We’ll Miss You, Zig

Zig Ziglar died last week.

Very few people I’ve talked to don’t know who he was – even if you didn’t subscribe to his approach to life chances are you could recognize one of his famous quotes or books.  If you don’t know who Zig was check out this link or his web site.

In honor of his memory Forbes put together a “top ten” of his quotes that can change your life; I figured I’d take my favorite five and put The Paul Gillespie Experience commentary on them.  There’s not a whole lot that needs to be added to his quotes – he had a way of encapsulating things down to a sentence or two.  That’s fortunate for my loyal readers who prefer I keep it short; it’s unfortunate for my loyal readers who read this blog because they’re looking to kill time.  My only advice for the latter – read slower.


1) “Remember that failure is an event, not a person.”

This is perhaps the most powerful quote from Zig from my perspective.  Unless you have a rock-solid set of self-confidence you know how easy it is to fall into the “you’re a failure” line of thinking.  Heck – even just this past weekend I was berating myself for being stupid and being a failure.  But that’s not accurate (nor, incidentally, is it helpful in the least).  We all fail at one point or another – whether it’s the fact that we couldn’t walk across the living room without falling down at age nine months (#FAIL), we got shot down when we asked our first crush out in high school (#FAIL) or we got the “we appreciate your interest, but we’ve elected to go a different route” during our job hunt.  If we judge ourselves by whether or not we’ve failed you can post a big ol’ “F” on every single one of our foreheads because we’ve all done it.  But when we recognize that a failure is just an event and not who we are it explains an awful lot about why we’re not still living in caves being concerned about whether the saber-toothed tiger next door has us on the dinner menu for tonight.

2) “There has never been a statue erected to honor a critic.”

I love this quote because it’s so true and it reminds me of one of my favorite Barney Stinson quotes (“Challenge: accepted”).  That’s not to say critics don’t serve a purpose – I have a friend of mine that is seemingly a master at taking the “you can’t/won’t do it” and turning it into “done”.  But the bottom line is that in the final tally you don’t remember who those critics are…because they didn’t actually do anything.  Maybe they got to say “I told you so”.  Maybe they got to predict a major failure.  But those aren’t the things people are remembered for – it’s the success of overcoming challenges that sticks with people.

3) “It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you use that makes a difference.”

<insert smart remark about “size matters” here if you’d like, laugh a little, then come back when you’re done>

Seriously, though – and on a much less sexual plane – this is all about action and what you’re willing to do to get what you want.  It’s easy to point to Oprah Winfrey and say “but she’s rich/well-known/outspoken and can get whatever she wants; I’m poor/a nobody/quiet so I can never get what I want”.  That’s what we call a cop-out.  You may not have the resources Oprah does, but keep in mind she didn’t, either (she was born to unmarried teenage parents, was abused as a child, was pregnant at 14 and started her career as a grocery store worker…who wasn’t allowed to talk to customers).  What determines success isn’t what you’ve got but how you’re willing to use it.

4) “A goal properly set is halfway reached.”

This is one of the most fundamental quotes of Zig’s, at least for me.  I used to be probably the single worst person at setting goals.  They were vague, squishy and passive desires surrounded by a wrapper of good intentions.  That’s not the way you set a goal…or at least one you hope to actually achieve.  Remembering Zig’s advice that setting the goal properly (specific, measurable, actionable, etc.) has kept me on track a number of times.  No longer do I want to “lose weight” – I want to “get my weight down to 190 pounds by January 1”.  And the reason I hit them has a lot to do with how I set them in the first place.

5) “Success is dependent upon the glands – sweat glands.”

I’m a positive person by nature.  I’d rather assume I can do something I want to do than assume I can’t.  I yell at my kids when I hear them say “I can’t do ______” (followed, typically, by them figuring out how to do it).  I like to think in terms of “what’s possible” not “what’s there”.  But being positive about something isn’t worth anything in and of itself; it’s like properly setting the goal – a good start, but nothing more.  If you want to make something awesome happen, be somebody spectacular or have a big impact you’ve got to do more than be positive about.  You have to do more than plan it.  You can’t stop at wanting it – you have to work for it.  You’ve heard story upon story of how somebody achieved something spectacular, but how many of those stories ended simply with that person “wanting” that spectacular thing and then magically getting it?  Exactly – zero (except, perhaps, my winning the Bud Light Cruise this summer…).  The world is not responsible for your success – you are, and that depends on how much you’re willing to work for it.


(post image courtesy of GoChiroPractics.com)

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