Acknowledging The Past,
Anticipating The Future

Farmer Nelson Henderson is famously quoted for saying, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

Charles M. Billow

Charles M. Billow

When the founders of National Selected Morticians were gathering to discuss the possibility of establishing an organization where there was value of interchanging ideas to the mutual advantage to all concerned—to meet at conventions and give each other the benefit of experience and viewpoint that each could apply to their individual firms—there was no way to forecast the potential impact of their deliberations. We, as the current membership of Selected Independent Funeral Homes, are the beneficiaries of these far-sighted visionaries.

The principles upon which this organization was founded have stood the test of time. There is a timelessness to these people to which we own a debt of gratitude and an obligation to not only manage our present but always to be looking forward to our futures—where we may not have the luxury of enjoying the shade.

Selected has a wide range of programs where we can gather information on how to continually enhance our services in a very dynamic era of change. Yes, tradition is still a very important element in many of our current offerings, but there is very little in common with our day-to-day business practices from a century ago. The basic call to the exchange of ideas and improving methods of conducting business is still relevant with the online Forum, Selected Study Groups, Management Comparative Program, Best Practices Exchange and Family Follow-Up Survey Program.

But none of these programs were in existence one hundred years ago, nor could they have been envisioned before the Internet and continual improvement in communication. One hundred years ago, we communicated by telephone, telegraph and “tell your neighbor.” Today we have texting, email, voice messaging and the mixed blessing of always being available. Within the current programs that are a benefit of your membership in Selected, there are several that are at the core of what our future looks like: the Selected Leadership Academy and NextGen opportunities.

I often have referred to the importance of the very special, even sacred, nature of our endeavors as funeral service professionals. Among the important questions we should all be asking ourselves and all our co-workers is, “How in the world do we make a difference?” Nurturing, cultivating, mentoring and providing opportunities for full immersion into funeral service by all our young professionals just may be a way of planting the seed for future shade—under which we do not expect to sit.

I always have been inspired by people in leadership positions who know how to move forward when the future is unknown. President John F. Kennedy is known and remembered for many things. He was a visionary, wanting to put a man on the moon among other things. One of his most famous quotes is, “For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future.”

Selected Independent Funeral Homes will continue to be strong, if we seek the best to learn from, share with, mirror and emulate professional best practices and what is in the best interest of the public—the people we have served so well for more than a century. Let’s not miss the future!