From The Plano Star:
“Where you start is not nearly as important as where you finish.”
Those were the words of one of Plano’s most famous residents, Zig Ziglar, the world-renowned motivational speaker who died Wednesday at the age of 86 after a short bout with pneumonia.
Ziglar was living proof that his advice about starting and finishing was true.
While he died in Texas, Ziglar had a difficult childhood growing up in Alabama, where he was born in 1926. He suffered the loss of his father when he was only 5 years old and was forced to get his first job selling peanuts at the age of 6. This early work was tough, but taught him about people and life, he said.
“I learned a lot about people who had so much less than I had,” Ziglar said in a 2010 interview. “And I resonated with them, and they resonated with me.”
Ziglar began his motivational speaking career in the 1970s, with much of his advice based on his Christian faith. It was those beliefs that eventually led him to Prestonwood Baptist Church.
“He was a man that influenced so many,” said Jack Graham, Prestonwood pastor. “Zig was a member of this church for over 20 years. I had the privilege of being his pastor and his friend. Zig was the real deal.”
Of all the “zigisms” that Ziglar was known for, Graham said there was one that particularly stood out to him. That quote, “you can get everything you want in life as long as you are willing to help others get what they want in life,” perfectly summed up Ziglar’s message, Graham said.
While he was known for being a motivational speaker with a great personality, Graham said what you saw from Ziglar on stage was not an act. The man that millions of people around the world saw was the same one that Ziglar’s friends and family saw, Graham said, adding that Ziglar was a dispenser of hope and love.
“He was a minister of encouragement and gave a message in a way that connected with people,” Graham said. “He had the knack and ability to give truth in a practical way, as well as in a way so that people understood it. He helped so many people. He was in many ways like a pastor.”
When he was not on the road, Ziglar taught the “Encouragement” Sunday school class at Prestonwood for 18 years. At one time the class was the largest class at the church because people wanted to hear what Ziglar had to say, Graham said.
“No matter where he was in the world, he always made every effort to get back and teach that class on Sunday,” Graham said. “[After class] he would always say, ‘it is time to go to big church,’ and he would bring everyone in so I could preach to them. Zig and [his wife] Jean, who he affectionately called the ‘redhead,’ were always on the front row. Imagine that, being a preacher and preaching to Zig Ziglar — the ultimate communicator.”