COMMENTARY: Just Keep on Knocking 748.2

In the summer of my junior year in college I took a job as a door-to-door salesman for the Fuller Brush Company. My mother had just lost a long battle with cancer, and I wanted to earn enough money to have a photo of her turned into a painted portrait to give to my dad.

What I earned depended entirely on what I sold; there were no guarantees. Things went well at first, but then I hit a long bad streak. Hardly anyone was home and those who were just weren’t buying. What’s worse, some people were outright rude and literally slammed their doors in my face.

I was on the verge of quitting, but something my father used to tell me over and over stopped me: “Where there’s a will, there’s a way; where there’s not, there’s an alibi.” I had always resented this simplistic mantra, but suddenly I got it.

I realized that every meaningful opportunity in life would stay behind closed doors that would never open unless I knocked on them. Beneath this simple insight was another: If I couldn’t muster the confidence and courage to knock on more doors despite the certainty of frustrating and unpleasant experiences, I would never make it.

I earned enough to buy the portrait, and it now hangs next to another one of my dad in the lobby of the Joseph and Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics, a nonprofit organization I founded in their honor.

I’m so glad my dad taught me to persist and grateful I learned that an important part of character is to just keep knocking.


This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

Comments 1

  1. Dear Sir,

    I am always happy whenever I read your stories especially the ones that have to do with personal events like this one. It really shows how humble beginnings help to shape ones life. Keep the good work going. Congrates on “What Will Matter”.

    I was surprised to read from you that you were in Nigeria. Please let us know about your visits before the event so we can plan and attend.

    Chinelo, Lagos, Nigeira

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