The Magic of Thinking Big

The Magic of Thinking Big book cover by David J. Schwartz
A life-changing book to get you to think and achieve bigger.

When little people try to drive you down, think big. To be sure, there are some people who want you to lose, to experience misfortune, to be reprimanded. But these people can’t hurt you if you’ll remember three things:

  1. You win when you refuse to fight petty people. Fighting little people reduces you to their size. Stay big.
  2. Expect to be sniped at. It’s proof you’re growing.
  3. Remind yourself that snipers are psychologically sick. Be Big. Feel sorry for them.
  4. Think Big Enough to be immune to the attacks of petty people.

When That “I-Haven’t-Got-What-It-Takes” feeling creeps up on you, think big. Remember: if you think you are weak, you are. Whip that natural tendency to sell yourself short with these tools:

  1. Look important. It helps you think important. How you look on the outside has a lot to do with how you feel on the inside.
  2. Concentrate on your assets. Build a sell-yourself-to-yourself commercial and use it. Learn to supercharge yourself. Know your positive self.
  3. Put other people in proper perspective. The other person is just another human being, so why be afraid of him?
  4. Think Big Enough to see how good you really are!

When an argument or quarrel seems inevitable, think big. Successfully resist the temptation to argue and quarrel by:

  1. Asking yourself, “Honestly now, is this thing really important enough to argue about?”
  2. Reminding yourself, you never gain anything from an argument but you always lose something.
  3. Think big enough to see that quarrels, arguments, feuds, and fusses will never help you get where you want to go.

When you feel defeated, think big. It is not possible to achieve large success without hardships and setbacks. But it is possible to live the rest of your life without defeat. Big thinkers react to setbacks this way: Regard the setback as a lesson. Learn from it. Research it. Use it to propel you forward. Salvage something from every setback. Blend persistence with experimentation. Back off and start afresh with a new approach. Think Big Enough to see that defeat is a state of mind, nothing more.

When romance starts to slip, think big. Negative, petty, “She’s-(He’s)-unfair-to-me-so-I’ll-get-even” type of thinking slaughters romance, destroys the affection that can be yours. Do this when things aren’t going right in the love department:

  1. Concentrate on the biggest qualities in the person you want to love you. Put little things where they belong—in second place.
  2. Do something special for your mate—and do it often.
  3. Think Big Enough to find the secret to marital joys.

When you feel your progress on the job is slowing down, think big. No matter what you do and regardless of your occupation, higher status, higher pay come from one thing: increasing the quality and quantity of your output. Do this: Think, “I can do better.” The best is not unattainable. There is room for doing everything better. Nothing in this world is being done as well as it could be. And when you think, “I can do better,” ways to do better will appear. Thinking “I can do better” switches on your creative power. Think Big Enough to see that if you put service first, money takes care of itself.

The successful person in any field takes time out to confer with himself or herself. Leaders use solitude to put the pieces of a problem together, to work out solutions, to plan, and, in one phrase, to do their superthinking.

Over a period of time, subordinates tend to become carbon copies of their chief. The simplest way to get high-level performance is to be sure the master copy is worth duplicating.

Every year many corporations that have grown sluggish and are headed downward are rebuilt. And how? By changing a handful of executives at the top. Companies (and colleges and churches and clubs and unions and all other types of organizations) are successfully rebuilt from the top down, not from the bottom up. Change the thinking at the top, and you automatically change the thinking at the bottom.

A man big enough to be humble appears more confident than the insecure man who feels compelled to call attention to his accomplishments. A little modesty goes a long way.

Persons who rise to tremendous leadership heights use a third approach that we call “Being Human.”

Sometimes it appears that someone achieves success all at once. But if you check the past histories of people who seemed to arrive at the top suddenly, you’ll discover a lot of solid groundwork was previously laid. And those “successful” people who lose fame as fast as they found it simply were phonies who had not built a solid foundation.

Use goals to live longer. No medicine in the world—and your physician will bear this out—is as powerful in bringing about long life as is the desire to do something.

Five weapons are used to commit success suicide. Destroy them. They’re dangerous.

  1. Self-deprecation. You have heard dozens of people say, “I would like to be a doctor (or an executive or a commercial artist or in business for myself) but I can’t do it.”
  2. “Security-itis.” Persons who say, “I’ve got security where I am” use the security weapons to murder their dreams.
  3. Competition. “The field is already overcrowded” is a remark which kills desire fast.
  4. Parental dictation. What all intelligent parents want is to see their children live successfully. If the young person will patiently explain why he or she prefers a different career, and if the parent will listen, there will be no friction. The objectives of both the parent and the young person for the young person’s career are identical: success.
  5. Family responsibility. The attitude of “It would have been wise for me to change over five years ago, but now I’ve got a family and I can’t change,” illustrates this kind of desire murder weapon.

Five guideposts to help you turn defeat into victory are:

  1. Study setbacks to pave your way to success. When you lose, learn, and then go on to win next time.
  2. Have the courage to be your own constructive critic. Seek out your faults and weaknesses and then correct them. This makes you a professional.
  3. Stop blaming luck. Research each setback. Find out what went wrong. Remember, blaming luck never got anyone where they wanted to go.
  4. Blend persistence with experimentation. Stay with your goal but don’t beat your head against a stone wall. Try new approaches. Experiment.
  5. Remember, there is a good side in every situation. Find it. See the good side and whip discouragement.

Persisting in one way is not a guarantee of victory. But persistence blended with experimentation does guarantee success.

It is true that in this complex world others may trip us. But it is also true that more often than not we trip ourselves. We lose because of personal inadequacy, some personal mistake.

