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Book cover for The Magic of Thinking Big

The Magic of Thinking Big

Author: David Schwartz

Rating: ★★★★★

Genre: Self-Improvement

Themes: Self-improvement, Pop psychology

Format: Kindle

Finished: April 29, 2017

Purchase link

The Magic of Thinking Big is a 1959 self-improvement book with a business-related focus. There is a lot of common wisdom in this book that not always widely applied. The majority of examples are dated, given that the specifics of the United States in 1959 were very different from today. That said, the principles at the book’s foundation are still as powerful and relevant today as they were in 1959. People haven’t changed much, but the way the world looks has.

Main takeaways

  1. Attitudes and methods of thinking have a huge impact on our performance.
  2. We have the ability to change our attitudes and outlooks.
  3. Having a bias toward action sets you ahead.
  4. Act the way you want to feel.
  5. Positivity has a big influence on our own mental state and the moods of those around us.

Kindle Highlights

All of us, more than we recognize, are products of the thinking around us.

A personnel selection executive told me that he receives 50 to 250 times as many applicants for jobs that pay $10,000 per year as for jobs that pay $50,000 a year.

Belief, strong belief, triggers the mind to figure ways and means and how-to. And believing you can succeed makes others place confidence in you.

The “Okay-I’ll-give-it-a-try-but-I-don’t-think-it-will-work” attitude produces failures.

“We need from every man who aspires to leadership—for himself and his company—a determination to undertake a personal program of self-development.

Any training program—and that’s exactly what this book is—must do three things. It must provide content, the what-to-do. Second, it must supply a method, the how-to-do-it. And third, it must meet the acid test; that is, get results.

Here are two special suggestions to help you make yourself a trained observer. Select for special study the most successful and the most unsuccessful person you know. Then, as the book unfolds, observe how closely your successful friend adheres to the success principles. Notice also how studying the two extremes will help you see the unmistakable wisdom of following the truths outlined in this book.

You will find that the more successful the individual, the less inclined he is to make excuses.

Excusitis appears in a wide variety of forms, but the worst types of this disease are health excusitis, intelligence excusitis, age excusitis, and luck excusitis.

“Diabetes is a physical condition; but the biggest damage results from having a negative attitude toward it. Worry about it, and you may have real trouble.”

His real ailment is not diabetes. Rather, he’s a victim of health excusitis. He has pitied himself into being an invalid.

The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms every time.

What really matters is not how much intelligence you have but how you use what you do have.

“A child does not need a lightning-fast mind to be a scientist, nor does he need a miraculous memory, nor is it necessary that he get very high grades in school. The only point that counts is that the child have a high degree of interest in science.”

This man uses his great brainpower to prove why things won’t work rather than directing his mental power to searching for ways to succeed.

“It’s a rare case when we pass up a young fellow because he lacks brains. Nearly always it’s attitude.”

We often hear that knowledge is power. But this statement is only a half-truth. Knowledge is only potential power. Knowledge is power only when put to use—and then only when the use made of it is constructive.

The story is told that the great scientist Einstein was once asked how many feet are in a mile. Einstein’s reply was “I don’t know. Why should I fill my brain with facts I can find in two minutes in any standard reference book?” Einstein taught us a big lesson. He felt it was more important to use your mind to think than to use it as a warehouse for facts.

“What I want around me,” he continued, “are people who can solve problems, who can think up ideas. People who can dream and then develop the dream into a practical application; an idea man can make money with me; a fact man can’t.”

Manage your brains instead of worrying about how much IQ you’ve got.

Plays and magazine articles on the topic “Why You Are Washed Up at 40” are popular, not because they represent true facts, but because they appeal to many worried minds looking for an excuse.

Age has no real relation to ability.

Don’t be a wishful thinker. Don’t waste your mental muscles dreaming of an effortless way to win success. We don’t become successful simply through luck. Success comes from doing those things and mastering those principles that produce success. Don’t count on luck for promotions, victories, the good things in life. Luck simply isn’t designed to deliver these good things. Instead, just concentrate on developing those qualities in yourself that will make you a winner.

