23 Motivating Lessons from Zig Ziglar

Photo Credit: Becca Puglisi, Rainbow Mountains ~ What makes you reach for the sky?

Photo: WANA Commons – Becca Puglisi, Rainbow Mountains ~ What makes you reach for the sky?

Several years ago, I went to a motivational seminar and saw Zig Ziglar live. Two words: Life Changing.

He wasn’t a young man by any means but he was the guy with the most energy and enthusiasm. I’ve never figured out how he could be animated and humble, fun and motivating, all at the same time but it was a gift just to watch him.

I found my notes from his long-ago talk and wanted to share them with you.

23 Gems from The Zig. Everyone one of them makes me smile.

  1. 90 percent of doctor’s visits are due to stress.
  2. The relationships that you have are most important – more than all other things combined.
  3. The more things you have that money won’t buy, the more things you’ll have that money will buy.
  4. Take what you already have to offer. When you recognize and use what you already know, you will be able to use these things to succeed.
  5. How you see yourself is what makes the biggest difference in the performance of your life.
  6. When you change your attitude and tell yourself positive messages, your life will change. A negative approach to life will reinforce what you CAN’T do. You need to be sure that you emphasize your talents, at least to yourself. You will get further.
  7. Every third person is remarkable handsome. Why can’t you be that third person?
  8. If you are somebody to anybody, then you are somebody.
  9. If we can make Pencillin out of moldy bread, then God can make something amazing out of you.
  10. You have to plan to win, prepare to win and expect to win.
  11. Your dreams are very important.
  12. A priority driven life is what you need to have.
  13. You need a balanced goal program: Physical, spiritual and mental.
  14. Work like you’re going on vacation every day.
  15. Find out things that you don’t know.
  17. Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.
  18. Do everything with integrity so that you have nothing to hide.
  19. God on the mountaintop is the same as God in the valley.
  20. Overcome the perception of what people think you are and embrace the reality of what you can become.
  21. You  have to throw different pitchers to different batters.
  22. Understand the difference between refusal and rejection. When someone refuses you, they are saying they don’t know. No one can reject you unless you let them. You’ll go do your thing somewhere else.
  23. Communication is about heart.

Do you have a #24 to add to this list of wisdom? Which one is your favorite? What’s the most memorable piece of “life advice” you’ve heard lately? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!

~ Jenny

About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm (http://writersinthestormblog.com). Write on!
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37 Responses to 23 Motivating Lessons from Zig Ziglar

  1. Laura Drake says:

    Love this, Jenny – my favorite is #4.

    You already know my mantra. It’s from Randy Pausch:

    “Brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”


  2. Jane Sadek says:

    Yup, Zig was good. Along the same lines, have you ever heard Shad Helmstetter? Blows my socks off every time I hear him and I usually end up blubbering like a baby. And thank you. A does of Shad and Zig is just what the doctor ordered for me. I’m going to go dig out my tapes and CD’s. Old technology maybe, but still just as powerful.


  3. Sherry Isaac says:

    Thanks for making this list, Jenny.

    I heard a sermon years ago, wonderful and akin to a bedtime story. The gist? Beautiful stained glass windows, the kind that make a picture, are made from broken shards.


  4. My favorite from Zig? Of those listed, Number 5. I suffered from debilitating “not good enough” and “not as good as” co-dependency for years. Everyone’s moods were about me, me, me. My fault. My job to fix. It was exhausting, self-defeating, and delusional.

    I face major changes in my life. There are two sayings that have become my mantras. I repeat them when I get frustrated or blue or question what might be perceived as selfish decisions.

    Build your life around who you are rather than who people expect you to be, so you don’t have to escape your life to be happy.

    From my aunt, my Dad’s sister, when I took my six week free-to-be-me road trip back to my roots. After spending a heart-wrenching period of time chatting with Dad at his grave, I returned to her house. She said I looked more relaxed than she’d seen me since I arrived and told me to…

    Remember where you came from. Where you are. And, where you want to be.

    Now, I think Dad is giving me a grouchy look. He thinks I should be on over to ALL INN and do some writing

    Thanks for the productivity boost, Jenny!


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You’re welcome, Gloria. And I adored #5 too. How interesting is it that you say, “I suffered from debilitating “not good enough” and “not as good as” co-dependency for years.” When I look at you, all I see is a wealth of love. {{Hugs}}


      • Well, that gave me a bedtime sparkly smile, Jenny.

        EEEE! My star is out tonight. I’ll ping vibes of thanks your way. OH! That co-dependency Adopt-a-Mood-and-Problem Agency? I’m over that now.


