Life gets busy. Has The Magic of Thinking Big been gathering dust on your bookshelf? Instead, pick up the key ideas now.
Disclaimer: This is an unofficial summary and analysis.
David J Schwartz’s Perspective
David J. Schwartz (1927-1987) was a professor of marketing and chairman of the department at Georgia State University, Atlanta. He was considered a leading American authority on motivation. Starting from a one-room house in rural Indiana, David J. Schwartz became the president of his own company, Creative Educational Services, a consulting firm specializing in leadership development. On top of this, he became a lecturer to more than three thousand trade associations and sales groups.
Introduction to The Magic of Thinking Big
The Magic of Thinking Big is a powerful, practical, and uplifting book to help get you out of a rut. Building from this, this book can invigorate your goals and empower you towards success. Most people go through life with small ambitions, small goals, and small thoughts, and they only rise to the size of their dreams. That said, by thinking big, you can start achieving larger goals.
Chapter 1: Believe you can succeed, and you will
“Believe it can be done. When you believe something can be done, really believe, your mind will find the ways to do it. Believing a solution paves the way to a solution.”– David Schwartz
The size of your success is limited by the size of your thinking. If you do not believe you can achieve, this will further decrease your chances of success. Small thinking is characterized by searching for reasons for failure rather than ways you can succeed. You want to reconstruct your mind to have an expanded capacity so you can think bigger. It is within this expanded capacity that you can figure out the best actions to take.
Schwartz provides a question that readers should ask themselves to determine the level of belief they have.
“Do you believe you will have positive relationships, partners, and friendships?”
If you do not believe you will have positive relationships, partners, and friendships, then you are wrong. You are letting your belief system limit your potential success. To start challenging these beliefs and acquire the power of belief, you should follow these three tips:
Think Success, Don’t Think Failure
When you face a difficult situation, replace your automatic negative thinking with positive thoughts. Let success dominate your thought processes. Adopting these thoughts will allow you to create plans that produce success. Conversely, maintaining negative thoughts will encourage plans that produce failure.
Remind Yourself Regularly that You Are Better than You Think You Are
Successful people are not superhuman. On top of that, success isn’t based on luck. Successful people are just ordinary people who have developed a belief in themselves and what they do. So, never sell yourself short.
The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief. If you want to think of great ideas or ways of doing things, you first have to believe it’s possible. If you don’t believe that you can be successful, it is unlikely you will think of all the ways to achieve success.
Think little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals and hope for big success. Crucially, big ideas and big plans are often easier than little ideas.
Chapter 2: Cure Yourself of Excusitis, the Failure Disease
Highly effective people make fewer excuses because they’re continually searching for ways to achieve their goals. Schwartz describes excusitis as the failure disease. It appears in various forms, but the worst types are health excusitis, intelligence excusitis, age excusitis, and luck excusitis.
Let’s go through them one by one:
The more you talk about an ailment, even the common cold, the worse it seems to get. Talking about bad health is like putting fertilizer on weeds. On top of that, we don’t get respect and loyalty by being a chronic complainer.
Instead, be genuinely grateful that your health is as good as it is. Life is yours to enjoy. Don’t waste it. Don’t pass up on living by thinking yourself into a hospital bed.
Never underestimate your own intelligence. Similarly, never overestimate the intelligence of others. Do not sell yourself short. Concentrate on your assets and discover your talents. Remember, it’s not how big your brain is that matters. Instead, it’s how you use your brain that counts.
Remind yourself several times daily, “My attitudes are more important than my intelligence.” At work and home, practice positive attitudes. Put your intelligence to positive use by finding ways to win.
Remember that the ability to think is of much greater value than the ability to memorize facts. Use your mind to create and develop ideas, and find new and better ways to do things. Ask yourself, “Am I using my mental ability to make history, or am I using it merely to record history made by others?”
Look at your present age positively. Think, “I’m still young,” not “I’m already old.” Practice looking forward to new horizons and gain enthusiasm and a sense of youth.
Calculate how much productive time you have left. Remember, a thirty-year-old still has 80 percent of their productive life ahead of them. Even a fifty-year-old still has 40 percent of their opportunity years left. This does not mean you should waste your time. Instead, invest future time into doing what you really want to do.
Accept the law of cause and effect. Take a second look at what appears to be someone’s “good luck.” You will notice that their success actually stems from preparation, planning, and successful thinking. Similarly, you will notice that those with good luck learn and profit from setbacks. Those with bad luck fail to learn from their setbacks.
