the magic of thinking big summary

Book Summary: The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz

The Book in Three Sentences

In this The Magic of Thinking Big summary, you’ll learn that the size of your success directly correlates to the size of your thinking. So in order to succeed big, you have to think big as well. Interestingly, there’s not a big difference between carrying out big ideas and small ones.

The Magic of Thinking Big Summary

Chapter 1: Believe You Can Succeed and You Will

Success translates into a nice home, travel, new possessions, financial security, giving better opportunities to your children, admiration from others, freedom, self-respect, and achievement. Wishful thinking isn’t the same as succeeding, but believing and having a positive attitude can make a difference. When you believe, your mind finds a way and it makes others trust you. You can’t be successful unless you truly believe in what you do. Disbelief is one of the most negative attitudes you can adopt. Respect, learn, observe, and study leaders, but never worship them.

Your mind is a factory that makes thoughts and production is in charge of two foremen: Mr. Triumph, which’s in charge of positive thoughts, and Mr. Defeat, who’s in charge of deprecating ones. They’re obedient and if you give them positive signals, Mr. Triumph will work, but if you send them negative thoughts, Mr. Defeat will take over.

Believe in yourself and believe you can succeed. To develop the power of belief:

  1. Think of success, not of failure
  2. Remember you’re better than you think
  3. Think big goals

You must develop a plan for self-development and work. This will tell you:

  1. What to do: these are the attitudes and techniques successful people use
  2. How to do it: these are a series of guidelines that focus on action
  3. Get results: these are the rewards you get (respect, admiration, being useful, and money)

Chapter 2: Cure Yourself of Excusitis: The Failure Disease

Unsuccessful people suffer from a disease the author calls “excusitis”. Thoughts, positive or negative, become more powerful with repetition, and the more frequently you repeat them, the more true they become.

These are the most common forms of “excusitis”.

  1. Using health as an excuse for failure. To stop this from happening don’t talk about your health, be grateful for your health as it is, and enjoy life.
  2. Using intelligence (or lack thereof) as an excuse for failure. This means underestimating our own intelligence and overestimating other people’s. The problem isn’t intelligence but how you use the brainpower you have. Knowledge is power as long as you put it to good use. Use your mind to think, not to store random facts you won’t use. To cure this disease never underestimate your intelligence and overestimate other people’s. Remember that attitudes are more important than intelligence, and thinking is far more important than memorizing.
  3. Using age as an excuse. This is when you believe you’re the wrong age to do something. To cure this think positively about your age and focus on what you can control instead of what you can’t, think of how much productive time you have left, and invest time in what you want to do.
  4. Using “bad luck” as an excuse. What we call accidents and bad luck are usually a series of human or mechanical failures. By the same token, if you carefully plan work and execute your plans, you can have good luck. To cure this disease accept the existence of cause and effect and don’t rely on wishful thinking.

Chapter 3: Build Confidence and Destroy Fear

To conquer fear, you first have to admit its existence. Fear is usually a product of your imagination. Fear is the enemy of success and it’s powerful. To conquer fear, you have to develop confidence and take action. Indecision feeds fear. To build confidence think positive thoughts and withdraw them when necessary.

Don’t fear other people. To put them in perspective: get a balanced view of them and remember that everyone is important including yourself. Try to be understanding.

Chapter 4: How to Think Big

Thinking big isn’t about college degrees or family backgrounds, it’s about the size of your thinking. The size of your accomplishments depends on how big you think. Self-deprecation is the biggest human weakness. Self-evaluation doesn’t give you the right to list your own faults, shortcoming, and inadequacies. Develop a big thinker’s vocabulary by using positive words to describe what you feel: use favorable words to describe others, use bright words to encourage others, and use positive words to convey your plans to others.

Don’t look at things as they are, but as how they can be. Visualize the future and don’t spend so much time stuck with the present.

Little things are what cause arguments, so eliminate petty thinking. Never bring up unimportant things. To ignore trivial matters focus on the big picture, and determine what’s important.

Chapter 5: How to Think and Dream Creatively

Creative thinking is usually associated with creative pursuits only, but the reality is that creative thinking isn’t restricted to certain occupations or particularly intelligent people. Figuring out things in imaginative ways is creative thinking and you can apply it to everyday life. To develop this ability, you first have to believe you can do it and that you’ll figure it out somehow. This means removing the word “impossible” from your vocabulary and being progressive instead of regressive. To improve your creativity, encourage others to talk, ask for their opinions and focus on what they say. You can also meet with professional groups that belong to the same occupational area as you, or join a group outside your interests. Once you’ve gotten ideas, don’t let them get away: write them down, review them often, cultivate them, and never stop self-learning.

Chapter 6: You Are What You Think You Are

Some people receive admiration, respect, loyalty, and confidence while others don’t and they also happen to be the most successful. Why? Because of their thinking. Unconsciously, we receive the treatment we think we deserve. If you think you’re inferior, you’ll be treated that way, regardless of who you are.

