February 23, 2020

Book notes from Zig Ziglar’s Little Instruction Book

Zig Ziglar is a legend. When I heard about him from Seth Godin, another one of my favourite authors, I had to devour his books right away so I looked up on Amazon everything that he had written, looked up all his speeches and tried to see what I could learn from Zig Ziglar.

I happened to come across this book Zig Ziglar’s Little Instruction Book which has 150+ pages of a single quote and then a short passage from Zig describing his thoughts and mindset around that quote. The book is easy to read, packed full of good advice and well deserving on my re-read list (i.e., the books that I will re-read at least once every quarter if not more often).

Here are the quotes that resonated with me the most:

When we do more than what we are paid to do, eventually we will be paid more for what we do

I used to think about coworkers and friends telling me about how they made X amount of bonus or Y amount of salary. I thought that I would just get paid more and then I would have greater responsibility, more work, more expectations and such. But, as I learned from life and this quote, it doesn’t work that way. Look at sites like designcrowd or upwork – basically you have to do the work so that you can prove you can do the work before you get paid well. You can’t just sign up and expect to get big cheques in the mail right away – you have to do the work above and beyond what you think you need to do, then you will get paid accordingly, it doesn’t work the other way around.

The real opportunity for success lies within the person and not in the job; you can best get to the top by getting to the bottom of things

Here, Zig is talking about building the right foundation. You can be successful by looking for a ‘deal’ and the ‘fast buck’ but you won’t truly build great success because the foundation was not built the right way. Success and happiness are not a matter of chance but choice. You can choose to be great and you can choose what you want in life.

I’ve got to say no to the good so that I can say yes to the best

When I first started out, the advice that I was given was to say ‘yes’ to as many things as possible. The reason is that when you first start out, you really don’t know what you want to do, or what you are good at. You may have an inkling but you won’t truly understand until you are in the thick of it. However, as you start to build your career and have a good sense of direction of where you want to go, you need to start saying no to more things, especially those things that aren’t going to help you in your path to the top. If you keep on saying yes, you’re going to have less time and energy to do the things that matter.

Some people find fault like there’s a reward for it

Zig has regularly encouraged naysayers to, instead of finding fault in their job or their life, to find all the good things, i.e., to become good-finders. They sit down, and write a long laundry list of all the good things that are part of their job or their life. Then, every day, they stand in front of the mirror in the morning and recite all the good things on that list. Do you know what happened? These people led happier, more productive and satisfying lives as a result. They were able to work harder at their jobs. They had more passion for their lives.

It is far more important to be the right kind of person than it is to marry the right kind of person

Two things about this that I like: one is that you cannot fully control who you fall in love with and marry (well you can sort of); however, you have much more control over the person that you can be. Second is this reminds me of Gretchen Rubin’s secrets of happiness – if you want to be happy, make others happy; if you want to make others happy, make yourself happy. In a similar way, you can make yourself the kind of person that others would want to marry and therefore have a better marriage or relationship.

Don’t wait until you feel like taking positive action. Take the action and then you will feel like doing it.

Superb advice and one that applies to many habits that you want to take up or develop but never feel motivated enough to do it. For me, that’s exercising in the morning. I regularly wake up early to exercise but that doesn’t mean I enjoy it (though I put that aside for a while so that I can enjoy the long term benefits of it). Whenever I don’t feel like exercising though, I put on my gym clothes and tell myself that I’ll only be at the gym for 5 minutes. Then I give myself permission to leave. But what do you know – as I work out in those 5 minutes, the 5 minutes becomes 10 minutes and then it becomes 30 minutes and then by the end of it, I have gotten in a great workout. Don’t wait until you have motivation, just start!

Until you commit your goals to paper, you have intentions that are seeds without soil

Many of the most successful entrepreneurs, athletes and business leaders have a journaling practice (as I understand from Tim Ferriss’ books and interviews). Why journal? Writing helps clarify the goals that you have, gets down your feelings onto paper and helps you think through both problems and ideas. For me, I journal first thing in the morning and I write down whatever I feel – many times I reminisce about the past day but I often times think ahead about the future and what I want to do that day, week or month. Do you write down your goals?

What quote resonated with you the most?


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