Chapter 3: Build Confidence and Destroy Fear
Destroy fearful thoughts associated with actions that can move you towards your goals. You have to make peace with that fear. If you want your fear to go away, simply take action and do something. Action cures fear. Isolate your fear and then take constructive action.
Make a supreme effort to only put positive thoughts in your memory bank. On top of this, refuse to recall unpleasant events or situations. If you can utilize these two approaches, you’ll start to build confidence.
Chapter 4: How to Think Big
To become a big thinker, we must develop a big thinker’s vocabulary. Try to use bright and cheerful words. For example, words that promise victory, hope, happiness, and pleasure. You should also steer clear of words that create unpleasant images of failure, defeat, and grief. Avoid saying phrases like, “We have failed. There is no point trying.” Instead, replace these phrases with more positive ones like, “Let’s keep trying and find a new angle so we can succeed.”
Practice adding value to people, objects, and yourself. In this world, you will always get back what you put out. If you don’t get back what you expected, it’s probably because you’re not adding enough value.
Stop wasting your time worrying or thinking about trivial matters. Focus your attention on big objectives.
Chapter 5: How to Think and Dream Creatively
When you believe something can be done, your mind will find ways to do it. Believing a solution will emerge will pave the way for a solution. There is no limit to self-improvement. So, start asking yourself “how” you can do better. Asking yourself this question puts your mind to work to find intelligent and creative answers.
Schwartz also suggests you aim to improve your asking and listening skills. Effectively asking and listening will help you obtain information essential for reaching sound decisions. Big people monopolize the listening while small people monopolize the talking. To complement your skill development, you should associate with people who can help you think of new ideas and new ways of doing things. Mix with people of different occupational and social interests.
Chapter 6: You Are What You Think You Are
“Most of us make two basic errors with respect to intelligence: 1. We underestimate our own brainpower. 2. We overestimate the other fellow’s brainpower.”– David Schwartz
Upgrading your thinking upgrades your actions, and this produces success. Your appearance talks to you. Therefore, if you want to think and feel important, you should look important.
Dressing a certain way will lift your spirits and build your confidence.
On top of that, your appearance talks to others. As a result, ensure others view you as an important person who is intelligent, prosperous, and dependable.
Finally, try to remember that your work is essential. If you think this way, you will receive mental signals of how to do your job better. If you are a leader, this impression will also impact your subordinates. If you think your work is important, your subordinates will think their work is important too.
Chapter 7: Manage Your Environment: Go First Class
Your mind is a product of your environment. The people you surround yourself with, the clothes you wear, the neighborhood you live in, and the food you eat all have an impact. Your environment changes how you think. Improve your environment to improve how you think.
Make your environment work for you, not against you. Don’t let suppressive forces, like negative people, defeat you. On top of that, do not let small-thinking people hold you back. Jealous people want to see you stumble. Don’t give them that satisfaction.
Throw thought poison out of your environment by avoiding gossip. Talk about people but keep these conversations positive and without gossip. Schwartz describes this approach as going first class. Go first class in everything you do as you can’t afford to go any other way.
Chapter 8: Make your Attitudes your Allies
Results come in proportion to the enthusiasm invested. Schwartz offers three actions to take to improve your attitude:
1) Dig in deeper. When you find yourself uninterested in something, dig in and learn more about it. This sets off enthusiasm.
2) Grow the “You are important” attitude. People do more for you when you make them feel important. Remember to show appreciation at every opportunity. Make people feel important and call people by their name.
3) Grow the “Service First” attitude, and watch money take care of itself. Make it a rule in everything you do: give people more than they expect to get.
Chapter 9: Think Right Toward People
Your success in any endeavor depends on the support and acceptance of other people. You are not going to achieve your goals alone. To gain this support, you have to be likable. Likability is a factor in all aspects of your life, particularly your career. Schwartz describes becoming likable as making yourself lighter to lift. That means you are easy to be around. Practice being the type of person people like. Doing so will win others’ support and put fuel into your success-building program.
Take the initiative in building friendships. Introduce yourself to others at every opportunity. Make sure you remember the other person’s name, and they will remember your name. Drop a personal note to your new acquaintances you want to get to know better.
“Don’t be a reformer. Put a little more “live and let live” into your philosophy. Most people intensely dislike being told “you’re wrong.” You have a right to your own opinion, but sometimes it’s better to keep it to yourself.”– David Schwartz
Accept human differences and limitations. Don’t expect anyone to be perfect. Remember, the other person has a right to be different. So, you should never be a reformer.
