Bill Porter. Incredible man.
He was born with cerebral palsy, yet as he was growing up, his Mother told him he could do anything. He wanted to be a door-to-door salesman like his Dad, but was deemed unemployable by the state. He refused to go on disability. He exemplified persistence and patience, finally convincing Watkins Inc. to give him a door-to-door salesman job, selling their products on a 7 mile route that no one wanted.
Think about door-to-door sales. Not an easy gig to begin with. I know. I did it for 6 years. When I imagine Bill Porter, for over 40 years, everyday, greeting people with his slurred and laborious speech, only having the use of one hand and carrying his briefcase in that hand for miles everyday, knowing that walking was very painful for him…I am truly astounded, impressed, and inspired to step it up big time in my own life.
He didn’t let any of his limitations stop him from doing what he wanted to do. He had a positive mental attitude, and made himself a success. He did what it took. He had customers fill in their own order forms. He used his typewriter to type out his orders and delivery instructions using one finger, and typing one letter at a time. It took hours. After his mother got Alzheimer’s, he would take the bus everyday to a downtown Portland hotel, where the bellboys would straighten his collar, put on his tie and cuff links, and tie his shoes. He couldn’t drive, so he hired a teenager to deliver his orders for him.
When he was hit by a car, and was unable to walk for several months, he adapted and continued his sales by phone.
Bill Porter eventually became Watkins’ top seller, working for the company for over 40 years.
20/20 aired two segments on Bill Porter. This is a quote from the second one: “He’s a source of strength, because what he believed he could do, he did. And all the voices in his life that told him “No” were silenced by the whisper of his will.”
- He devised a system that worked from his first mile on.
- He stuck stubbornly to the order he had established.
- Rain or shine he walked his 7 to 10 miles a day, often painfully for around $300 a week, never complaining.
Bill Porter passed away on December 3, 2013 at the age of 81, yet his legacy lives on. That legacy for me is his positive attitude, stick-to-itiveness, resourcefulness, passion, determination, dedication, commitment…and the list goes on and on.
Bill’s life shines a light on the many ways, over the years, that I’ve quit on myself, on living up to my potential, on following through on promises I’ve made to myself. I choose to not dwell on this though. Rather, I see clearly how I can play much bigger in my life, be significantly more disciplined on a daily basis, and rise to fulfilling the big dreams I have for my life.
It’s a New Year. 2017. I take Bill Porter with me in my heart this year. The times that I feel like giving up and quitting on my commitments to myself, I pull out his picture and remember his endurance, stamina, staying power, persistence, perseverance. The times I feel fear, I pull out his picture and remember his convictions, courage, bravery, non-conformity. The times I feel tired, I pull out his picture and remember him walking in pain 7 to 10 miles a day, typing with one finger for hours… And I am inspired to be grateful, to carry on, to push forward, to not settle, to live boldly, to live well, to really live.