Two Giants Died This Year

Stephen Convey and Zig Ziglar both pass away the same year after great success.



Besides splurging on silly gifts and empty calories, December is often a month to reflect. As I look back at 2012, I regret the loss of two giants, two legends, two geniuses.

They may not be “mainstream” in the veterinary world, but they are national heroes to the rest of the (business) world. I am referring to Stephen Covey and Zig Ziglar.

Stephen Covey was an 80-year-old best-selling author, businessman, professor and motivational speaker who wrote several must-read, life-altering, world-wide best-sellers. Sadly, Covey died on July 16, 2012, from consequences of a bicycle accident that occurred in April. Covey had nine children and 52 grandchildren!

His most famous book is the classic “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” which sold more than 25 million copies in 38 languages. Amazingly, the book was written in 1989, or 23 years ago, but it is still very up to date. Nobody ever listened, but I’ve always said that the book should have been entitled “The Seven Habits of Highly Happy People.”

The book presents several principles critical for success in our professional and personal lives. Covey tackles time management, creating a mission statement, goal setting, how to keep your cool at all times, imagining win-win solutions, and so much more. The “Seven Habits” is one of those rare life-altering books.

Zig Ziglar, our second legend, was born in Alabama in 1926 (“Zig” was actually his nickname; his first name was Hilary). The 10th of 12 children, his family had no running water or indoor plumbing. He eventually became a salesman, motivational speaker and best-selling author and died on November 28, 2012, at the age of 86.

He is famous for uttering numerous witty quotes, some of which have become classics. Here are a few worth pondering—slowly:

  • On success: “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude."
  • On motivation: "People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily."
  • On success: "You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want."
  • On goal setting: "A goal properly set is halfway reached."
  • On success: "Sometimes adversity is what you need to face in order to become successful."
  • On failure: "If you learn from defeat, you haven't really lost."
  • On success: “You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win."
  • On significance: "It's not what you've got, it's what you use that makes a difference."
  • On success: "Where you start is not nearly as important as where you finish."
  • On self-improvement: "Building a better you is the first step to building a better America."

Reading Covey and Ziglar, or listening to them, may not be considered by most as more entertaining than watching “Dancing with the Stars,” but it surely will have a much more lasting and beneficial effect on your life.

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, Pa. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound.”

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Two Giants Died This Year

Stephen Convey and Zig Ziglar both pass away the same year after great success.