During our week off for Christmas, I elected to watch “Door To Door” starring William H.Macy , Helen Mirren, and Kyra Sedgewick. The movie was about the life of Bill Porter, a gentleman with cerebral palsy who persevered against great odds to become a door-to-door salesman. Overall I found the movie very moving, and here are the lessons that I got from watching it.
Two traits that you must have in order to be successful in EVERY area of your life are PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE. As a person with cerebral palsy, Bill Porter had severe spinal abnormalities that made walking very difficult and he had limited use of his hands. His speech was slow, and many people pre-judged him and thought he was mentally challenged. At his first interview with the sales company, the president told Bill that he wouldn’t hire him as the job required lots of walking and would be too difficult for him. Bill accepted the rejection at first, but then turned around, went back to the president, and begged for a chance. He took the worst route with the worst sales and began there. There were many doors slammed in his face that first week and many NOs, but he persevered, and eventually ended up being Salesman Of The Year for his company many years later.
Your belief in yourself increases exponentially when there is someone in your life who supports you unconditionally. Bill Porter’s mother was his greatest cheerleader! She always told him that he would be a success at whatever he chose to do. She constantly reinforced his potential for greatness.
Don’t let anyone else’s biases determine your worth or place you in a box. Bill Porter could very easily have just sat at home and collected a disability cheque. But he knew that he was not defined by his cerebral palsy. When his boss told him that he scared the child of a potential client, Bill could have allowed that to discourage him. Instead he found a way to connect with that child and made an indelible impression on him into adulthood.
Treat everyone with love and you will become the greatest salesman. Bill Porter treated all his clients equally, without bias. He didn’t judge anyone. He observed his clients and went out of his way to make sure that he helped to improve their lives by discreetly encouraging them to forgive each other and be loving to each other.
No man is an island. It is OK to accept help from others. When technology began eroding his business, Bill was resistant to change. He stubbornly refused the help of his assistant Shelly with invoicing. He was afraid that accepting help meant that he was weak. When he had to break down and sell his house, he was angry at Shelly and her husband for buying the house and trying to rent it back to him at a lower cost. He felt this was undermining his ability to be independent.
Life is too short to hold grudges. Friendship is a precious gift. Bill allowed his pride to deprive him of Shelly’s friendship for a period of time, and eventually this led him to quit his job. Thankfully he eventually came to his senses and reconciled his differences with her. Shelly and Bill’s friendship lasted for almost 30 years until his death at 81 years old.