You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
Howard Books (October 27, 2009)
Zig Ziglar is the president of Zig Ziglar Corporation and has motivated the sales forces of multinational corporations and thousands of individuals. One of the leading stars of the “positive thinking” movement, he is the author of bestsellers See You at the Top, Secrets of Closing the Sale, Success and Self-Image, 5 Steps to Successful Selling, How to Be a Winner, and How to Get What You Want.
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Julie Ziglar Norman is the overly proud mother and grandmother of one son, three daughters, and twelve grandchildren. She lives in Alvord, Texas, with her husband of twenty-six years, Jim Norman; three horses, three rescued dogs and three rescued cats, and she is currently writing her first solo book to be published by Brown Books in 2010.
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List Price: $23.99
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Howard Books (October 27, 2009)
AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:
Zig Ziglar, my father, is in a struggle right now. A struggle so profound and so real that by sharing it with you I believe you will be filled with hope and encouragement. The gift that God has given Dad is the gift of encouragement and the ability to transfer hope to others so that they can rise above whatever circumstance they are in. As Dad has always said, “Getting knocked down in life is a given. Getting up, starting from where you are and moving forward, is a choice.”
On March 7, 2007, our family experienced what Dr. James Dobson calls “a suddenly.” I was out of town when I got the call. I went numb as I listened to my sister Cindy’s voice, “Dad fell down the stairs. He has a serious head injury.” Suddenly, our family joined millions of other families facing similar circumstances and life was very different. Dad, at eighty years of age, lost the vitality he was renowned for; he no longer moved with the energy and agility of a sixty-five-year-old man. Almost overnight he aged fifteen plus years, and thus began his struggle to live with and overcome the effects of a brain injury.
The next weeks were very anxious as we figured out the impact of the accident and the possibilities for recovery. The calendar became filled with doctors and more doctors. Life was changing fast. But the amazing thing was that Dad’s attitude never changed. I knew that he hurt all over from falling down a sixteen step staircase onto a marble floor. I could see that his balance was impaired and that his short-term memory was “really short,” as he likes to say, but still he was as optimistic and, if possible, even more loving than before the fall. As usual, he was more concerned for us than he was for himself.
“Focus on what you can do, not what you can’t do.” I have heard Dad say that hundreds of times. “It isn’t what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens to you that makes the difference.” “Go as far as you can see, then you can see farther.” These are words my father has taught and words he lives by daily. And that is why I’m so excited about this book. Once again my father is using his circumstances, as unfortunate as they may be, to encourage others in their own struggles. As my sister Julie says, he is willing to be transparent, and he continues to write and speak because he wants to show his audiences that life on life’s terms is well worth living. Life may never be the same again but that doesn’t mean it can’t be just as wonderful and fulfilling in an entirely new and different way.
My wish for you as you journey through this book is that you will count your blessings until your gratitude bucket is full, and if you or someone you love is in a struggle, take courage and press on, because, as the Ziglar family has learned, it is in the depths of the struggle that God reveals His eternal blessings.
Embrace the Struggle,
Proud Son of Zig Ziglar
I’m convinced that in the last year the overwhelming majority of people have been struggling with some kind of concern—personal, family, business, health, relationships—you name it. I know I certainly have! It seems these are things that just happen over the course of time. The question is how do you handle struggle?
Through the years I’ve spoken about and written often on how to overcome negative situations, but as a motivational/inspirational speaker and author, I have to admit that I personally have spent the majority of my time focused on how to accomplish the next positive achievement. I believe I have given an honest and realistic picture of how to address struggles in the past but as you know, what we know is a result of what we’ve learned. The things we learn firsthand have a much greater impact on us and better position us to help others deal with similar circumstances. In fact, the Bible tells us this is so; “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of our mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (2 Corinthians 1:3–4 NKJV).
Until now, my greatest life struggle has been dealing with the death of my forty-six-year-old daughter, Suzan. I wrote extensively in Confessions of a Grieving Christian about how I grappled with my grief and how God comforted me. Not surprisingly, that book has been the one of mine that has generated the most letters from readers. Why? Because that topic directly addresses an emotional struggle all of us eventually face in our lives. Generally, you don’t read a book about grief unless you are grieving. And you typically won’t gravitate toward a book on overcoming struggles unless you, or someone you love, are in the midst of a struggle. If you find this to be your case, you my friend, are reading the right book!