The old “it’s-only-in-your-mind” treatment presumes fear doesn’t really exist. But it does. Fear is real. Fear is success enemy number one.

all confidence is acquired, developed.

Action cures fear.

“Why not take action to support your hope?”

What kind of performance would your car deliver if every morning before you left for work you scooped up a double handful of dirt and put it into your crankcase? That fine engine would soon be a mess, unable to do what you want it to do. Negative, unpleasant thoughts deposited in your mind affect your mind the same way. Negative thoughts produce needless wear and tear on your mental motor.

“Most individuals I try to help,” he continued, “are operating their own private museum of mental horror.

Don’t build mental monsters. Refuse to withdraw the unpleasant thoughts from your memory bank. When you remember situations of any kind, concentrate on the good part of the experience; forget the bad. Bury it. If you find yourself thinking about the negative side, turn your mind off completely.

“Underneath he’s probably a very nice guy. Most folks are.”

When you do anything that goes contrary to your conscience, you feel guilty, and this guilty feeling jams your thought processes.

To think confidently, act confidently.

Act the way you want to feel.

Philosophers for thousands of years have issued good advice: Know thyself. But most people, it seems, interpret this suggestion to mean Know only thy negative self. Most self-evaluation consists of making long mental lists of one’s faults, shortcomings, inadequacies.

When you speak or write, you are, in a sense, a projector showing movies in the minds of others. And the pictures you create determine how you and others react.

Suppose you tell a group of people, “I’m sorry to report we’ve failed.” What do these people see? They see defeat and all the disappointment and grief the word “failed” conveys. Now suppose you said instead, “Here’s a new approach that I think will work.” They would feel encouraged, ready to try again.

“Most of the rural property around here,” my friend began, “is run-down and not very attractive. I’m successful because I don’t try to sell my prospects a farm as it is. “I develop my entire sales plan around what the farm can be.

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.

People who don’t have much look at themselves as they are now. That’s all they see. They don’t see a future, they just see a miserable present.

The “I’m doing my job and that’s enough” attitude is small, negative thinking. Big thinkers see themselves as members of a team effort, as winning or losing with the team, not by themselves. They help in every way they can, even when there is no direct and immediate compensation or other reward.

To eliminate quarrels, eliminate petty thinking.

Here’s a technique that works: before complaining or accusing or reprimanding someone or launching a counterattack in self-defense, ask yourself, “Is it really important?” In most cases, it isn’t and you avoid conflict.

Keep your eyes focused on the big objective.

Creative thinking is simply finding new, improved ways to do anything. The rewards of all types of success—success in the home, at work, in the community—hinge on finding ways to do things better.

“To keep my forward thinking on the track, I’ve divided my job into four elements: customers, employees, merchandise, and promotion. All during the week I make notes and jot down ideas as to how I can improve my business. “Then, every Monday evening, I set aside four hours to review the ideas I’ve jotted down and figure out how to put the solid ones to use in the business.

Each day before you begin work, devote ten minutes to thinking “How can I do a better job today?” Ask, “What can I do today to encourage my employees?” “What special favor can I do for my customers?” “How can I increase my personal efficiency?”

Capacity is a state of mind.

Eagerly accept the opportunity to do more. It’s a compliment to be asked to take on a new responsibility. Accepting greater responsibility on the job makes you stand out and shows that you’re more valuable. When your neighbors ask you to represent them on a civic matter, accept. It helps you to become a community leader. 2. Next, concentrate on “How can I do more?” Creative answers will come. Some of these answers may be better planning and organization of your present work or taking intelligent shortcuts in your routine activities, or possibly dropping nonessential activities altogether. But, let me repeat, the solution for doing more will appear.

If you want it done, give it to a busy man. I refuse to work on important projects with persons who have lots of free time.

Use clothing as a tool to lift your spirits, build confidence.

Pay twice as much and buy half as many.

“One thing we always look for in appraising a job applicant for a client is how the applicant thinks about his present job. We are always favorably impressed when we find that an applicant thinks his present job is important, even though there may be something about it he doesn’t like. “Why? Simply this: If the applicant feels his present job is important, odds are that he will take pride in his next job, too. We’ve found an amazingly close correlation between a person’s job respect and his job performance.”

