At a recent engagement, I was asked who or what (other than God and parents) influenced or made a large impact on my life. That was a no brainer… Zig Ziglar.
Zig was such a cool dude. As far back as I can remember, his voice and his wisdom have been in my ear- in my life. I don’t even know how or when I first heard of him. I guess I had to be around 10 years old. His attitude and passion were infectious. I loved listening to him. My nephew used to call his tapes the Happy Tapes. “Are you listening to those happy tapes again?”, he would say. I learned early to keep my environment (both the physical and personal inner environment/thoughts) filled with words of life that moved me forward.
God never ceases to amaze me. Interesting how when I met my biggest unexpected challenge about 4 years ago, I was able to sit in a room with Zig and partake of his wisdom as he talked about embracing his own recent struggles- struggles that many people feared he’d never get passed. I sat there and shook my head as he spoke words that gripped my heart. How I needed the words at that time. I shook his hand and thanked him for sharing his God-given gifts with me. It was one of those life impacting moments.
I so appreciate Zig’s son Tom (an extraordinary man and writer in his own right), whom I had connected with years ago, for bringing me together with Zig. It was an amazing gift. The timing was orchestrated by God. I had a smile on my face but I was hurting that day. I felt disconnected. I felt used. I can’t put into words how he encouraged my heart and reminded me of my own God given gifts- a heart and gifts that I felt had recently been taken advantaged of and discarded.
Zig reminded me that God purposed me here and that I must keep living, keep stepping in faith, keep impacting lives, keep imparting into others in spite of the dark life changing challenges I had just begin to face not even a month earlier. I sat there still feeling the sting of the pain but more determined than ever to impact the lives of others for God in the way God created me to do. My circumstances would not break me, define me, or make me bitter. Life had shifted but I would embrace the shift and look for something extraordinary to occur.
People already accused me of being “too encouraging and positive”, now folks were about to… umm, not know what to think. “How can she be hopeful in “these” times? Is she delusional or in denial? Does she not see what’s going on in the world around her? Has all her learning finally made her snap?” Ha! When I’m standing on a stage, when I’m writing, or even if I’m just sitting in the room with people, my message is always one of hope. I’m going to inspire, challenge, encourage, engage, and empower whomever I can whenever the opportunity arises, in spite of what is happening in the world around- even if I have to do it while laying down, after being knocked down- in the process of getting up. Inspiring others, helping others, reminding others of the power, gifts,… within, reminds me as well. Helping to cast light on the path of others, brightens my own path.
After giving my response regarding who influenced me, some of the younger people questioned who Zig was? (It still amazes me when I come across people who never heard of him.) Although our crowd was somewhat diverse, most people in the room were shocked that I, an “almost” middle-aged Black woman would have chosen to highlight an older White man as a major influence in my life. I’m not moved much by the color of one’s skin, but by heart, passion, integrity, and the character that lies within.
When I finally decided to work on publishing my writing- when people told me, “Don’t waste your time! Too much time has gone by for you to chase dreams”, it was Zig who reminded me that his 1st book “See You At The Top” wasn’t published until he was 49 years old and then he went on to write almost 2 dozen more books. It was in his 40’s that his life shifted and he begin to emerge into the great man who was always on the inside of him. As he emerged, he inspired the world.
When many people were waiting for the bottom to drop out of my life, after I faced a seemingly devastating blow- when I was criticized for still helping others in spite of seemingly being left at times to stand alone, Zig reminded me to embrace the struggle, walk in faith, be a real Christ-like person, be careful whose voice you let in your ear, see the best in folks, keep a good attitude, and continue to help others get what they need. The seeds I sowed were not in vain. My harvest will come. It may not come in the way others think it, but believe me, it is coming.
I’ve learned that tough people go thru tough times. It is often in the midst of these difficult times, that we are exposed to an “us” that we never knew existed. The overcomer in us is revealed. The conqueror in us begins to take a stance of victory. The messenger is us comes forth with words of hope. The diamond that lay in the heart of the coal begins to sparkle and showcase its brilliance. The star that was once hidden begins to shine thru darkness and stand as a point of inspiration and direction. As the real me (who always was) continues to emerge, I have to encourage and inspire the world around me. I don’t need anyone’s permission, approval, validation or a perfect environmental climate. All I need is to understand who I am and why I am here.
So yeah, Zig Ziglar, born in Coffee County, Alabama, raised in Yazoo City, Mississippi, had a major influence on this woman’s life and I’ll always be grateful!
Until next time, Grace to you!
Wendy M. Reynolds, MS/P