  5. Julie Glover says:

    Zig Ziglar always seemed almost too happy for me. 😛 I tend to quote curmudgeonly yet insightful folk like Mark Twain and Winston Churchill. For instance:
    “Do the right thing. It will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” – Twain
    “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” – Churchill


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      LOL…he is pretty happy, but I liked it. Still a nice snarky wise man is a find too, and Twain and Churchill fit that bill. That Churchill quote is one of my faves. 🙂


  6. K.B. Owen says:

    I love this, Jenny! I’d never heard of Ziglar before. You always have the coolest motivational stuff for your Cowbell posse!

    As far as anything to add, I am reading the most amazing book called: Mindset: the Psychology of Success, by Dr. Carol Dweck. http://www.amazon.com/Mindset-The-New-Psychology-Success/dp/0345472322. The principal at my son’s middle school had her entire staff read it this summer. It’s very approachably written, and uses anecdotes along with the research and findings they are making in the power of the growth mindset, vs. the fixed mindset. Apparently, their discoveries are blowing away the assumptions that psychologists and other experts have had regarding giftedness, talent, creativity, and learning – what people are born with, what abilities we can develop, how we handle challenges differently, and so on. It explains a lot, too, about the thinking of the fixed mindset, and why so many smart, talented people play it safe and don’t take opportunities to challenge themselves for fear of failing. It explains the trap of thinking in terms of “failure” instead of “challenge,” and the dangerous concept of one test defining a child’s lifetime potential (IQ or otherwise) – which we are seeing all-too-often in our current “No Child Left Behind” testing climate. I’m already implementing some of this in my own life, and in my parenting.


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      WOW, Kathy! That book sounds tremendous, and what a very smart school system you have. This teaching to the tests that we do in California doesn’t seem like it teaches the kids what they need to know. I’ll totally look into that book. As a parent and educator, I thank you. 🙂


  7. Amy Shojai says:

    One of my fav books was a gift from my sister-in-law, it’s called WALKING ON ALLIGATORS….oh wow, just found it on amazon here: http://www.amazon.com/Walking-Alligators-Book-Meditations-Writers/dp/0062507583/ And my my fav quote is, “I knew I was a writer when I made that declaration in the closet of my soul.”


  8. Oh, number 5…I need to write this on the wall of my office!! Thanks, Jenny. 🙂


    • Jenny Hansen says:

      Me too, Coleen, me too. The ones in the bold blue were the ones I loved the best too. Although what can be more profoundly simple than: “You have to throw different pitches to different batters.”


  9. tomwisk says:

    Thanks, I needed that today.


  10. filbio says:

    So many of these ae right on the money! I really like #16 and 17. They are all good.


  11. I had a guru crush on Mr. Ziglar in middle school. *sigh* Love these tips! Hmm… No wonder you’re so darn likable. 😉 I might add prioritizing passionate pursuits over other life/career deciding factors, including money.


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  13. Mr. Zig. Why does that make me want to zag? Forget picking a favorite. I need to apply ALL of his suggestions. We are always working on ourselves. I would be worried if we weren’t. But we do need to be happy with who we are and what we’ve accomplished. It’s just too defeating not to. It’s a constant struggle to find the right balance in a negative world. Thanks for sharing your notes Jenny! 🙂


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  15. Marcia says:

    I’m forwarding this list to my daughter. She’s been struggling emotionally and could use another dose of inspiration from someone other than me, for a change. #5 will definitely hit home for her. Thanks for sharing, Jenny


  16. Emma says:

    Great positive advice. Thanks, Jenny.


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  20. I have two favorites. Well…#5 would have to be reworded a bit for me. I never felt like I wasn’t good enough. It was more of a ‘not as good as,’ but one day I just realized I was me, I liked me, and I didn’t ever have to compare myself to anyone. Some days I still struggle with it, but usually not.

    The second one is #20…Overcome the perception of what people think you are and embrace the reality of what you can become. Writers, and other artists, can be a little – different, and there are still people in my life that don’t ‘get’ me. But I’m okay with that because I’m happy with much of my life and the choices I make. I continue to work at being the best me I can be, which is a major pain most of the time because it’s pretty easy to settle in where I am, but then I’m never content there very long so I guess I’ll look at it like short vacations when I’m stuck in the rut. 🙂

    Best advice I ever got? The first time you get married, go for a rich old guy with one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. Unfortunately, I ignored that advice…and lived to regret it. 😀


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