When all of us understand that there is no superior sex or superior race, we will have laid a foundation for building winning relationships with both sexes and people of all races, creeds and colors.
The five people who have had the greatest impact on my life were all women: my mother, my wife, my oldest daughter, an elderly African-American lady and my first-grade teacher. I can only imagine what I would have missed in life had I been sexist.
Three Native-Americans had a significant impact on my life: one in my sales career, another in my speaking career and yet another in my spiritual life. Each one dramatically — even radically — increased my effectiveness and expanded my opportunities. Each one had a positive influence on my financial life, family life and community life. Sister Jessie, the African-American lady noted above, spent the July 4, 1972, weekend in our home and, as a result, I became a Christian — a truly life-enhancing, life-changing experience.
Over the years, I've met thousands of people. Of the thousands, there are three men with whom I bonded instantly. The first was Bernie Lofchick, from Winnipeg, Canada. Our friendship extends over 34 years. He was the first person who believed in my ability to communicate through writing and speaking, and he had a dramatic impact on my career. We visit regularly on the phone, and occasionally in person. He came to Dallas to comfort me and grieve with me when my oldest daughter, Suzan, died. We are closer than brothers, despite the fact that I'm Southern Baptist and he is of the Jewish faith.
The second is Dr. John Maxwell, whom I met on a plane. John Maxwell is one of the truly outstanding communicators in the world today. His writing and recordings have been very uplifting and encouraging to me. John wrote, in part, the following on his way to attend Suzan's funeral: "Zig, over the last few years, we have enjoyed many good times together. Today, I want to share grief with you and Jean over the loss of your daughter. I offer to you my continued love, friendship and prayers." John is Anglo-Saxon.
The third man with whom I instantly bonded is Honor Bell, an African-American whom I also met on a plane. Honor is a very successful man who served in the U.S. Navy for many years and now is heavily involved in encouraging and working with the youth of America. After a brief conversation, I knew that he was a man who is in God's hands and adheres to the old code of honor, duty and country, which Douglas MacArthur so eloquently spoke about.
My beautiful Mexican daughter-in-law is from Campeche, Mexico. She met my son as a student in college. Her presence and the beautiful granddaughter they presented to us have added much enjoyment to our lives. I call her "Bonita," for "beautiful woman."
Krish Dhanam is from India, and has been in America for 11 years. He arrived here with $9 in his pocket, and today, owns a beautiful home, directs our international operations and is one of our busiest speakers.
I am hopeful you will ponder this column as I pose the question, "What would I have missed out on throughout my life if I were racist?" It is extraordinarily important in our multicultured society and with a tight job market to recognize that talent comes in all colors, sizes, shapes and forms. Since 46 percent of all workers who voluntarily leave their jobs do so because they do not feel respected or appreciated, it becomes increasingly important that we learn to respect and be considerate of the other person, regardless of race, sex and so on.
The best way to succeed in all areas of your life is to work with and through other people. Be courteous and respectful, and I really will see you over the top!
To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.
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