Preparing to Win

Happiness is a choice, not a result of your life’s circumstances. That’s the consensus from more than 1,000 senior citizens when asked by Cornell researchers for the highly publicized Legacy Project, an ongoing study to collect practical advice from America’s elders, from different socioeconomic groups. In Zig Ziglar’s new book, Born to Win, Ziglar makes the same powerful assertion that you can always do more than you think.

“If you put a bunch of fleas in a jar and put a lid on the jar, the fleas will jump up and collide with the jar lid. They quickly adjust how high they jump so they won’t hit the lid. After they adjust their jumping power, you can take the lid off of the jar and the fleas will not jump out! They will have trained themselves to jump so high and no higher. The fleas actually become slaves to their experience and imprison themselves inside the jar—even though they could jump out at any time after the lid is removed.

“People do the same thing to themselves. Somewhere in most people’s experience, they develop the idea that they can (or should) do only so much and no more. They adjust their expectations of themselves accordingly, and they get what they expect: less than what they are capable of!”

Ziglar’s powerful illustration of how we become imprisoned by our own limited thinking is a convicting one. Our experiences limit the expectations we set, making us fearful of risk and failure, thus perpetuating a cycle of mediocrity. But Ziglar reminds us, “Just as ships are built to sail the seas and planes to fly the heavens, so is man created for a purpose.” That purpose, although it varies from person to person, is centered on Ziglar’s eponymous title—Born to Win.

Part II: Preparing for Success

Ziglar breaks down his secret to preparing for success by four distinct steps to master: Attitude, Knowledge, Practice and Advice. Ziglar illustrates these steps with sound advice and personal anecdotes, many of which contain Ziglar’s own vulnerabilities, struggles and triumphs.

Perhaps the most inspiring of these admissions is Zig Ziglar’s honest confession that he is just an average Joe with no remarkable talents. He writes, “My wife was ranked fourth in a high school class of three hundred. I was in the part of the class that made the top half possible! Whatever success I have enjoyed as a speaker and author was not the result of some natural talent. My success was the result of hard work and practice.” Coming from world-renowned Mr. Zig Ziglar himself, that’s the most motivating quote of all.


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.

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