What is legacy? My own definition is this: The sum total of changed lives and their impact on others from generation to generation. Said another way, our legacy is simply who we influence, and who they influence, and so on and so on. This means that all of us are creating our legacy every day. Yes, what we say and what we do really does matter, and will matter for generations to come.
Dad’s legacy is pretty incredible, and it’s growing every day! There are many things that contribute to Dad’s legacy, but I want to break it down to two things: What he said, and what he did. Both of these are vitally important; however, legacy really explodes when you combine them. A good friend of mine once told me that Dad really “walks his talk, and you know he is a really good talker!” So true!
I believe that few people would argue that Dad had a gift for speaking and saying things that were profound and simple at the same time. He wrote over 30 books, thousands of articles and newspaper columns, and spoke thousands of times around the world. His voice lives on via millions of downloads and millions of hard copy CDs, DVDs, and books still circulating. His words literally lead to changed lives. People he never met are impacted and changed forever simply because what he said inspires and encourages them to think differently and do differently. Yes, words indeed have power. But words alone do not create a reputation, and reputation is what gives credibility to words.
In my life I have heard this a thousand times if I have heard it once, “Your dad is the same off stage as he is on stage.” You see, it is natural for us to test someone’s words against their actions. Why? Because, unfortunately, most people talk better than they act. Reputation is built over time based on what you say and what you do. A million great words can be negated by one action. A thousand words can be multiplied a hundred times by one great action. Dad’s legacy is so incredible because of this simple multiplication of influence.
So what is the secret to the power of Dad’s “doing”? At the core I believe it was his heart for servant leadership. There are many books that go into detail about servant leadership, so I will not go point by point. Instead I will tell you a simple and profound story about Dad taking action and servant leadership.
This story happened to Bob Beaudine, who has become a great friend of mine. Bob lives in the same neighborhood that Dad lived in for 25 years, and Bob would sometimes see Dad either walking the neighborhood getting his exercise or sometimes at the nearby country club where they were both members. At the time of this story Bob knew Dad, but he really didn’t “know” Dad. One day Bob came home and his wife was very upset. Their daughter’s little white fluffy dog had escaped. They immediately started searching the neighborhood, but there was no sign of the dog. Then Bob remembered seeing Dad walking earlier that day and thought perhaps he had seen the dog. Bob then went to Dad’s house and rang the doorbell. Dad answered the door and Bob asked him if he had seen a little white fluffy dog. Dad replied, “You mean like this?” and he held up a stack of flyers with a picture of the missing dog on it! Dad was about to hang these up all over the neighborhood. Dad invited Bob in to be reunited with the little fluffy white dog.
Years later, when Bob related the story to me, he said this: “You know, Zig Ziglar is a legend and he might be the busiest person I know. Yet, here he had time for my little white fluffy dog.” Yes, words are important, but action is the multiplier. Here is the simple servant leadership lesson from Dad. It boils down to one question and it determined his action. “If that had been my little white fluffy dog lost in the neighborhood, what would I want someone else to do?”
The key to being an effective servant leader is this: “If that were MY mother, MY son, MY wife, MY daughter, MY friend, MY dog, etc., what would I want someone else to do?” And then DO IT.
Legacy is about influence, and influence comes from what you say and what you do. The purer your motive, the greater the influence, the greater the legacy. I am very excited about our new Ziglar Legacy Series that we are launching. We have the honor of having expert authors, speakers, and executives who all have one thing in common – they are part of Dad’s legacy! You see, each one of them has been influenced by Dad in some way, and each is now making a difference in the world in their own way. Because of them, and YOU, Dad’s legacy is continuing to grow. I invite you to attend this free series. Click here to learn more about the series and to register. I don’t want you to miss Dave Ramsey, Seth Godin, Brian Tracy, and our other exceptional Ziglar Legacy Series guests!