  • Look important and you’ll think you’re important: the way you talk communicates things about you, so make sure you say nice things. Dressing the right way pays off. When it comes to clothing, choose quality over quantity and you’ll see results in no time. Clothes will last longer, they’ll stay in style longer, and you’ll receive better advice.
  • Think the work you’re doing is important: regardless of what you do if you think what you do is important, you’ll get respect and success. The leaders’ attitudes affect their subordinates, so be enthusiastic about your job.
  • Talk positively of yourself: practice self-praise by thinking about your assets.
  • Think the same way important people think: put yourself in the shoes of a successful person you respect and think about how that person would react.

Chapter 7: Manage Your Environment: Go First Class

Your mind is so powerful that it could lead you to success or failure. Your mind is a result of what you consume and what you’re exposed to. In other words, your environment. Your psychological environment (the people around you) determines your trajectory.

To make the future environment pay off:

  • Condition yourself for success: by thinking that a specific achievement is beyond yourself, you’re putting an obstacle in front of you. In life, there are three groups of people: those who surrender completely, those who surrender partially due to fear, and those who never surrender and breathe success. To be part of the third group, we must fight the negative influences of our environment. If you have big ideas, big people won’t laugh at you because they know that what you suggest is possible. Ignore the opinions of mediocre people and don’t let them sabotage your plans. You’re judged by the people you surround yourself with, so associate with people who think right.
  • Look for advice from people who know: despite what everyone believes, successful people aren’t inaccessible. A lot of them can be humble and eager to help. Look for advice from the most successful people you can find. To improve your social environment frequent new groups, make new friends, and choose friends who think differently than you.

Chapter 8: Make Your Attitudes Your Allies

Our attitudes reflect what we think. We express our attitude through expressions, voice, or body language. Having the right attitude makes a big difference. To do so, be enthusiastic and this will motivate others around you. You can be more enthusiastic by learning more about a topic. Put life into everything you do and be the bearer of good news. Be positive, listen to people’s problems, and give them hope.

Everyone wants to feel important, so grant people this wish. They’ll do more for you and you’ll feel better. To make people feel important practice appreciation through compliments, call people by their names, and share the credit with others.

Never put money first. Service always comes first and by doing so, money will follow. A way of doing this is by giving people more than they expect.

Chapter 9: Think Right Toward People

No one makes it on their own. Success depends on the support of others. Think the best of people. To like people remember their names, be nice to hand around, be relaxed and easygoing, don’t be egotistical, be interesting, let go of your bad qualities, let go of bad grudges, genuinely like people, and give spiritual strength to others.

When we try to buy a friendship, we waste money and create disdain. When you have problems with someone else, accept that no one is perfect, everyone has the right to be different, and don’t try to “fix” others. The most successful people are also the ones who practice conversation generosity, they encourage others to talk among themselves. They do this to win friends and genuinely learn about others.

Chapter 10: Get the Action Habit

There are a lot of qualified people, but most of them don’t get things done when the time comes. Sometimes it isn’t about knowing the theory, but about putting it into practice. Ideas are great, but it’s all about execution. Conditions will never be perfect for you to act, so always expect obstacles. Getting ready to start is a waste of time. You don’t need to get ready, so just start.

Chapter 11: How to Turn Defeat into Victory

There’s not a big difference between someone who’s mediocre and someone who’s defeated. Both kinds of people give excuses about their current situation. In fact, someone who’s mediocre feels defeated even if he or she isn’t. What differs between mediocre/defeated people and someone successful is their reaction to defeat. Successful people learn from their mistakes and move on in an upward direction. Being successful isn’t about having no obstacles, but using them to propel you forward.

Be self-critical, identify your weaknesses, and use them to improve. Never blame others for your situation and remember that bad luck doesn’t exist. There’s always a way to change things and you have to be willing to start from scratch if you have to.

Chapter 12: Use Goals to Help You Grow

Everything that humans created was visualized first and then made a reality. A goal isn’t a dream, but a purpose. Without goals, there’s no compass to guide your actions. You can’t find success without goals. The easiest ways to kill success are: self-deprecating, being safe, blaming the competition, letting others choose your profession for you, and blaming it on your family.

Big achievements are a series of small achievements and they have to be built on a solid foundation. Make each action a step in the right direction.

Although setting goals is important, you might detour at some point and that’s fine. You might get to the same destination but through a different road. The most rewarding type of investment is self-investment and you can get it by investing in education and idea starters, such as books, magazines, and newspapers.

Chapter 13: How to Think Like a Leader

Success and the ability to lead people are connected. Here are some rules about success:

  1. Trade minds with the people you want to influence
  2. Treat others well
  3. Think about progress, believe in progress, and push for progress
  4. Have uninterrupted time to think. There are two ways to think about something directed (you think about the problem head-on) or undirected (you let your mind wander).

Further Reading

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