I know without a doubt that the personal struggle I’ve been going through since my fall has given me insight that I could not have had otherwise. I’ve been overwhelmed time and time again as I have discovered that the principles I’ve taught through the years apply to my present circumstances more completely than they ever have at any other time in my life. And, amazingly, the simplest concepts of all have proven to be the most applicable life buoys for me.
The pages that follow this introduction are full of inspiring stories of individuals who have faced struggles and not only survived, but live a life far more fulfilling than they ever experienced before their struggle began. Many of the stories come from individuals who, upon hearing about my brain injury, sought to encourage and comfort me with the comfort that God had extended to them during their struggle.
I will share with you the principles and scriptures that have served as lifelines for me and explain how I have applied them to my struggle. You will hear how my struggle has impacted and influenced the lives of my wife, the Redhead (When I’m talking about her, I call her the Redhead. When I’m talking to her, I call her Sugar Baby. Her name is Jean.), my son Tom, my daughters, Cindy and Julie, and my granddaughter Katherine. You’ll also learn how this has impacted my speaking career, my writing and the wonderful staff I’m blessed to have at our company, Ziglar, Inc.
My personal struggle is health related but this book deals with not only the struggle physical limitations create, but also financial, spiritual, family and relationship struggles. This book is about living life on life’s terms. It is about knowing what you can change and what you can’t change and learning how to live your life with an enthusiastic expectation for what is yet to come. Where there is a struggle there is life. For that we can be grateful!
THE FALL AND THE FUTURE
I get lots of ideas when the lights go out at night and it gets very quiet. Sometimes they come when I first lie down to sleep, other times I wake up with an idea racing through my mind, but regardless of when an idea comes, I have made it a habit to get out of bed and write the idea down before it disappears into my dreams. You should do the same. (This book is not really about me and my accident . . . it’s about you having the benefit of my experience, good or bad!)
I’ve also made it a habit not to disturb the Redhead if I can possibly help it and that night was no exception. I quietly slid out of bed and hurried toward my office which is across the hall and to the right of the head of the staircase. As usual, I did not turn on a light. I had traveled that particular path thousands of times in the twenty-two years we’d lived in our home. However, in all of those years I had never accidentally put my left foot down where the second floor ended and the first step down our staircase began! Let’s just say that misstep more than disturbed the Redhead!
Most of what I am writing at this point is information my family filled me in on after the accident. Since I was unconscious for several minutes I have absolutely no recall of what happened after I fell but from what the Redhead tells me she grabbed the phone and dialed 911 as soon as she realized I was tumbling down the stairs. An ambulance was dispatched and help was at the house within a few minutes of my fall.
While the paramedics attended to me the Redhead called our children. By then it was about 10:30 p.m. so seeing our name come up on Caller ID at that hour struck fear into our children’s hearts. And this time, I’m sorry to say, their fear was not unfounded. My son Tom refers to that night as the night he got “the call.” I’m quite sure each of you has had “the call” at one time or another and can relate to what our children were experiencing. I’m grateful that all three of them, including Tom who was out of town, hurried to the hospital to help their “elderly parents”—that is what I call us when I’m about half-teasing and about half-relieved that our kids are hovering around us, willing and eager to help.
Over the next several hours it became apparent that my left side took the brunt of my fall. When I landed at the bottom of the stairs I hit my head on the marble floor and then slammed it against the front door. Please don’t ask for a reenactment—you get the picture! I had to spend a few nights at the hospital so the doctors could monitor the two areas where my brain had a bleed, and I needed some time to get used to the positional vertigo that I began to experience about twelve hours after I fell. Amazingly, I suffered no broken bones, but I can testify that I was one sore and dizzy guy!
What we didn’t know when I finally left the hospital was how seriously my short-term memory had been affected. Sometimes it is nice to be a little clueless. Everyone in the family has had ample time to adjust to the fact that my short-term memory is very, very, short. Now we are all learning how to live with that fact.
Life is change. On March 7, 2007, my life changed completely with one, simple, misplaced step. Some would say it changed for the worse, and by man’s standards they would be entirely right. Fortunately, and I can assure you this is not by chance, the one verse that I’ve written in the majority of books I’ve been asked to autograph, the verse that I believe encourages people most in the midst of their troubles, Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose (KJV), is the verse that allows me to know that God will use this season of my life, difficult though it may be, for His glory and my ultimate benefit.
