A bucket, a half dozen crabs, and Zig Ziglar show us how to get ahead in life

One of the early influences in my life was Zig Ziglar. While his life ended last week, his influence has not. I am not the devoted positive thinking advocate Zig was (see my article here), I do admire his positive approach to life and living.

It is certain that positive minded people do better, enjoy more success, and rebound from failure more than negative, pessimistic people do. This leads me to the topic of today. Most of us are familiar with the attribute known as crabologous behavior.

Defined as ‘a needless effort to stifle others from succeeding,‘ it is derived from the behavior of crabs who, when placed in a bucket, stop each other from climbing out by pulling the other down back into the bucket.

Unfortunately, it is all too common, but it is by no means universal. While I have encountered groups of crabologists (a church or two wherein nearly the entire congregation was infested with them), my experience has been that most of us happily enjoy the successes of our associates.

Despite those dysfunctional congregations, crabology is not a tenet of the Christian faith. Christians are exhorted to weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.

But envy is a powerful and often overwhelming force. Envious people resent the successes or perceived advancements of others. Envious people feel they are more deserving and should be the ones to enjoy the perceived benefits of climbing higher in life.

Some follow a scorched earth strategy. If they can’t get it, no one can get it. But this is where my opening reference to Zig Ziglar comes in. He is renowned for many pithy comments, but one of the most powerful things he ever said is

“You can get anything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

Consider that for a moment. Success, advancement, prosperity, influence, power, whatever can be yours! But like just about every good thing in life. It is most satisfying when it comes indirectly your way. Those who push whole hog ahead find life to be lonely, superficial, mechanical, and in the end, unsatisfying. Why? Because things are only things, money is only money, power is only power. The real riches in life are less tangible than any of that stuff and it becomes valuable to the extent that it emerges from the essential goodness of who you are. It is most certainly not in what you have.

So you can achieve greatness in every dimension. Let’s take, for the sake of discussion, business. Perhaps you are a craftsman or produce a product. The marketplace will determine what you can make in terms of product and money. I am working as project manager right this very day for a couple who are renovating a home. They first called a general contractor who surveyed their house, heard what they had to say about what they wanted done, and came back with a bid wildly out of proportion to the couple’s expectations and budget. He heard what they said, but he did not listen to what they said. The result is he lost the job. He put what he wanted to do ahead of and over what they wanted. Business people who have repute in the community and enjoy success are those who give people what they want.

Does that sound like Zig? It does. “You can get anything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Your business succeeds when you provide people with what they want to buy. The year before I retired from a major home improvement store, I sold in excess of $350,000.00 worth of custom doors and windows to my clients. For every one of them, I assured them that I was not there to sell them anything. “I am here,” I told them, “to help you select the best and most appropriate products for your home. If I do not have what works best for you, I will tell you where to get it.” The results of that strategy are obvious.

Only you can decide what is important and valuable for your life. And I am completely convinced Zig Ziglar was right.

“You can get anything in life you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

So, what do you want? And who are you going to help today, right now to get what they want?

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