your supplies, food, oxygen, etc. In fact, one of the funny things mentioned by the speaker was running out of toilet paper. Seems funny but the metaphor it provided is not very different than our life goals? We work throughout our lives to save enough so that we can retire comfortably. Let’s call that our Personal Everest Peak. Through “our supplies” that we bring along the way, did we bring enough “toilet paper.”

The problem with climbing to the summit of Everest is that once you get there, you have to get yourself back down again. And so with it comes the second part of the planning process. As I learned, so many things can go wrong with an expedition to the summit; not just on the way up, but on the way down, which is just as dangerous. And that brings me to my point.

Our Personal Peak is achieved by a number of things along the way. We can save our money, buy homes, enjoy vacations, put our kids through college. That’s our plan, but as we all know things just don’t go smoothly as we ascend to our Personal Everest Peak. All of the plans we make always have bumps and obstacles along the way. What we do along the way gets us through those times. We stay on course and eventually reach the peak, but now what? We have to get down safely!

After listening to the speaker, I am analogizing reaching the peak to having enough retirement assets to cover me on the way down. I want to do a lot of things. Enjoy my retirement, help my children, pay for weddings, enjoy grandchildren possibly, travel and overall reap the rewards of planning well for my trip to the summit. But there are possible obstacles that await. They can come in the form of Health/Long Term Care events, a financial crisis or simply living too long. Regardless of what it is, it is inevitable that something will occur that will deviate us from our “plan.” More importantly, affecting our safe return down.

What can we do as Insurance Advisors? How can we help our clients (and ourselves)? As advisors, there are so many tools that we have at our disposal to help prepare for both legs of the journey. By adequately insuring families today, we can make sure they have the right supplies (and yes, enough toilet paper), to make it through for those uncertainties.

For families protecting wealth, we can provide the needed life insurance to ensure liquidity to pay Estate Taxes. We can also create wealth to protect assets from financial catastrophes by providing Long Term Care benefits to families of modest means. We can employ tax strategies though the products we sell and maximize incomes by guaranteeing funds so that our clients don’t outlive their money.

There is so much we can do to help people on the way up to their Personal Peak and especially for the journey down, which as we know can be even more treacherous. After hearing the speaker talk, I really don’t believe his intention had anything to do with “the insurance industry.” Seeing a speaker who talked about climbing Everest ultimately had so much to do with what we do every day. Our clients work their entire lives to get to their Personal Peak. Now, let’s help them get back down safely, weather the storms and do what we do best to get them there.