By man’s standards my fall down the stairs and the vertigo and the brain injury that resulted in my short-term memory loss would seem to dictate an end to my long and much loved career, but I’m here to tell you that even with its problems, life is more inspiring, more intriguing, and more fulfilling than ever. For me, when life does take an unexpected turn, it is somewhat like taking a hike on a new trail; I can’t wait to see what is around the next bend. If the going gets really rocky, I might start hoping smoother ground is just ahead, or that I’m close to the end of the trail where I can take a long desired break from the grueling journey. But my enthusiastic expectation for what is yet to come, for what God has planned for me and my life, never wavers. I trust Him.
I also trust my family. Many years ago I told my family that I was concerned that I might not be able to realize it myself if I started to lose my edge and my speeches were no longer as effective as they should be. I did not want to embarrass myself so I asked them to promise that they would tell me if they ever thought it was time for me to step down from the stage. As I got older and started experiencing some of what I’d call the usual memory loss that happens when we pass the ages of fifty, sixty, and then seventy, the children often checked on me to be sure I was still able to deliver. Thankfully, they were discreet and until after the accident I didn’t even know they had already begun checking me out periodically. They took their assignment seriously and I’m glad they did.
It is true that as I neared the age of eighty, I began to rely on notes to help me keep my place as I was speaking. But I figured that most folks rely on notes by the time they are eighty so I wasn’t at all concerned about how my audience would perceive my occasional pass by the podium to reference my outline. My daughter Julie reviewed the DVD of the Get Motivated Seminar engagement I did in San Bernardino, California on March 6, 2007, the day before my accident and she assures me that I was still completely stage worthy at that point. Unfortunately, my brain injury had such a profound effect on my short-term memory that the ability to reference an outline was beyond me. I could look at the outline but I couldn’t remember the last point that I had made. To add insult to injury, the vertigo I was experiencing made it virtually impossible for me to even walk around the stage safely.
Obviously, I had a real dilemma. I book engagements months and years in advance and there were several engagements pending when I fell. I know companies and individuals alike are negatively impacted if I can’t keep an engagement, so I have always done everything in my power to be where I’m expected. I’ve missed the funerals of my siblings and friends and I’ve spoken when I probably should not have due to illness, but I always felt like my responsibility to show up according to plan was paramount. I can still hear my mother saying, “If a man’s word is no good—he is no good.” I had given my word.
Situations like the one I’m in create circumstances that make a fellow really grateful to have good family relationships. I knew I could count on the help of my family and I got it in spades! The Redhead, Tom, Cindy and Julie enlisted the help of my doctors who were working with me after my accident, as well as the help of my friends and associates, to determine if I should find a way to continue speaking or stay home and concentrate on my writing.
My family was open to seeing how I would progress, but they were concerned about the very real possibility that my vertigo might cause another fall and that traveling would put me in more vulnerable positions than staying close to home would. When they discussed the idea that it might be time for me to retire from public speaking, it was quickly followed by a concern that God might not be done with using me on the stage and none of them wanted to be responsible for suggesting I stop if that was, in fact, the case. However, it was crystal clear that short of an outright miracle I would not be giving the kind of speeches my audiences had come to expect.
The doctors had said that I might recover more of my short-term memory with time as my brain healed but they couldn’t be sure of what the ultimate outcome was going to be. More than a year has passed since my fall and it seems that I have good days and other days. (You know there are no bad days. After all, some people didn’t wake up today and compared to them I’m having a better than good day!) Since I am over eighty years of age we are taking the conservative approach to my medical options. We’re taking our time and applying the good old Ben Franklin approach I’ve taught all these years; divide a page from top to bottom, put positive benefits of procedures/therapies in one column and possible negative outcomes in the other, and we’ll let the obvious, as well as prayer, determine our decisions.
I’ll go into more detail later about some of the therapies, supplements, exercises and medical treatments friends and even clients have suggested and that we’ve tried, but for now I want you to know that we’ve never stopped looking at possible treatments for what ails me. We pray about the treatments and supplements we are told about and if we feel God is leading me to try them, I try them. My doctors remain supportive and encouraging about the possibilities the future holds.
