It was just after Christmas. I was cold calling in the office with my coworker, Rob. It wasn’t going well for either of us, but I was in a good mood anyway because I loved what I was doing. I turned to Rob and said, “Don’t we have the best jobs in the world?”
He put down the receiver after a particularly strong rejection and looked over at me with a “You’re out of your mind” look on his face.
“Are you kidding?!” Rob exclaims.
“Really,” I replied. “The only thing we need to do this job is our mouth! We can cold call, get people into our (training) classes, and teach them. We could even do it from wheelchairs.”
“You’re out of your mind.”
We got back on the phone and finished out the day.
The next day I woke up excited to go to work and I fell out of bed. When I stood up, my right side gave way and I went crashing to the ground. My wife of two months woke immediately, looked at me and asked if I was OK. I answered her and noticed she cocked her head quizzically and asked me to repeat myself.
After a quick call to my mother — a medical professional — we decided a trip to the hospital would be prudent. Kate helped me dress, get into the vehicle and get to the emergency room.
Five days and a thousand tests later, my doctor sat before me with the verdict: I had a stroke.
Twenty-seven years old, 6-foot-3, 207 pounds, a resting heart rate of 40 and blood pressure of 90/60: How was this even possible? My incredulity turned to dismay when the damage was surveyed. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t feed myself, and my speech was so slurred the nurses and my wife had difficulty in understanding my simplest requests. They cocked their heads trying to understand my words.
Just days before, the only thing I needed to make my living was my mouth, and now that was gone. What do I do now? Only two months married, I feared for our economic well-being if I couldn’t repair myself.
I was fortunate. I was surrounded by supportive people: my wife, my priest, our friends and my tae kwon do school, Dong’s. I began my rehab there. Every day — sometimes twice.
Over time, my right leg and arm got stronger with Master Taylor and Master Dong’s encouragement and effort.
With a grueling regimen of phonics exercises and reading aloud, I regained my ability to speak clearly. Only those that knew me before the stroke can really tell the difference now — and only when I’m really tired.
Here’s the real lesson and I learned it in rehab — you know — the tae kwon do studio:
Get knocked down seven times, stand up eight.
Sales is a hard profession — rejection is never fun. The economy has been hard — the search for new customers can seem both fruitless and endless. Your customers have had it hard — they aren’t buying as much as they used to. You listen to their complaints.
Doubt can creep into your mind daily:
“Am I strong enough to get through this?”
“Am I good enough?”
“Can I sell enough?”
“Can I make it back to the numbers I used to do?”
Stop focusing on the past and anything you believe damaged you. Stop focusing on what you had in the past. Realize that there are people that want you to win. Set new objectives and goals for yourself while realizing that sometimes we get knocked to the mat.
Patrick Morin is a partner with The Cross Partnership, a global consultancy that is engaged by private equity groups, boards of directors, and CEOs to improve the performance of their invested companies. The Cross Partnership works with select start-ups, growth companies, and turnarounds to stabilize operations and ramp up revenue and employee performance.