Ability Can Take You to The Top, But Not Keep You There


Ability can take you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” One of many great quotes from perhaps the biggest sales and motivational speaker for over half a century, Zig Ziglar. I chose this quote for this week’s post for a few reasons. First, Zig was a man of character – and integrity. Second, he hit the nail on the head with this quote. he knew this from experience, his own and from observing others over many years in the professional world.

The third reason is the truth found in this quote. Ability is good and necessary in any successful endeavor, business or personal. Ability includes the proficiency of aptitude, and ability to exercise skill and competence in a particular area. I have a brother who has mechanical ability with autos and other motorized vehicles. Not only the ability to work on engines also bodywork, exceptional painting, literally anything to do with motorized vehicles from customized golf carts to racing speed boats. My brother has this ability, I do not.

My younger brother has the proficient ability in home and commercial maintenance and remodeling. Building a deck on the back of a home or overseeing a multi-million-dollar remodel project for a hospital, he is gifted with the ability to accomplish the task. While I enjoy some of these type of projects, I do not have the level of ability as my younger brother.

We all have the ability and our ability can take us to the top of our field as long as we use and continue striving to improve those abilities. It is when a person stops improving that he/she stagnates in progressing to the pinnacle of performance.

“Ability can take you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.” Character includes one’s temperament, personality, disposition, level of integrity, uprightness, and honor. Without character – quality character – a person’s time at the top is limited.

Zig Ziglar made it to the top of the sales profession selling pots and pans. From the late 1950s until his passing in 2012 he never stopped bringing others along and continuously encouraging as many people as he could strive for reaching the top – the top of their personal and professional possibility. Not everyone can be the president of a Fortune 500 company or the best salesperson in the world. But each person can strive for the best of his/her own ability with impeccable character.

For some people, being shown respect for his/her ability is enough. Yet, those who strive to continually improve ability with quality character, these are the people who go beyond expectations and thrive at the top. These are also the people who will be encouraging others along the journey as well.

Like Zig Ziglar, quality performers with quality character not only make it to the top. They bring others along with them and spend a lifetime encouraging others to be and do the same. Are you living dependent on ability alone or ability plus character? What will you do this week to improve both your ability and character quality? How will you encourage the ability and character of others?

George Yates is the Church Health Strategist for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, assisting churches and individuals in pursuing God’s purpose for life. Learn more at ALSBOM.org/revitalization.

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