“Now, occasionally, even after we’ve carefully explained why we’re starting him out in the mail room, a young fellow feels that carrying the mail is belittling and unimportant. When this is the case, we know we’ve picked the wrong man. If he doesn’t have the vision to see that being a mail boy is a necessary, practical step to important assignments, then he has no future in the agency business

But how does one develop enthusiasm? The basic step is simple: Think enthusiastically. Build in yourself an optimistic, progressive glow, a feeling that “this is great and I’m 100 percent for it.”

The number one obstacle on the road to high-level success is the feeling that major accomplishment is beyond reach.

People who tell you it cannot be done almost always are unsuccessful people, are strictly average or mediocre at best in terms of accomplishment. The opinions of these people can be poison.

Executives today realize that what happens on weekends and between 6 P.M. and 9 A.M. directly affects a person’s performance from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. The person with a constructive off-the-job life nearly always is more successful than the person who lives in a dull, dreary home situation.

Taking an ax and chopping your neighbor’s furniture to pieces won’t make your furniture look one bit better; and using verbal axes and grenades on another person doesn’t do one thing to make you a better you or me a better me.

it’s better to have fewer things and have quality than to have many things and have junk.

And you don’t need to know any language to say “I like you” or “I despise you” or “I think you’re important” or “unimportant” or “I envy you.” You don’t need to know words or to use words to say “I like my job” or “I’m bored” or “I’m hungry.” People speak without a sound. How we think shows through in how we act. Attitudes are mirrors of the mind. They reflect thinking.

To activate others, you must first activate yourself.

In everything you do, life it up.

Transmit good news to your family. Tell them the good that happened today. Recall the amusing, pleasant things you experienced and let the unpleasant things stay buried. Spread good news. It’s pointless to pass on the bad.

Make this little test regularly to keep you on the right track. Whenever you leave a person, ask yourself, “Does that person honestly feel better because he has talked with me?”

Practice calling people by their names.

Note this difference; the first manager squandered the vice president’s praise entirely on himself. In doing so, he offended his own people. His sales force was demoralized. The second passed the praise on to her sales force, where it could do more good. This manager knew that praise, like money, can be invested to pay dividends. She knew that passing the credit on to her salespeople would make them work even harder next year.

“What can I do today to make my wife and family happy?”

People with a money-first attitude become so money conscious that they forget money can’t be harvested unless they plant the seeds that grow the money.

People with a money-first attitude become so money conscious that they forget money can’t be harvested unless they plant the seeds that grow the money. And the seed of money is service. That’s why “put service first” is an attitude that creates wealth. Put service first, and money takes care of itself.

Put service first, and money takes care of itself—always.

The waitress who concentrates on giving the best possible service needn’t worry about tips; they’ll be there.

Think right toward people.

1) Recognize the fact that no person is perfect. Some people are more nearly perfect than others, but no man is absolutely perfect. The most human quality about human beings is that they make mistakes, all kinds of them. 2. Recognize the fact that the other fellow has a right to be different. Never play God about anything. Never dislike people because their habits are different from your own or because they prefer different clothes, religion, parties, or automobiles. You don’t have to approve of what another fellow does, but you must not dislike him for doing it. 3. 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.

Thoughts breed like thoughts. There is real danger that if you listen to negative comments about another person, you too will go negative toward that person.

“Then, whenever my attention is focused on the prospect, I review the reasons why I like him.

“Customers,” says Mr. Polk, “should be treated like they are guests in my home.”

“We would never have lost him had we concentrated on his many fine qualities. And he has them. Most people do.”

What could I do to make myself deserving of the next opportunity?

Don’t waste time and energy being discouraged. Don’t berate yourself. Plan to win next time.

Dread making a certain phone call? Make it, and dread disappears. Put it off, and it will get harder and harder to make.

People who get things done in this world don’t wait for the spirit to move them; they move the spirit.

Get the “speak up” habit. Each time you speak up, you strengthen yourself. Come forward with your constructive ideas.