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How to Become a Winner: Life Lessons from the Late Zig Ziglar

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At first glance, he seemed a simple man—a guy in a nice suit with a Bible in his briefcase, a notebook in hand and a perpetual smile on his face. But first glances can be deceptive. Because this simple man inspired literally millions worldwide.

And recently when Zig Ziglar—best-selling author, master of motivation and Dave’s good friend—passed away at the age of 86, we lost a national treasure.

“I’ll never forget the energy he poured out on that stage,” Dave said. “I’ll never forget how I came away being inspired. I was thinking, ‘Man, if I could just do a tenth of that, it would be awesome.’ He was always lifting people up, showing them a better way.”

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Lifting people up for sure. In his lifetime, Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar traveled more than 5 million miles spreading his you-can-do-anything message. During his 40-plus-year career, he met with presidents and other world leaders as well as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. But that was just the start. He wrote more than 29 books, many that were best-sellers, and left behind countless motivational tapes and videos.

Several years ago, Dave had the honor of meeting Zig and interviewing him. Their conversation included several life and business lessons from Zig, which we are sharing with you today in memory of this great man who never had a bad day.

Be an Optimist

In any situation, Zig believed you have choice. You can look for the good or the bad, and he always saw the best in everything. Never once did he have an advanced case of “stinkin’ thinkin’,” as he liked to call it. “I’m so optimistic, I’m the kind of guy who would go after Moby Dick in a rowboat and take the tartar sauce with me. […] When you look for good anywhere, you will start to find it everywhere,” he told Dave.

Never Stop Learning

An enthusiastic learner, Zig read at least three hours a day. He said learning dramatically increases your productivity and creativity, and it equips you for any situation. “The educated person of today is prepared for a world that no longer exists,” Zig said. “It’s only the constant student who is preparing for the future. You’ve got to keep on learning.”

Stay Prepared

Although Zig gave the same presentations thousands of times, he never stopped refreshing his speeches, spending three to five hours of rehearsals before any presentation. He believed it gave him his edge. “You need to be always prepared for today, not what happened yesterday,” he said.

Act With Integrity

Zig believed that integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without it, you’ll never be one. “Live and act with integrity, and you will not only have genuine success but the peace of mind that goes with having a clear conscience,” Zig said.

For Zig, his joy came from what he did for other people, not what he could do for himself. At the end, he must have been delighted indeed. For more than four decades, he taught us to be better human beings. What a legacy to leave.

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