How to Unlock Your Code for Success

UPDATED: January 27, 2012
PUBLISHED: January 27, 2012

Editor’s note: Zig Ziglar’s new book Born to Win, releases Jan. 24 on In this SUCCESS exclusive sneak peek, learn how the first step to achievement is simple planning.

In his new book Born to Win, Zig Ziglar says everybody is capable of achieving success. Everybody. The weird cousin you avoid at family reunions? She’s designed for accomplishment. Your neighbor who is—simply put—a jerk? He’s engineered for success. Anyone can be great. The difference, Ziglar says, “Many people who want to be great aren’t willing to do the work to make it possible!”

Part I: Planning to Win

Planning to win, as the book’s first part suggests, is a mindset makeover of how to begin living your life as it was meant to be lived. Ziglar begins with the foundation he laid in his previous best-selling book, See You at the Top,—desire is the most powerful motivator you have in your arsenal—and builds on it with helpful tools to sharpen your goal-setting and tips on how to effectively map out your plan.

Perhaps the most revealing of ‘Part I: Planning to Win’ are two simple questions: “What is your definition of success? And do you know what success is and what it isn’t?” If you hesitated, struggled, or tried to answer either question with one sentence, or attempted to define success with one idea, then you need to re-think your plans to attain success. After all, how can you achieve something you can’t even describe? “True success,” explains Ziglar, “has more components than one sentence or idea can contain.” Knowing what you want, being able to clearly relate it to an outsider—that is the first step which many jump over, only to misstep later on in the race of life.

If understanding success is the easily forgotten step, then understanding your goals is the next underrated course of action. Zig Ziglar gives a compelling illustration of the power of understanding one’s purpose:

“Three men were busy at the same task, and a passerby stopped and asked each of the men what they were doing. The first man said, “I am cutting stone.” The second man said, “I am earning my living.” The third man said, “I am building a cathedral.” All three of the men were involved in cutting stone. The first man saw no purpose or value in what he was doing, and my guess is that his days were long and tedious. He probably went home tired and exhausted every night and dreaded going to work each day.

The second man had a different perspective. He saw cutting the stones as a means to earn a living and probably had a better attitude than the first man. However, the value and purpose he saw in his effort was merely about getting his paycheck. I imagine this man spent a lot of time thinking about other jobs he might be able to get and probably found his work boring and repetitive.

The third man knew he was cutting stone, and he knew he was earning a paycheck, but he also saw value and purpose in his work that transcended those basic realities. The third man was building a cathedral that would be used by people. The cathedral would be a spiritual and social center where men and women could come to worship and fellowship together. That church, when completed, would give people hope and help them live better lives. What do you think the third man’s attitude was about his work? My guess is that he couldn’t wait to get to work every day. I imagine he arrived early and stayed late. He probably talked about his work all the time and was grateful to be doing something that was so much fun! I’m sure he could visualize that finished church in his mind and couldn’t wait to go there.”

Which of those three men are you? If you identified yourself as the first or second man, then see how Zig Ziglar can help you achieve the understanding of the third man in Born to Win: Find Your Success Code by Zig Ziglar and Tom Ziglar, available with exclusive materials at the SUCCESS Store.

Jennifer Chang is the former associate editor for SUCCESS. She has a corgi puppy who has more Instagram followers than a dog should have. Tweet or follow her thoughts and favorite links at @jenzchang.