I’ll begin with a question: If I told you that if you do your therapy exercises for a couple of hours every single day, every week, for weeks and months, for several years – and as a result, you’d only have a 10% chance of recovery, would you do them? Suppose I told you that not doing your therapy exercises at all would result in a 0% chance of recovery?
I do not know for certain if those are the real odds, but I find the 0% number unacceptable. Therefore, I choose to take the 10% and hope for more.
I spent my work career in corporate sales and marketing. For those of you who don’t know what that means, imagine if you started every work day knowing in advance that 90% or more of your work would result in failure. And that’s if you are lucky. Most of your efforts would be wasted. Could you live with that? Sales and marketing people live that every day of their careers. The fact is that most people aren’t buying what you’re selling. The people that aren’t buying aren’t always polite when it comes to telling you so, either. So, there is no shortage of failure and disappointment in the sales and marketing game.
When training sales reps, the first order of business is to drill these odds into their heads. They must accept and even embrace failure and disappointment, or the psychological impact will destroy them and their careers in very short order. By the way, if your failure rate (the number of people that you approach that will reject your offer) is only 9 out of 10 in sales, you’re a superstar. The failure rate is usually much higher. That’s why salespeople get paid so much when they are successful.
Sales is a great metaphor for stroke recovery. The odds of dramatic recovery after the first few months are against you. My neurologist says so, everything I’ve read says so, and many of my fellow stroke survivors seem to have permanent disabilities many years after their strokes. However, some people recover completely, or almost completely. What makes these people different?
Successful Sales Reps
A successful sales rep has discipline. He gets out there and faces the shitty odds of success and sells all day, every day, no matter what. That rep has a defined goal for each day – a written goal. That rep methodically goes down the list of things that must be accomplished before the day is done. Those tasks are completed despite being difficult and uncomfortable. The successful sales rep knows that the payoff is that the end (in weeks, months or years) and the effort will be worth it. Well…maybe worth it. There is always a risk that there’ll be no payoff at all.
Successful Stroke Survivors
The successful stroke survivor (one that experiences measurable recovery) has discipline as well. He or she has a written set of therapy exercises that must be accomplished before the day is done. Those exercises are methodically completed despite being difficult, uncomfortable or even somewhat painful. He or she does them every single day, without fail, over weeks, months and years. The successful stroke survivor faces the shitty odds of recovery and accepts them. Yes, there is always a risk of no payoff at all. Then again, huge success is also possible. You just might be one of those people that experience dramatic or complete recovery. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
A 10% chance of recovery? Sign me up, I’ll take those odds any day. It’s a lot better than being a “Zero.”
Be a 10% ‘er.