Zig Ziglar’s Timeless Guide to Motivation

Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”

Last week, at the age of 86, one of the most motivational people in the personal development world passed away.

Zig Ziglar served in the US Navy during World War II and after the war he worked as a salesman. Later on he started writing books and he held seminars and live events on how to become a better salesman and on motivation and self-improvement.

Today, as my own small tribute, I’d like to share five of my own favorite motivational lessons that I have learned from Zig Ziglar.

1. You have to keep the motivation up.

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”

So true for many things in life. It’s not like you can hit a light switch and then you are changed for life. The most meaningful and important things tend to need continued effort.

Now, if you want to start your day with getting your motivation up here are two quick tips:

  • Spend 3 minutes with remembering your successes. If you lose your motivation or it is low in the morning then it is easy to get stuck in looking at your failures and so you get stuck in inaction. So instead, sit down for three minutes and just remember your successes. Let them wash over you and refuel your inspiration and motivation.
  • Make a list of upsides. Take a few minutes to write down all the benefits you will get from achieving something, like for example getting into better shape or making more money. And be sure to include very personal reasons and benefits. Like being able to travel to your dream destination or spend more quality time with your son or daughter. Put that list somewhere where you will see it every day until you reach your dream.

2. Failure is not permanent.

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

It is very easy to start thinking of mistakes or failures like permanent things. Like they are you and you are a failure or loser.

But these things are just like successes not permanent. Things go up and down.

So don’t identify with the failure. Take some time to accept that it happened but try to not beat yourself up about it or make it bigger than it is. You don’t have to be perfect. And no one who tries to go outside of his or her comfort zone can avoid failures, mistakes and low points.

And remember…

3. Learn what you can from your low points.

“If you learn from defeat, you haven’t really lost.”

You only lose when you give up and go home or when don’t learn anything from a defeat.

If you keep going despite bumps in the road and temporary defeats then you are still on your way towards your dream and goal.

So don’t revisit the past too much. Instead, learn what you can from the defeat and keep moving forward.

Ask yourself:

  • What can I learn from this?
  • What do I need to do or not do to avoid winding up the same negative situation again?
  • And what is the hidden opportunity within this situation? (there is often one if you just take a little time to look for it)

4. Look at your world and the people in it through an open and positive lens.

“The way you see people is the way you treat them.”

And the way you treat them they tend to treat you.

Now, you may not become best friends or get along splendidly with everyone.

But with a positive and open attitude towards the world and the people you meet and know you’ll feel more inclined to listen, get to know them better and to help out if you can. And over time things tend to even out. You get back what you give.

For more openness and positivity towards others try these two questions:

What parts of this person can I see in myself? How is he or she like me?

This one can help you to shift your perspective from what is different and what you feel the need to judge to what the two of you have in common instead. It tears down the mental barriers between the two you and you can feel closer to and more understanding and appreciative of this person.

5. Get the ball rolling today.

“If you wait until all the lights are “green” before you leave home, you’ll never get started on your trip to the top.”

You can wait for everything to be just perfect before you get started but that usually results in years passing you by before getting going. Or you may never get started.

Beginning something can of course be scary and uncomfortable as you step into the unknown.

But you can make it a lot easier to get started and to keep going. Here are three of my favorite tips for that (they are my favorites because they are so effective for me):

  • Take one small step forward. Instead of focusing on everything you have to do to reach your goal just focus on taking one small and practical step today. Nothing more. But make it a small step that isn’t just about reading more about what you want. Make it step that matters and pulls you forward. Book an appointment or set up a meeting. Create a budget and see how much and what you can save each month to be able to go on that trip you dream about.
  • Or take an even smaller step. If that first step feels too big and you start to procrastinate then come up with an even smaller step you can take. Then take that step.
  • Just take care of today. Don’t look too far ahead or you may start to procrastinate. Or your mind may play tricks on you and you become worried or scared. To feel more comfortable while still making progress step by step go smaller and focus on just taking care of today. Nothing more. Tomorrow will come in time. And then you will take care of that today too.