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From Home Furnishing Business

Coach's Corner: Some Words of Wisdom About How to Be Successful

By Tom Zollar,

This month we celebrate forty up and coming people in our industry that are under the age of 40 years old. In last year’s July issue we presented some ideas about leadership from a great leader, General H. Norman Schwarzkopf. He felt that the key to our country succeeding in the 21st century would be our ability to develop leaders that would guide the evolution and development of all segments of government, society and the economy. It was an appropriate topic for us to address since indeed, these young people represent our industry’s future and will be the ones driving its success in the decades to come.

This year, I decided to take a similar approach and present some ideas about how we can be more successful both as leaders and individuals from an expert in that area, the great Zig Ziglar. He was truly one of the most gifted teachers and trainers we have ever seen, and his central message almost always dealt with helping people succeed at whatever they try to do. He made everyone he touched better for the time they spent listening to him speak. Today we have the ability to search for him on YouTube and get hours of wonderful exposure to his wisdom and wit.

I had the opportunity to see him live along with General Schwarzkopf and other great speakers at the “Success 1993 Seminar,” my boss took all of his direct reports that year. His message still rings as strong and true today as it did then, so I have decided to share some of the main points he made from my notes of that event. I have often used his powerful and thought-provoking statements as topics for training sessions, sales meetings and other presentations. They never fail to get the listener’s attention and elevate their ability to better understand what it takes to be successful in their life. Perhaps they will make a difference for you and the people you lead.

Here is what Zig had to say that day 25 years ago with my comments about what I think it means in our lives:

  • Success is a matter of character – Claim the qualities you want to have as yours, talk to yourself about success and you will succeed. At the center of any successful effort are the attributes of positive attitude and strong commitment, which are core elements of character. Create a vision of what you want to be, so you can plan a path to where we want to go, then coach yourself along the way.
  • The choices you make in life are what is important. But don’t give up. Only less than 2 percent of scholarships in the U.S. go to athletes. The number one reason people fail is not the choices they make, but the fact that they give up. The choices you make are critical at every turn in your life but giving up is the real killer.
  • Where you start does not matter, it is where you want to go that really matters. How often have you heard a success story about someone that rose above a tough early life to achieve great things? Those people found a way to gain strength and determination from their situation that created an attitude, commitment and vision to succeed. Instead of a negative they turned it into a positive that drove them down their personal path to the future they desired.
  • The way you see the future is what is most important. Your personal vision of what the future holds has far more impact on what will actually happen to you than anyone else’s. So, do not be overly worried or influenced by what others say will happen. Be true to yourself and your perception of your future.
  • Do not let the economy or the media determine or dictate your success. News about the economy and opinions about the state of the world put forth by our media pundits or politicians have become some of the major negativity drivers we have today in our society. We are constantly bombarded by bad news, plus visions of doom and gloom today. Social media in particular tends to cause a great deal of not very positive interactions or opinions to become mainstream topics of conversation. Successful people can tune out these distractions and stay true to their course.
  • How you view yourself is important, do not blame others – If I chose to overeat, I chose to be fat. This one is critical because it is how we perceive ourselves that drives most of our decisions, which in turn controls how we behave. This self-image is the key factor in our view of the world and can lead us to success or failure. Strong people succeed by being honest with themselves and weaker ones fail because they lie to themselves. What you see is what you get!
  • Plan, prepare and expect, because what you put in your mind will most likely happen. This simple truth is central to every great performance we ever see or produce. No artist, athlete, businessperson or musician succeeds without first creating a plan to achieve the result they want, getting themselves properly prepared to execute their plan and then visualizing/believing they will achieve the outcome they want throughout the process. You must have all three ingredients to make it happen.
  • Increased vocabulary = Increased I.Q. This has proven to be the case. Words are how we express ourselves and the more of them we know and properly understand, the better we can think and the more able we are to communicate our thoughts to others. They are the most important tool we have in life and we need all we can fit in our toolbox to be as successful as we can be.
  • You must value and demonstrate commitment in order to succeed. Make a list of what you want to do then do it without fail. Lots of people make to do lists that are never completed because they lack the strength of commitment to get it done. Don’t tell yourself or others you are going to do something and then not do it. Here he used his famous analogy about the Kamikaze pilot about to leave on his 39th mission – was he really committed?
  • Wisdom is the correct use of knowledge. Many people gain a great deal of knowledge in life but fail to demonstrate wisdom because they don’t consistently apply what they know to what they do. Having a strong connection between what you have learned and the actions you take or tell others to take is truly the key to having wisdom.
  • You must have the courage to implement wisdom. As an extension of the above point, the reason people sometimes have knowledge but do not do wise things is because they lack the courage to act on what they know to be true. This is a big reason why many managers and leaders fail – they would rather be liked than take the tough actions that need to be done. Ultimately, they end up looking foolish instead of wise.
  • The size of your hope is your real limitation. What a great way to say the obvious. Those who have the most hope, can dream the biggest dreams and as a result create much more positive results than those that have lost hope. As Winston Churchill famously said: “Never give up!”
  • Most people with problems are in some sort of denial. Everyone encounters problems as they go through life. Successful people deal with them and move on while others deny they exist or do not focus on solving them, allowing them to be dragged down by issues that should have been eliminated. You must face your problems, not run from them.
  • The more you express gratitude, the more you will have to be grateful for. Be thankful for the opportunities you have. Get in the habit of reflecting on the good things in your life instead of dwelling on the bad. You will find far more positive than negative if you do and as a result create more successful outcomes for which to be grateful.
  • You most often find what you are looking for. Another basic truism from Zig. Some people don’t know what they are looking for, so they will certainly fail to find it. Others know what they want but fail to look hard enough for it. Having the vision of what you want in mind as you search for it, will most likely help lead you to it.
  • The gift of encouragement is one of the greatest you can give – spread it around. One of the things that great leaders do is consistently motivate people to succeed and the main tool they use on a daily basis to get that done is encouragement. It is the most critical element in keeping people focused and moving in the right direction. It is also what helps people achieve results that they themselves might not have thought where possible. It is the grease that keeps the wheels going around in any team effort – use it liberally. Don’t forget to encourage yourself too.
  • Motivation is the spark that lights the fire of knowledge. I have often written and spoken about the WIIFM principle in human interaction. If you do not answer the question “What is in it for me?” for those you are leading, they will not be motivated to achieve the results you want. That motivation creates the need for knowledge and drives people to seek it out. Once they have it, getting them to use it, thus exhibiting wisdom, will lead to a successful effort far more often than not.

I hope I have done Zig justice with my interpretation of his message here. If you or your staff want to have productive downtime, I highly recommend you search out online videos of his presentations and watch them. Every one of them that I have seen has been well worth the time I took to view it.

Good luck -on your road to success!

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