Lessons from Zig – The Power of Words



Zig Ziglar is one of the most emulated presenters in society today.  Many believe it was he, with his unique cadence and physical style of speaking, who first developed this inspiring way to deliver words which push us into action and move us to accomplishment.  Mr. Ziglar utilized voice inflection to make his points and he commanded the English language and southern colloquialisms to engage his listeners.  He studied, studied, & studied the art of delivery, and as a result he is considered by many today to be the Father of motivational speaking.

Recognized by his peers as the quintessential motivational genius of our times, Zig Ziglar’s unique delivery style and powerful messages have earned him many honors, and today he is considered one of the most versatile authorities on the science of human potential. 10 of his 28 books have been on the best-seller lists, and his titles have been translated into more than 38 languages and dialects.” Dan Schawbel, Forbes


A World of Imitation and Manipulation

I’ve been thinking about his accomplishments, his uniqueness and character, and comparing that to other speakers, presenters, and leaders in the world. How is what Mr. Ziglar did different? With all the voices and words available via the internet, blogs, social media, countless workshops and books, how can we identify what really is pure?

Today motivational speaking has developed a reputation of focusing on the person on the platform as celebrity and expert; someone who has achieved much and to whom we should follow.  I’ve noticed that many people see a “platform” as a way of saying fluffy words to make their audiences do something that they don’t want to do.  Some have even gone so far as to shadow others, mimicking their articulation and delivery so they can call themselves a credible leader.


A Better Way

Mr. Ziglar was different. He used his platform to truly help people.  The purity of his motives and desires are unlike any before or after him.  He did not use his words to manipulate his listeners to do something that would benefit him alone.  He wanted to push others to a new level.  Because of his purity he sustained a reputation that is still squeaky clean to this day.

The power of words was never more apparent then when he used them.  He related to people so he could motivate them to become better!  That was what the “pioneer of motivational speaking” was all about.  His purpose was to help people grow and grow as much as THEY wanted.  He understood that his words had power and took it very seriously that people were listening to him.  He selected each word carefully and enunciated them with precision.  Even after years and years of experience speaking, he went to great lengths to study three to four hours before each of his “talks” (what he liked to call his speeches) because, to him, WORDS mattered!


Over 40 Years of Powerful Words

204925_1661605468875_3955856_oHow do I know they matter?  I would love to relive the times and have you join me as I accompanied Mr. Ziglar through airport terminals, hotel lobbies, or after he finished one of his “talks.”  The line of people waiting for him was endless.  He made it a point to STOP and LISTEN to every story they wanted to share. One of the major themes were testimonies of the WORDS he had spoken, sometimes over 30 years earlier, on a sales audiotape they had barely scraped up enough money to purchase.

I often witnessed this conversation, “Zig, you said _____ and when I heard it, I was in debt, my relationship was broken, and I was a miserable person.  But I went home and applied what you said, I became a millionaire, I’m still married to my wife, and now I have a fulfilling life.”

Folks, it was just words…but it changed lives! Really? Yes, Really!!  Many other people say similar things, but they do not have this kind of influence.


Zig Ziglar is still a trending topic on Twitter even though he has not uttered a new word since Nov of 2012.  

ziglar_wordsHow can this be?  Mr. Ziglar knew the reason and I’d like to offer an explanation:

When someone has a pure motive to inspire you to be YOUR very best, you know it.  Even if you are skeptical about the science of motivation, the concepts are still being absorbed by your spirit.  You can trust the words that are being spoken because the man can be trusted since he is not motivating you for something that benefits him financially.  So when these two worlds collide, a pure heart and motivating words, there is transformational change in the person who applies it to their daily life.



  1. Make sure your motives match your words. People are not stupid and will eventually catch up to empty words and promises. Impure intentions will leave your listeners feeling empty and you will have lost your influence in their lives.
  1. When you have a genuine desire to see people growing and accomplishing THEIR purpose without strings attached, what you envisioned for them will come to fruition.  There will be healthy people to whom you have invested, growing toward their purpose.  Your influence will last as long as you keep your motives pure and understand why you are doing what you’re doing.
  1. Since you’re doing the right things for the right reasons you will be able to apply one of Mr. Ziglar’s favorite quotes.  I heard him say this a million times: “You can have everything in life you want if you just help enough other people get what they want.”
  1. Our words have power to EMpower.  On an average day a woman uses 20,000 words and man uses 7,000.  The words we speak give us amazing opportunity.  We can be the catalyst that propels people to greatness.  Let’s use words with the pure intention of seeing others become great. Doing so will enable us to hear stories of how we are impacting lives.


In Closing

Everyone is looking for a simple yet effective way to grow and become significant. When you lose your credibility because of imitation or reckless words, you have lost your ability to speak into the lives of searching people.

You can have everything in life you want if you help enough other people get what they want. 

I would love your thoughts and comments. What have you noticed in terms of speakers and their words?

And how do you use your words to positively impact others?




2 thoughts on “Lessons from Zig – The Power of Words

  1. Jay,
    i once again enjoy your writing and your inspiration. I agree with your premise of the importance of words.
    God created all that exists with His Words, and we are created in His image.
    May you continue to use your words to bring clarity to those of us who are in the midst of attempting to discern Truth in a tsunami of voices!
    and hug Jill for me on her birthday, karen

  2. Jay,

    I can pinpoint a single day, a single book, a single moment with a stream of tears, that I decided to change my ways. It didn’t happen quickly. Over the course of years I still faltered and strayed and mishandled opportunity but I’ve never, since that day in 1993, stopped thinking about See You at the Top. Not any exact words or section, but the spirit of that book…the hope I felt while reading it and at no point did I feel I was being “sold” something.

    Keep sharing your stories Jay. It feels like I’m getting to know a side of Zig I didn’t get to hear in his audio or read in his books (though I felt I knew him through his genuineness, which became very clear after being born again). I was so sad when he passed and yet I’ve never even met him. HOW does someone impact your life that way? I think this story you’ve shared has summed it up. Again, I thank you.

    I’ve learned this prayer from Zig himself (I believe he was referencing one of his mentors at the time)…

    “Lord, help me to be a Zig Ziglar today. Amen”


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