The Zen of Zig

“You never know when a moment and a few sincere words can have an impact on a life.” Motivational author and speaker, Zig Ziglar, recently passed away at age 86, and through his words, his life will live on. Twitter has been abuzz with his quotes, perhaps seen by a younger audience unfamiliar with his books. In our culture of instant gratification and entitlement, Ziglar’s ideas on selling, attitude, and people skills are needed more than ever to attain success in business and personal endeavors.

In my youth, I’m sure I found his well-known inspirational quotes meaningful whether or not I put them into practice. Once I started in retail sales, my trainers quoted his gems often. As I was eager to advance in my new career, I integrated Ziglar’s words into my success strategy. “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” And, “People don’t buy for logical reasons. They buy for emotional reasons.” These quotes were good reminders of how to conduct business and yes, I benefitted.

Ziglar wrote over thirty books. The ones I saw didn’t seem very different from one another–each espoused his theories on how to negotiate your way to success using many of the techniques I had found useful in Dale Carnegie’s classic, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” Ziglar stated his similar view: “If you go looking for a friend, you’re going to find they’re very scarce. If you go out to be a friend, you’ll find them everywhere.” Ziglar’s thoughts were echoed by many and he echoed others.

Like Carnegie, Ziglar shared his ideas decades ago, yet his core concepts are not dated. We have come a long way technologically-speaking, however human nature has remained much the same. Make people feel important, liked, respected, etc., and they will confer those attributes onto you. Find out what people need, address their concerns, discover their motivations, find a way to give them what they want–and guess what? You’ll get what you want, too. It’s simple–people like doing business with people they like and who make them feel good. His message was not only about increasing sales, it was about how to get along and treat other people.

Ziglar loved to tell stories to make a point. He related heart-warming tales about overcoming obstacles that ended with a handshake deal and the assurance of a person’s word. Only a few months ago, I remember chuckling to myself in regard to a dated reference in “Secrets of Closing the Sale” and how funny it would sound in a modern business conversation. Times do change. While deals may start with a handshake, the legal paperwork will surely follow. We can update language and situations to suit our needs using his teachings.

Enthusiasm was important to Ziglar, as well as projecting a good attitude–both strong attributes for success. He said, “It is not your aptitude but your attitude that decides your altitude in life.” Enthusiasm is contagious. Negativity and defeatism are turn-offs. These are basic concepts, yet many people haven’t gotten the message. Fortunately, Ziglar’s writings are readily available for those who choose to add positivity to their lives.

Over the years, I’ve absorbed the wisdom behind his quotes, acted upon it in my sales techniques, and passed along my personal experience through writing and speaking. I became so passionate on the topic of giving and receiving, I wrote my own book to include information I hadn’t found elsewhere. Readers and audiences have told me they recognize Ziglar’s influence. I’m glad. Effective communication involves a passionate telling using your own words and stories. Not only am I carrying on Ziglar’s time-tested strategies for the benefit of others, I’m inspired to pursue my personal best. As Ziglar said, “You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.” After all, “Success occurs when opportunity meets preparation.”

Success and lasting change cannot begin and end with 140 character quotes. These fleeting moments of inspirational mind candy dissolve faster than a breath mint. To be successful, you must integrate the thought to belief, and then into action. Repetition and renewal will make an evolving habit. Finish it off with an attitude of gratitude. To sum up, Ziglar said, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” And “Motivation gets you going and habit gets you there.” Ziglar is quoted for good reason. Pick up one of his books to find out why.

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