My associates, particularly those who also speak on public platforms, were and still are concerned about me retaining my dignity and going out on top. The thought of me, in many cases, their mentor, performing differently and faltering here and there before an audience is almost unthinkable. I love them for wanting to help me be remembered as I was before the accident. And I love them for personally helping me move ahead, to do what God puts in front of me to the best of my ability.
THE IMMEDIATE SOLUTION
Thankfully, the only speaking engagement that I had to miss immediately after my fall was for my friends and business associates Peter and Tamara Lowe at one of their big Get Motivated Seminars in Houston, Texas on March 13, 2007. After a lot of in-depth examination by no less than five doctors, it was determined that I had retained almost all of the information I have taught over my many years as a speaker and author, and that I was totally “present” when being spoken to. The only new memory problem I had was with the most immediate short-term. When questioned I could answer without any hesitation, but if you asked me what you had asked me when I finished answering the question I could not tell you. Yes, my memory about current events is that short! (You’re probably wondering how this book got written and I’ll tell you—we are both the beneficiaries of the good help I have. Between my executive assistant, Laurie Magers, my editor/daughter Julie Norman and others on my staff, we got it done!)
Since I could recall information when asked, Peter Lowe came up with the idea of changing my speaking format. For years I have been known for my energetic, highly physical speaking style. Some people have even accused me of being more than enthusiastic during presentations. I liked to somewhat live out the stories while I was telling them, and I thought standing stock still behind a podium might block or slow down the words that came flying out of my mouth at the rate of 250 per minute with gusts up to 450. You would naturally assume that it was my vertigo that put an end to all my physical onstage activity, but it really had more to do with the fact that we couldn’t find anyone who felt comfortable chasing me around the stage to ask the next question in our new interview format! Sorry, I couldn’t contain myself.
Sitting down for one-on-one interviews on stage came about through a combination of me being unsteady on my feet and my mind not keeping track of what I’d already said. Peter Lowe interviewed me for the first time in Boise, Idaho on March 27, 2007, just twenty days after my fall but after a few engagements it occurred to him that my associates, Bryan Flanagan and Krish Dhanam, both of whom have shared the Get Motivated Seminar platforms with me on many occasions, might be a better fit for the job. They have both taught my material and they’ve studied it in order to apply it to their lives. They can tell most of my stories almost word for word, and in the event I had trouble recalling any answer to their questions they could help out by prompting me toward the answer or outright supplying the answer if it still eluded me. It made perfect sense to ask them to interview me at the Get Motivated Seminars. Fortunately, they both agreed and with great faith we pressed forward to keep my commitments.
LOVE AND HONOR
Both Krish and Bryan did an excellent job of interviewing me on stage. They carefully laid out their questions so that we could cover several different areas of interest such as the mental, physical, spiritual, financial and relational sides of life. Their goal and mine was to continue to give the audience valuable, applicable, life improving information in an entertaining way.
I cannot express fully the gratitude I have for these two men. Engagement after engagement, they tweaked their questions as they learned better how to deal with my short-term memory. They spent hours and hours working on how to make me look my very best. They learned how to highlight the good and minimize the imperfections that were bound to happen with the kind of brain injury I suffered.
We continued on this course with the public seminars but we had to address what we, as a company, would do about my corporate engagements and about my two day Born to Win seminar that I had hosted since the 1970s. My son Tom was the president of our company at that time (now he is the CEO) and I sorely wish that all the weight of this problem hadn’t fallen squarely on his shoulders, but he handled and continues to handle the business beautifully.
Tom decided that we’d notify the corporations I was scheduled to speak for about my accident and the change to an interview format and let them decide if they wanted to keep their engagement or cancel, and that we would not book anymore corporate events for the foreseeable future. He also decided we would promote the upcoming Born to Win seminar as the final one.
THE LAST BORN-TO-WIN SEMINAR
I know rock stars have farewell tours, sometimes they have one every four or five years, but I had never considered that I might actually “plan” to do any of the things I do for the last time. I’ve always planned to die while I’m still doing what I love doing. When folks say they’ve heard I’m retired, I say with mock surprise, “Retired! Friend, you weren’t listening! I said I was reFIRED! I’m not gonna ease up, shut up, let up or give up, until I’m taken up! Matter of fact, I’m just getting’ warmed up!”
