In 1999 I was living in North Dallas and a friend invited me to join them for church at Prestonwood Baptist in Plano, TX. They hinted that they had a surprise for me but shared no further details.
As we approached the church I was blown away with the facility. Prestonwood sits on 150 acres and includes a K-12 private school complete with football and baseball fields. That however was not the surprise.
As we walked into the large Sunday school classroom my eyes scanned around and fell on an older gentleman at the front of the room. He was sharply dressed and waited patiently as the few remaining guests were finding their seats. He then called attention to the room with a friendly “good morning”.
I had been studying Zig Ziglar’s books and listening to him on audio tapes for years but to see and hear him in person brought tears to my eyes. My mind flashed back three years to a trip back to Dallas from visiting my family in East TX. I had popped in a cassette tape given to me by one of my best friends and the message that came out changed my life.
Zig Ziglar in his most unique style touched my heart when he 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.”
He also said:
“You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.”
I had never heard of Zig and I had never been exposed to those two very profound ideas. I was so moved by his words that I pulled off on the side of the road to write them down. At 28 years old, I was doing okay. I had a good job in sales, living in the big city of Dallas, TX but to say I was living my “dream” life would be far from the truth.
Zig’s simple message gave me so much hope because I could absolutely choose to spend time further developing myself through the written word and through “automobile university”. I could also to a large degree choose the type of people I associated with.
Fast forward to the present and Zig has been gone to be with the Lord since November of 2012. In 2003 I also started attending Prestonwood and had the good fortune to visit his Sunday school class on a number of occasions. Further, I would see Zig and his lovely wife Jean in service on a weekly basis.
To date I have read or listened to Zig on audio for 100’s of hours and he has forever changed and influenced my life with his message of hope and encouragement.
As a Christian businessman he was a tremendous example of taking your Faith into the marketplace in the right way and impacting lives for the positive.
As a husband and father, he built a family and cared for them in a way that set a standard for what a successful Christian family should be.
As a personal development mentor, he taught me the value of attitude, persistence, belief, goal setting, and never ending improvement through daily intentional education.
I miss Zig and will continue to study his works with no end in sight. Like other masters of the personal development field such as Napoleon Hill and Dale Carnegie, his message is timeless and will be forever relevant and applicable to anyone seeking to improve themselves and serve their fellow man.
Action Steps for My Readers:
For all the wisdom that Zig shared over the years, his teachings on Attitude, Goal Setting, and Continuous Personal Development impacted me the strongest.
Attitude: Zig believed attitude was a skill to be developed and it took a daily discipline.
Most people claim to have a “positive” attitude and yet they’ve never read the first book or taken a course on attitude. Attitude is a choice and it comes from within. It is not based on outside circumstances.
If you live your life allowing outside circumstances to determine your attitude, you will live life on a roller coaster. Decide today to develop a positive attitude then go to work daily to make that a reality. The books you read (or don’t read) and the people you associate with will largely determine your outcome in life…including your attitude.
Feed your mind with the positive and guard your associations carefully. These two choices will make or break you.
Goal Setting: The highest achievers in life are always masters of goal setting. Zig was a huge proponent of setting goals in all areas of your life. For years I’ve personally divided my goals into the areas of Faith, Family & Friends, Finance, and Fitness. For a goal to be valid is needs to written down and “SMART”:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attractive (the real “why” behind the goal)
R – Realistic
T – Timely
While Zig was a big believer in setting goals, he also taught only targeting a few goals at a time. Consider for each quarter of the year 3 major goals that will most impact your life. Then determine the monthly, weekly, and daily steps that need to occur to make these goals a reality. The is great power in focus and chasing after more the 3 major goals at a time will typically result in only diluted efforts.
Continuous Personal Development: Zig was a life long learner and routinely read for an average of 3 hours a day in his Golden Years. While most of us don’t have the time to physically read for hours a day, through the use of “Automobile University”, you can still over a period of time take in a tremendous amount of information.
Consider that you have a 30 minute commute to and from work five days a week. That’s 1 hour a day 50 weeks a year for a total of 250 hours. This equates to 6.25 (40) hour work weeks of education of your choice.
Most people under value small blocks of time. By listening to audio books in your car, while dressing in the morning or cooking dinner at night, you could easily double this number. Ask yourself…how much difference would roughly 3 months of extra education in what ever subject do for you and your career? Or your home life?
In closing, I encourage you to take control of your attitude, live your life on principle and commitment with firmly established goals, and never stop working to improve yourself.
Life is not a dress rehearsal. You only get one shot. Make the most of it.
Next up in my Mentor Series: John Maxwell