Zig Ziglar died today at the age of 86. He was one of my first mentors when I got serious about being an entrepreneur, and figured out that my personal development was a core building block of a successful business.
On the surface, Zig and I don’t have a whole lot in common. He was a very devout Christian, an “old white guy” who could have been my grandfather, and a phenomenal direct salesman. I’m not a Christian, generally don’t look to “old white guys” for inspiration, and I suck at direct sales.
So when I think about how it was that Zig Ziglar had such a profound impact on my life, and the lives of millions of other people, I ironically go back to the “fundamentals” of life that Zig was so fond of talking about.
What made Zig so good at inspiring and motivating people? 3 things immediately come to my mind.
1. Zig Ziglar Was Rags to Riches
Zig’s life story was impossible not to love. He was the 10th of 12 children. He spent most of his early life in a place called Yazoo City, Mississippi. His father died when he was just 6 years old. He lost a younger sister just two days later.
There was definitely no “silver spoon” here. To the contrary, financial success came to Zig against the odds. It also came to him after significant struggle. He wasn’t a natural born salesman. He talks about having the electricity disconnected, and having to turn in a car he couldn’t pay for in those early years.
He wasn’t a natural born influencer. His career as a motivational speaker came later in his life. His first book wasn’t published until he was 49 years old.
When you look at Zig’s rise to the top, the story that unfolds tells a tale of perseverance, hard work, and discipline. Why did Zig’s story motivate so many? Because it lays out a path that’s doable for all of us. Success doesn’t require anything “secret.”
2. Zig Ziglar Taught Life Lessons
I own most every motivational audio program Zig ever put out. And when I think about them, one thing leaps to the top of my mind ~ stories.
Zig tells the best stories. While others “lectured,” Zig told stories. And not just for the sake of telling stories. Each of his stories has multiple life lessons. Most of Zig’s stories cause you to laugh out loud. In part because of his unique story-telling style. What’s better than learning while you’re laughing?
Telling your stories is all the rage in the online marketing world these days. Many people, me included, talk about how important sharing your stories with your market is to your success as an online businessperson. Zig shared his stories like no one I’ve ever seen. He had a lot of stories because he lived a lot of life. And he told those stories with a very unique flare. You would do well to study his stories and the way he told them. It will help you find your unique voice.
3. Zig Ziglar Was Authentic
Well, so what? So many people are their authentic selves these days. Dennis Rodman, with his orange hair, multiple piercings, and flamboyant tattoos is authentic. Howard Stern with his controversial and outspoken opinions is authentic. Good for them for expressing themselves in a way that appeals to so many.
But Zig Ziglar was authentic in a way that can’t help but appeal to everyone. You could just tell that Zig was exactly the same in his personal life as he was on stage, on audio, and in his books. And his personal friends attest to it.
Zig met his wife, Jean, when he was 17 years old and she was 16. They married two years later, and celebrated their 66th honeymoon just days before his death. (Zig preferred “honeymoon” to “anniversary” because it was more fun). He affectionately referred to his wife as “the red head,” and she was the subject of many of his stories. He never appeared on the front page of any magazine as the subject of some scandalous affair. Who couldn’t love this fairy tale?
In 2007, Zig fell down a flight of stairs. The result was a brain injury that gave him short-term memory loss. It didn’t stop him, and he didn’t try to hide it. In fact, he wrote a book with his daughter about life after the fall. He continued to make appearances, often with his son Tom at his side.
There was a realness that shone through in Zig that many of us strive for, but very few succeed in pulling off. Yet for him, it just seemed to come natural.
Because of his unique way with words, perhaps more than anyone, Zig Ziglar leaves a legacy of quotes that will certainly influence the masses for generations to come. Here are some of my favorites:
“The chief cause of failure and unhappiness is trading what you want most, for what you want right now.”
“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have twenty-four hour days.”
“Attitude, not Aptitude, determines Altitude.”
“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”
“When obstacles arise, you change your direction to reach your goal; you do not change your decision to get there.”
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”
“Outstanding people have one thing in common: an absolute sense of mission.”
“You can have everything in life that you want if you just give enough other people what they want.”
“Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. Capitalize on what comes.”
“It was character that got us out of bed, commitment that moved us into action and discipline that enabled us to follow through.”
“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.”
“The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you think you can only do a little.”
“The more you are grateful for what you have the more you will have to be grateful for.”
“You were born to win, but to be a winner you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win.”
“Make failure your teacher, not your undertaker.”
“Confidence is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you.”
“You cannot consistently perform in a manner which is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.”
“Failing is an event, not a person. Yesterday ended last night.”
“Motivation gets you going and habit gets you there.”
“When you are tough on yourself, life is going to be infinitely easier on you.”
Thanks Zig. I miss you already. Please share your favorite Zig Ziglar quotes and memories with me in the comments below.