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How Tough are they for You?

by Diana Robinson, Ph.D.
There are tough times, and there are tough times. Some of them are temporary and can be out-waited, some of them will last for ever. Some of them occur through no fault of our own, and some of them are self-induced. Some people fold up, take the easy route, and are sure that whatever goes wrong is the fault of tough times. Some people persist regardless.

Bill Porter, for example, has always known that for him times would always be tough, yet he has never quit.

When I am speaking in front of a group that includes sales people, if I, seeking a topic on which to demonstrate coaching, ask what is holding them back from being as successful as they wish, the first and most frequent response is "cold calls." By cold calls they mean calling upon people who don't know them, are not expecting them, and who may or may not be interested in whatever they have to sell. In this day and age cold calling is usually done by phone, so the worst that the individual can expect is to be yelled at by someone s/he does not know and will never need to contact again, or to hear the loud click of the phone being hung up. The best they can expect is an eager response and an eventual sale. Yet most people fear making cold calls to the point that they are paralyzed.

Bill Porter does not make his cold calls by phone. He was until recently a door-to-door salesman of household products. That means looking people in the face as they slam the door on you. It means walking up every set of steps to every front door regardless of how much your body protests. It means being polite even when other people are rude, and smiling even when you know that they are lying, or that they are causing their little children to lie about them not being home.

Bill Porter has cerebral palsy. Because he has difficulty articulating his words, many people assume he is retarded. He is not. Because of what most people might call his disability, for him every task is slow and laborious. Getting ready for work takes hours. From his waking to his arriving at his sales area could take five hours. Walking door to door is slow and difficult, accompanied by constant pain and frequent migraines, yet he usually walked ten miles in a day. He cannot do up his own shoelaces or tie his tie. Yet, refusing to depend on the disability payments for which he could easily have qualified, he walked his way to being a top salesman in all of Oregon, Idaho, Washington and California, for a company that did not believe he could sell at all. (And you think YOU have problems?)

This summer he is the subject of a television movie, "Door to Door," that is showing several times this summer on the TNT cable channel. There is also a book about him, Ten Things I Learned from Bill Porter by Shelly Brady.

Why do I feature Bill Porter in this issue, when it seems he is getting plenty of publicity without me? Partly because not everyone can see cable TV. Not everyone can see American TV. But mostly because everyone can be inspired by his story. Compared with Porter, most of us have lives of ease. Most of us (not all) can use our keyboards with eight fingers and two thumbs, not with just one finger. Most of us (not all) do not live in constant pain. Most of us can tie our shoelaces. Yet how many of us use the problem of the day, or the week, or the year, as a reason why we are not keeping on keeping on toward our goals?

Is there really a reason why we don't go the extra mile in reaching our goals? The life of Bill Porter suggests that, whatever that reason is, it may not be sufficient.


� Diana Robinson, Ph.D. Work in Progress may be reproduced in its entirety only, including this copyright line. Disclaimer -The contents herein are solely the opinions of Work in Progress owner, and should not be considered as a form of therapy nor advice. There is no guarantee of validity or accuracy. If expert assistance or counseling is needed, services of a competent professional should be sought. TO SUBSCRIBE to Work in Progress send a blank e-mail to workinprogress-On@lists.webvalence.com. To offer feedback e-mail Diana