I was a 20-year-old college student 200 miles from home selling door-to-door in rural Indiana.
Lonely, homesick, and missing my girlfriend, I wasn’t doing too well selling Bibles. And I wasn’t making any money.
Reluctantly, I knocked on doors, but my heart really wasn’t in it. I was discouraged.
My next stop was a pretty little clapboard house with a neat white picket fence in front. After letting myself through the gate, I screwed up courage to knock on the door.
The biggest, dirtiest, hairiest man I ever saw jerked open the door. He was wearing an undershirt and restraining a growling Doberman.
“Who let you through that gate?” he grunted.
“I let myself in, sir,” I said meekly.
“Well, let yourself out before I sic this dog on you.”
Terrified, I must have jumped the fence getting to my car, because I don’t remember opening the gate—or anything—until I was driving down the road.
I was shaken. Tears filled my eyes as I told myself, “I quit. I’m not going back to my boarding house to get my things. I’m driving straight to Nashville and turning in my sales kit.”
As I gave myself this speech, I was nearing the next house about a mile down the highway. Lots of things were on my mind, not the least of which was that I needed to make some money to pay for college in the fall.
Giving myself a little pep talk, I made a deal with myself. I would make one more sales call. If I didn’t make a sale on THAT call, I would quit. Go home with my tail between my legs.
Sitting in my car in the driveway for what seemed like a long time, I gathered the nerve to knock on the door.
A farmer in from his fields having lunch opened the door and greeted me cheerfully.
“Good afternoon, sir. I’m selling Bibles. You don’t want to buy any do you?” (Have you ever heard a worse opening statement?)
Already I was prepared to head to my car, but he said, “I might. Do you have any of those big family Bibles?”
Stunned, I could hardly believe my ears. “Yes sir, I do.”
“Well come in and show me what you have. I’ve been meaning to buy one for my daughters,” he said.
“How many daughters to you have.”
Family Bibles were the most expensive item I had in my sales kit; I think they sold for $32, if I remember correctly. A lot of money in 1959.
A Trial Turned Into A Triumph
He bought three family Bibles and three study Bibles. Paid cash in full, instead of the small deposit we usually requested.
I was rich, but I had a problem. I had to stay in Indiana and sell for the summer, because I couldn’t lie to myself. I made a deal with myself.
I had clumsily turned a trial into a triumph.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I had exercised the one thing that will almost always ensure success—persistence.
Never give up. Persistence pays.
You don’t have to get it right. You just have to get started.
Work all day long. Then make one more attempt.
All you can do is all you can do, but all you can do is enough.
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