by Jim Hinshaw
I was listening to Zig Zigler this week in something called “Automobile University”. That is where you listen to a CD that will improve your mind while driving back and forth to the airport. Zig passed away in 2012, but his thoughts and instructions are timeless and still current.
On the CD, he tells the story of a woman who reaches out to him, saying he is the only one who can help. She is miserable at work, everyone is an idiot and she hates her job and co-workers. So she tells Zig’s secretary she must meet him. He agrees, and on his next trip through her part of the world, he meets her behind the curtain, a few minutes before he is to go on stage to discuss his sales program. She was exasperated and apparently thought she would get a couple of hours of counseling that wasn’t going to happen. Zig is clear with her, he is not a therapist, but he does understand human nature.
So he asks her if she brought a notebook to take notes. She did and Zig responds with “Start taking notes.” She says, “Right now, here, behind the curtain?” He replied, “Yes, now.” He tells her that in 100% of the people he talks to, if you don’t take the first step, you won’t take the second! So she reluctantly pulls out a notebook and starts writing. He asks her to list the positive things about her job. But she says “That’s a short list and I can’t think of one thing.” He keeps on pushing: “Do they pay you regularly?” “Yes.” She says. “Is it a fair wage?” “Actually, above the market for my tasks.” The woman replies. “Do you have an insurance plan?” And again she responds “Yes.” Zig asks her yet another question “How about holiday pay?” And again she says “Yes.” By the time they were done, she had a list of over 20 items that were positive about her job.
Zig tells her to look at that list every morning, to read it out loud, every day, and see what happens. A few months later, she is sitting in the front row of another one of his meetings, smiling big. She tells him that the most wonderful thing happened, those people she works with have changed! She says “They are not so bad afterall, in fact, they are wonderful.”
Zig’s point is simple. When we want to change our spouse, kids, parents, bosses, co-workers, employees, and even our customers, the one who really can affect that change is us! It’s so simple yet profound. We are in charge of everything that happens to us, good and bad. Yes I hear many say “Jim, we can’t control the weather, the economy, and our employee’s actions.” That is correct, but we can control our response to all of those. Did you know that sailors can navigate across the water in a sailboat no matter which way the wind is blowing? To be clear, I am not a sailor. However, if I were on a sailboat, I would want the person sailing it to understand how the wind works, and be able to get to our destination no matter the weather.
So the message is simple but hard to do. When you are faced with a uncooperative person, perhaps one you work for or one that works for you, or if you’re just not happy with your job, plan on concentrating on the positive aspects of the relationship and the work. We all want to blame the economy, the weather, or any other outside force for our trials and tribulations. When has that ever helped? It turns out what we think about becomes the course of our actions, the actions become habits, and the habits become our character, our DNA in a way. The very element that moves us to do what we do.
This became clear to me one evening after we had great family time and shared a couple of birthdays with a huge crab boil. It was not anything specific that happened, but the time I had to reflect on how great it is to have a family that can talk and share feelings together. After dinner, I discussed this with my sons and it became clear that I should share this timeless advice about focusing on the positives. I have no idea what any of you are going through personally, but in the last couple of weeks I have seen multiple requests for prayer from my Facebook connections. Most have been from from family with several about jobs, and employment. So I am sending this out with my thoughts and prayers for your success both in family, work and health to give you encouragemnent. One of the other speakers on my CD is a man named Jim Rohn. He says that evidence has shown that what we think about has more effect on our health than exercise, diet, or even our genes. That’s powerful stuff. So consider an assignment for yourself this week, to dwell on positive things. Anything positive counts and simply stuff those negative thoughts aside by replacing them with positive ones.
And by the way, this is the Christmas season. A perfect way to be positive is to do something special for someone else this season. And better yet if they cannot offer anything in return. Perhaps by visiting a nursing home, calling a loved one miles away, thanking a veteran, or visiting someone in need or a friend at a hospital. If want to see someone light up with joy, surprise them with a hospital visit. You can even visit and bring joy to someone who is without a family to care and love them, especially during Christmas. I have gone into hospitals and asked a nurse, who is lonely this time of year? They will gladly direct you. If you are not able to pray with a patient, you could even simply thank the nurses and doctors you see and let them know you appreciate them. They probably did not want to work on Christmas day, but someone has to. It will be a blessing. Thanks, we will talk later.
FYI – On Zig Ziglar’s web site you can buy yourself or a friend a book.
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