One Small Act Defeated Discouragement
I was a 20-year-old college student 200 miles from home selling Bibles 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 was knocking on doors, but my heart really wasn’t in it. I was discouraged.
I stopped at a pretty little clapboard house with a neat white picket fence in front. After letting myself through the gate, I timidly knocked on the door.
The biggest, hairiest man I ever saw jerked open the door. He was wearing a greasy undershirt and restraining a growling Doberman.
“Who let you through that gate?” he grunted.
“I let myself in, sir,” I said with a trembly voice.
“Well, let yourself out before I sic this dog on you.”
Terrified, I must have jumped that 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.
I gave 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.
I sat in my car in the driveway for what seemed like a long time to gather enough nerve to knock on the door.
A farmer, in from his fields having lunch, opened the door and greeted me.
“Good afternoon, sir. I’m selling Bibles. You don’t want to buy any do you?” (Have you ever heard a worse sales pitch?)
Already I was prepared to head to my car and hit the road, 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 books in my sales kit; I think they sold for $32, if I remember correctly. A lot of money in 1959.
The farmer bought three family Bibles and three study Bibles. Paid cash in full, instead of the small deposit we typically collected.
I was rich, but I had a problem. I had to stay in Indiana and sell for the summer; I couldn’t lie to myself because I had 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.
I learned to never give up, because persistence pays.
I learned that actions trigger feelings, just as feelings trigger actions.
I learned I don’t have to get it right; I just have to get going.