I-I Had a Feeling That I Belonged, and I-I Had a Feeling I Could Be Someone


I don’t normally watch the Grammy Awards, but I wanted to hear Billy Joel’s new single. And of course, the legendary Joni Mitchell. But the performance that stole the show in my opinion was the Tracy Chapman and Luke Combs’ duet of Chapman’s song Fast Car.

Like thousands of people, I found myself singing the song that has been an anthem of teenagers for almost four decades at the top of my lungs with tears streaming down my face. It’s a song you recognize within a few chords of the beginning guitar riff. Like so many of the songs I remember from my life, the words can have a different meaning and stir a different emotion depending on what is going on with my life at the time. But that Sunday night as I listened to their beautiful rendition of that song, I was flooded with the pain, strength, and wistful hope of the character in the song just wanting to get away from what their life was. And as I watched Champman and Combs I could see their respect for each other and a song that has meant so much to three or four generations. The wishful chorus that stirs a desire no matter what is going on when you hear it… I-I had a feeling that I belonged, and I-I had a feeling that I could be someone, be someone, be someone. You could feel Chapman and Combs were engaged with each other in that song, as was every single person in that room and watching at home.

And what is engagement? It’s feeling like you belong and that you have an opportunity to be someone- whoever that is for you.

So, what about our members? Do they have a feeling that they belong? That they could be someone?  Are they engaged? Membership is a major focus year after year for IAIP and the key to retaining members is in that chorus and being sure they feel engaged—that they belong.

But beyond that iconic chorus, Fast Car’s lyrics can offer more clues to membership engagement or lack of engagement. Do your local, council, and regional associations make your members feel welcome? Feel valued? Or do you ignore members that might have new or different ideas? Do you tell them that their ideas won’t work? Do you invite members to share their ideas, talents, and input? Do you include them in conversations and decisions? Or do you exclude them? Are you driving your members to want a ticket anywhere? Making them feel that Any place is better, starting from zero got nothing to lose. Me, myself, I got nothing to prove. Do we make them feel that they have to prove themselves to be worthy of inclusion? That they’ve got nothing to lose if they don’t attend meetings and conferences or renew their membership? Maybe together we can get somewhere…. And when they leave will they take other members with them? Do they want to fly away? Are they looking for a “fast car”?

Or do you ensure that when they remember their last encounter and interaction with your group that they smile and look forward to coming back and being a part of the group? Is your association a cold shoulder or a warm hug? And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder. Do they step up and volunteer to take on leadership roles, teach classes, participate? Do they keep coming back and enthusiastically renew their membership because I-I had a feeling that I belonged. I-I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone.

Brenda McDermott, CPCU, CLP, SCLA, CIIP, SCLA, ARM, AIDA, AIC is a workers’ compensation claims specialist in The Hartford’s Major Case Unit. She is a past International Rookie, Claims Professional of the Year, Risk Management Professional of the Year and International CWC Speak-Off winner. She was the 2022 Region V Insurance Professional of the Year. She has been a long-term member of IAIP and served in multiple offices at the local, state, and regional levels. A past Region V RVP she is currently serving as the Region V Marketing Director and Assistant to the RVP. She is co-chair of the International Marketing and Today’s Insurance Professional committee. She is an MAL in Region V from Missouri.

Share This