Tolerance (Issue 583)

In which we are reminded that, to be successful in the sales business, we must welcome the grind.

 “I can tolerate a lot of discomfort,” she said, smiling slightly.

She was an early twenty-ish woman, probably 5’ 8,” with a steady gaze and easy stance, standing in the footwear  section of an outdoor recreation store.  We were discussing options for hiking boots.

“Most people  want water proof,” she said. “For most of the year, I don’t see the point, on a day hike, at least. I can tolerate a lot of discomfort.”

“So, tell me a story,” I asked.

“Well, three weeks ago,  we were multi-pitch climbing… the Miss Saigon ledge near North Conway, NH…four climbers, two pairs.… started late… sticky hot … sweating hard,  dirt wouldn’t stick …banged arm…made Miss Saigon…an hour’s wait …no water… dead lifted the others … every stitch soaked…no snacks …setting sun, two ways down, rappel or trail walk…too dark… I’m terrified of rappelling, but I said, ‘Let’s rappel down….200 feet …bats swarmed…startled …one on my foot … dark by ground fall…gasping breath….one rope stuck…climbed in dim moonlight to untie it …rappelled down again… cars at midnight….2 hour drive home.”

“Huh,” I thought, looking at the hiking boot she was holding for me, thinking about my greenhorn new Appalachian Mountain Club membership card, feeling an urgent need for a shower, and wondering, “And you like doing this?”

“I’ve been hiking and climbing for a lot of years,” she said, hoping (I think) to restart my breathing.

Well, never mind questions about why she and her friends started so late, etc. etc. etc., there was a goal, a commitment, and some discomfort, and, she repeated,  “I can tolerate a lot of discomfort.”

In the sales world, the best of us also tolerate a lot of discomfort:  Delays, changes, low budgets, no budgets, diversions, lies, withholds, contract attorneys (any variety), regional jets, long drives, slumps, fire drills, lost batteries, missing power cords, taxis…. That’s our Miss Saigon ledge, not hers.

But she said for all of us seriously committed to our climbing crafts, “No whining. Soak it up – sweat, dirt, mess, and scares. Go on.”

So…. Happy Monday!

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