I wanted Zig Ziglar to say “Rick, this is a great book and I’m glad to do the foreword,” but what I heard on the other end of the phone line was “Rick, I know three things: there is a God, I’m not him, and neither are you. In five years, you’re going to regret writing this book.”
It was 1995, I was 24 years old and eager to take on the world, but devastated by the call.
Zig Ziglar, my hero and mentor, was telling me that I wasn’t ready and still had a lot to learn. In my youth and ambition, I wanted fame and fortune and Zig could tell that I was taking short cuts to personal gain, rather than digging deep to find God’s purpose for my life and then fulfilling it with passion. I had done a recording with Zig about a year earlier and he could read through my faux confidence like some kind of Jedi master!
It did not take five years to regret the book. I was trying to confiscate and destroy every copy within a year! What Zig saw in that book was a hard charging kid that was giving God lip service, while falling prey to a lot of the self-help new agers that replaced God with self. He was trying to save me from that trap and keep my focus on what matters most. I was too hard headed to understand him at first, but a year later that phone call rang in my ears and I finally understood.
Zig helped me to build a spiritual foundation first and a few years later, he was one of my strongest supporters when I ran for the legislature.
Then in 2002, I had the honor of speaking on the same stage as Zig in front of 7,500 people. I was extremely nervous before the event because my mentor was watching and it was a huge crowd. This titan of the stage, the master motivator and most famous public speaker in the world for the last several decades, put his arm around me and prayed for peace and mental clarity.
It was a moment I’ll never forget.
But what he said to me backstage afterwards completely overshadowed the standing ovation the crowd was kind enough to give. Zig gave me a big bear hug and said with a big grin, “Now you’re ready to write that book!”
Life got busy and other projects got in the way. Every time I saw him, he would ask “How’s that book coming?” It was a full six years before I had a manuscript for Freedom’s Frame to send him, but I’ll never forget the overwhelming feeling of gratitude and elation when I received back his Foreword for the book.
Zig Ziglar influenced every single area of my life.
From the little round “tuit” plastic coins when I was a kid taking his “I Can Because I’m an AmerICAN” course to the goal setting system I still use today, to the spiritual and personal guidance, there is not a single aspect of my life untouched by Zig Ziglar.
He showed me that you can still be at the top of your field while keeping God first and living with integrity. Though I still struggle to keep the right balance, I’m a better husband and father because of the way he challenged me to put my family before my career. My relationships, goals, speaking style…EVERY area of my life has Zig’s imprint.
I’m just one of millions of people that were impacted by his life.
There is no doubt in my mind that Zig Ziglar got everything out of life he wanted because he dedicated himself to helping others find their purpose and live their passion.
His was a life incredibly well lived.
My father said it best when he told me upon Zig’s passing this week that he feels exactly like he did when President Reagan passed away. Dad wisely said “when greatness leaves us, there is a void.”
Zig, thank you for all the words of wisdom and the example you set.
We will no doubt See You At The Top!