Some people might think that’s reaching a little far for a man who has celebrated the sixtieth anniversary of his twenty-first birthday. (For those of you who are mathematically challenged that means I’m eighty-one years old.) But I am truly the kind of guy who goes after Moby Dick in a rowboat and takes the tartar sauce with him! Which will help you understand that it was with a bit of trepidation that I agreed to the “last” Born to Win seminar.
It wasn’t long before I understood why rock stars have so many farewell tours. They sell out—fast! I was overwhelmed at the immediate response to the announcement. Many who attended Born to Win did so several times through the years. Some brought their employees; others came with their whole family in tow. Larry Carpenter particularly stands out in my mind. He attended forty-five times over twenty-seven consecutive years. His beautiful wife Lisa and their three sons participated more times than I can remember. Larry also financially sponsored nearly 200 people down through the years because he wanted the people he cares about to experience what he experienced there. The last Born to Win was no exception. He brought his whole family and as we’d say down home, a passel of friends to boot! That event was like old home week for the Redhead and me. We got to see so many people whom we’d come to know and love. We were in “tall cotton” the whole time.
Because of my accident, my involvement had been scaled down a great deal but I was scheduled to have three different interview sessions with Krish Dhanam and a great deal of time mixing and mingling with the participants. Krish did the interview the first evening and later fell ill so another long time associate and friend Jill Tibbels agreed to do the Saturday morning interview, which went off exceptionally well. Jill always does an incredible job of anything we ask her to do. That’s just one of the reasons we’re so grateful her association with us spans more than twenty-five years.
Tom came up with the idea of making this final BTW more intimate and special by having a “family” session where the Redhead, Tom, Cindy and Julie joined me on the stage in a living room setting to tell stories about what it was like having me for a husband and father. I often tell people that if I’d known how much fun grandkids were going to be I would have been a whole lot nicer to their parents! I’d like to add that had I known my wife and children would be taking the stage to talk about me . . .
We all had a marvelous time but I suspect my jaw was dropped open most of the time. I had no idea that I had raised so many hams! All three of my children had the audience holding on to their sides. Honestly, I didn’t know that growing up and working with me had provided them with so much funny material! And then the Redhead chimed in and people were almost rolling on the floor. It was as if my family had been saving up for this one occasion. It was all in good, loving fun and the ones I love most in this world did get around to saying that they loved AND respected me, so all’s well that ends well.
ANOTHER UNEXPECTED TWIST
Except, as is often the case, what appears to be an ending is anything but. That afternoon of August 25, 2007, was another beginning for me with my daughter and long-time editor, Julie Norman. I love seeing the hand of Providence in my life. Julie became my editor as a result of having won a place at the bi-annual Writer’s Workshop that Guideposts hosts to develop new talent for their magazine. John and Elizabeth Sherrill, long-time roving editors for Guideposts and well-known co-authors of Corrie Ten Boom’s, The Hiding Place, as well as Brother Andrew’s, The Cross and the Switchblade, noted that Julie was a natural at editing. When Julie told me they, and a few others who were leading the workshop, had commented on her editing ability, I immediately knew I needed her to help me with my books. Fifteen years and twenty-one books later we’re still writing away. This book is our first effort as co-authors. With my short term memory loss, the kind of help I needed was more in-depth than the usual editing Julie has done in the past.
And now we’re speaking together as well! Jay Hellwig, my driver and personal assistant and the husband of Jill Hellwig, our number one salesperson for more than thirteen years, noticed that the Born to Win attendees responded enthusiastically to what Julie had to say from the stage. He told Tom that he thought it would be a more natural fit to have Julie interview me at the Peter Lowe Get Motivated Seminars. He pointed out that because of our father/daughter relationship she could more comfortably interrupt me if I started to repeat myself and, after all, she had been editing everything I’d said in print for years, she knew all of my material. It was such an obvious fit I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it myself! Julie, it seems, had been being prepared all along to help me at this time in my life.
It made sense to Tom, too, and when he asked Julie if she would travel with me and her mother and interview me on stage, she agreed without hesitation.
JULIE ZIGLAR NORMAN
West Monroe, Louisiana
To the Redhead,
My bride of sixty-one years, the only woman I’ve ever loved
and the most important person in my life.
Sure do love you, Sweetheart!
Our purpose at Howard Books is to:
Increase faith in the hearts of growing Christians
Inspire holiness in the lives of believers
Instill hope in the hearts of struggling people everywhere
Because He’s coming again!
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