Practice conversation generosity by encouraging others to talk. Let the other person talk to you about their views, opinions, and accomplishments.
Dealing with others is easy when everything is going great. The real test comes when things go wrong. In these moments, never blame others. The thought process you have when you lose will impact how long it will be until you win.
Chapter 10: Get the Action Habit
Successful people are Activationists. Activationists are people that have developed the habit of taking action. So, do not wait for conditions to be perfect as they never will be. Instead, expect that you will encounter future obstacles and simply solve them as they arise.
Remember, ideas alone won’t bring success. Ideas have value only when you act on them.
As explained earlier, action can cure fear and produce confidence. So, you should take action now. Tomorrow, next week, and later are often synonymous with ‘never.’ To Schwartz, ‘never’ is failure in word-form.
Chapter 11: How to Turn Defeat into Victory
The difference between success and failure is found in one’s attitudes toward setbacks, handicaps, discouragements, and other disappointing situations.
Shwartz offers five tips to help you turn defeat into victory. These tips are:
- Study setbacks to pave your way to success. When you lose, you must learn from this experience. Then, use these lessons to go and win next time.
- Have the courage to be your own constructive critic. Seek out your faults and weaknesses and then correct them. This makes you a professional.
- Stop blaming luck. Research each setback and find out what went wrong. Remember, blaming luck never got anyone where they wanted to go.
- Blend persistence with experimentation. Persevere with your goal but don’t beat your head against a wall. Try new approaches and experiment.
- Remember, there is a positive side to every situation. Find it to avoid the negative outcomes associated with discouragement.
Chapter 12: Use Goals to Help You Grow
“Look at things not as they are, but as they can be. Visualization adds value to everything. A big thinker always visualizes what can be done in the future. He isn’t stuck with the present”– David Schwartz
Schwartz emphasizes the importance of having goals. Goals help you visualize where you are headed and where you want to be. Schwartz offers an 8-step process for effective goal-setting:
- Have a clear idea of where you want to go. Create an image of yourself ten years from now.
- Write out your ten-year plan. Your life is too important to be left to chance. Plan what you want to accomplish in your work, your home, and your social world.
- Surrender yourself to your desires and receive more energy and enthusiasm.
- Let your major goal be your autopilot. When you let your goal absorb you, you’ll find yourself making the right decisions to reach your goal without having to think.
- Achieve your goal one step at a time. Regard each task you perform, regardless of how insignificant it may seem, as a step toward your goal.
- Build thirty-day goals. The day-by-day effort pays off.
- Take detours in your stride. A detour simply means another route; it should never mean surrendering the goal.
- Invest in yourself. Purchase objects that build mental power and efficiency. On top of that, invest in education and idea starters.
Chapter 13: How to Think Like a Leader
Your external world is a reflection of your internal state. If you don’t present yourself as a confident person, then the world will not consider you as a person of value. So, follow Schwartz’s four steps to start thinking like a leader.
- Trade minds with the people you want to influence. It’s easy to get others to do what you want them to do if you see things through their eyes.
- In everything you do, show that you put other people first. Just give other people the type of treatment you like to receive.
- Think progress, believe in progress, push for progress. Subordinates tend to become carbon copies of their leaders. So, make yourself a leader worth copying.
- Take time out to yourself and tap into your supreme thinking power. Managed solitude can help release your creative power. Use it to find solutions to personal and business problems. So, spend some time alone daily to think. Use the thinking technique all great leaders use: confer with yourself.
Final Summary, Review, and Criticism of The Magic of Thinking Big
The way we think has the most significant impact on our chances of being successful. If we think big, we will start attracting luck and fantastic ideas. If we continue to think small, we are increasing our chances of failure. Thinking big means training yourself to see not just what is, but what can be. Visualization can further improve your chances of success.
Thinking big will leave no limit on your self-improvement. To improve your growth efficiency you must start asking yourself “how” you can do better. This simple question will encourage your mind to identify creative answers that can help you grow.
Finally, lead by example in all you do. Think, talk, act, and live the way you want subordinates to act. When you see something that ought to be done, pick up the ball and run with it. Treat every human being as important and always give people more than they expect to get.
The book is a bit outdated and falls a bit into the positive thinking craze. So, we rate it 4.2/5.
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