It is not possible to win high-level success without meeting opposition, hardship, and setback. But it is possible to use setbacks to propel you forward.

Action feeds and strengthens confidence; inaction in all forms feeds fear. To fight fear, act. To increase fear—wait, put off, postpone.

The test of a successful person is not the ability to eliminate all problems before he takes action, but rather the ability to find solutions to difficulties when he encounters them. In business, marriage, or in any activity, cross bridges when you come to them.

A lot of passivationists got that way because they insisted on waiting until everything was 100 percent favorable before they took action. Perfection is highly desirable. But nothing man-made or man-designed is, or can be, absolutely perfect. So to wait for the perfect set of conditions is to wait forever.

The person who does the most talking and the person who is the most successful are rarely the same person. Almost without exception, the more successful the person, the more he practices conversation generosity, that is, he encourages the other person to talk about himself, his views, his accomplishments, his family, his job, his problems. Conversation generosity paves the way to greater success in two important ways:

  1. Conversation generosity wins friends.
  2. Conversation generosity helps you learn more about people.

We can find much to dislike in almost anyone. By the same token, if we manage our thinking properly, if we think right toward people, we can find many qualities to like and admire in the same person.

When you make a pleasant remark to a stranger, you make him feel one degree better. This makes you feel better and helps you relax. Every time you say something pleasant to another person, you compensate yourself. It’s like warming up your automobile on a cold morning.

It’s a mark of real leadership to take the lead in getting to know people. Next time you are in a large group, observe something very significant: the most important person present is the one person most active in introducing himself.

We are lifted to higher levels by those who know us as likable, personable individuals. Every friend you make lifts you just one notch higher. And being likable makes you lighter to lift.

A person is not pulled up to a higher-level job. Rather, he is lifted up. In this day and age nobody has time or patience to pull another up the job ladder, degree by painful degree. The individual is chosen whose record makes him stand higher than the rest.

  1. Grow the “I’m activated” attitude. Results come in proportion to the enthusiasm invested. Three things to do to activate yourself are: Dig into it deeper. When you find yourself uninterested in something, dig in and learn more about it. This sets off enthusiasm. Life up everything about you: your smile, your handshake, your talk, even your walk. Act alive. Broadcast good news. No one ever accomplished anything positive telling bad news.
  2. Grow the “You are important” attitude. People do more for you when you make them feel important. Remember to do these things: Show appreciation at every opportunity. Make people feel important. Call people by 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.

Always give people more than they expect to get. Each little extra something you do for others is a money seed.

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.

Everywhere you see people with a “money-first” attitude. Yet these same people always have little money. Why? Simply this: 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.

Practice calling people by their names. Every year shrewd manufacturers sell more briefcases, pencils, computers, and hundreds of other items just by putting the buyer’s name on the product. People like to be called by name. It gives everyone a boost to be addressed by name.

Don’t waste time or mental energy trying to classify people as “very important persons,” “important persons,” or “unimportant persons.” Make no exceptions. A person, whether he is garbage collector or company vice president, is important to you. Treating someone as second-class never gets you first-class results.

You must feel important to succeed. Helping others to feel important rewards you because it makes you feel more important. Try it and see.

When you help others feel important, you help yourself feel important too.

It pays to make “big” people feel even bigger. The big thinker always adds value to people by visualizing them at their best. Because he thinks big about people, he gets their best out of them.

It pays to make “little” people feel like big people. Today, in thousands of offices all over America, secretaries are helping salesmen make sales or lose sales depending on how the salesman has treated them. Make someone feel important, and he cares about you. And when he cares about you, he does more for you.

People rate you for quality, often subconsciously perhaps. Develop an instinct for quality. It pays. And it costs no more, often costs less, than second class.

Thought poison is subtle, but it accomplishes ‘big” things. It reduces the size of our thinking by forcing us to concentrate on petty, unimportant things. It warps and twists our thinking about people because it is based on a distortion of facts, and it creates a guilt feeling in us that shows through when we meet the person we’ve gossiped about.

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.

The number one obstacle on the road to high-level success is the feeling that major accomplishment is beyond reach. This attitude stems from many, many suppressive forces that direct our thinking toward mediocre levels.

Experts agree that the person you are today, your personality, ambitions, present status in life, are largely the result of your psychological environment. And experts agree also that the person you will be one, five, ten, twenty years from now depends almost entirely on your future environment.

Prolonged association with negative people makes us think negatively; close contact with petty individuals develops petty habits in us. On the bright side, companionship with people with big ideas raises the level of our thinking; close contact with ambitious people gives us ambition.

The job attitudes of our subordinates are direct reflections of our own job attitudes. It’s well to remember that our points of superiority—and weakness—show up in the behavior of those who report to us, just as a child reflects the attitudes of his parents.

Anyone who has ever served in the Army knows a soldier feels and thinks like a soldier when he is in uniform.

A mind that feeds only on itself soon is undernourished, becoming weak and incapable of creative progressive thought. Stimulation from others is excellent mind food.

Top-level leaders in all walks of life spend-much more time requesting advice than they do in giving it.

The bigger the person, the more apt he is to encourage you to talk; the smaller the person, the more apt he is to preach to you. Big people monopolize the listening. Small people monopolize the talking.

In business, in the home, in the community, the success combination is do what you do better (improve the quality of your output) and do more of what you do (increase the quantity of your output).

There is no one best way to do anything. There is no one best way to decorate an apartment, landscape a lawn, make a sale, rear a child, or cook a steak. There are as many best ways as there are creative minds. Nothing grows in ice. If we let tradition freeze our minds, new ideas can’t sprout.