I feel that I owe the teachers of Topeka USD 501 a debt that I could
never pay. Especially my 7th grade typing teacher. If it wasn't for her,
you wouldn't be reading this right now.
In the summer of 2001, a teacher and football coach from a high school
in Derby Kansas contacted me. He'd been receiving my daily inspirational
messages and asked me if I'd come speak to one of his classes. Feeling
my heavy debt to the teachers in Kansas, I accepted his invitation and
set aside a date in October to visit with his class. Finally, I'd be
able to give something back and make a payment on my debt. I notified my
brother who lived near by and asked him to pick me up at the Rose Hill
airport. I was thrilled he would have a chance to see his "little"
brother talk to and inspire some kids.
As we all know now, the events on September 11, 2001 changed every
thing. Including private aviation. I was able to make it to Rose Hill
Kansas in October for my commitment. My brother picked me up at the
airport and took me to the Derby High School, where we were treated to
lunch. The Coach informed me of a change of plan and that I would be
talking to the High School, not just 20 to 30 students in his class. I
hadn't prepared a message for a group that big and was sure my brother
could tell, this was not what I had volunteered for. I talked to all
those kids that day, I improvised on my feet. I did the best I could,
but in the end, I was disappointed in myself that day and the talk that
I had delivered.
That following Sunday, I took some time to talk to my friend and Sunday
school teacher Zig Ziglar. I explained what had happened to me that
week. Zig listened to my story and I'll never forget what he told me
"Tim" he said, "Let me tell you a story. I was in Columbia, Missouri
some time back. I had to deliver a speech to a group. The night before,
staying in the Hotel, I got sick. I managed to make it through the next
day. It was not one of my best. I was feeling lousy, but I was there to
do a job. So, I worked hard and did the best I could. That night, I'd
made another commitment to go and talk to another group. Oh, Tim, let me
tell you. I really didn't want to go. I'd made the commitment, so I
showed up. I knew then I shouldn't have gone. I got on stage that night.
I felt really bad. Of course, not as bad as I felt the day afterwards.
Much like you're feeling now. I really felt like I had let them down.
For many years, I felt that way. Regretted that night. Then a funny
thing happened a few years back, I was talking to another group. After
I'd finished, I was signing books for the crowd. A man came up to me. He
looked me in the eye and told me that he'd heard me speak that night in
Missouri. Tim, a cold shiver ran down my back. I prepared for what he
was about to say. Instead, he said... Zig, your speech that night in
Missouri turned my life around. Tim, I was speechless. I didn't know
what to say to him. For years I'd been feeling bad about that night.
Then I realized that God had put me there that night. That man needed to
hear my words. Even if, they weren't the words said the way I thought
they needed to be said."
I looked at Zig. I could see in his eyes what I often feel in my heart.
The paychecks that come in words from God. A simple thank you. A story
of how the work we do because of our faith, changed a life. It was
definitely a Zig moment.
He continued: "Tim, God put you there. Never second guess where you're
supposed to be."
Only Zig could pick up a man, with his words and make you feel like you
could fly again.
Zig and I would talk from time to time. I always expressed how much I
appreciated his insight. His dedication to his faith. He would always
brush it aside. I don't know if he never learned how to accept a
compliment or if it was just easier for him to brush it aside and act
embarrassed. I prefer to think it was just his humble way. His servants
heart. His big heart trying to give enough people what they want.
For those of you who knew Zig, you know that look on his face he got
every time he shook a person's hand. I often tell folks it was his way
of recharging his batteries. The energy he got from a handshake. It
propelled him. He loved people. Of course, he loved Jean and God more,
but he truly enjoyed meeting and talking with people. My true pleasure
knowing Zig was not his Godly advice, but watching him shake those hands
and seeing that smile on his face as he was doing what he loved.
Zig told everyone: "You can have everything in life that you want if you
just give enough other people what they want." Now that the final
chapter of his life has been written, thousands of people around the
world are telling their stories of how Zig gave everything in life... to
everyone. Inspiring them, changing their lives and picking them up... so
they could fly again.
As for me, the debt that I owe to Zig, is bigger than the one I owe the
teachers in Kansas.
Hilary "Zig" Hinton Ziglar
Nov. 6, 1926 - Nov. 28, 2012