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Book:  The Magic of Thinking Big

Author:  David Schwartz

Purchase:  Print | eBook | Audiobook

Citation:  Schwartz, D. (2015). The magic of thinking big. New York: Touchstone.

Three Big Takeaways:
  1. Don't let ideas escape. Write them down. Every day lots of good ideas are born to die quickly because they aren't nailed to paper. Carry a notebook or some small cards with you. When you get an idea, write it down. People with fertile, creative minds know a good idea may sprout at any time. Don't let ideas escape; else you destroy the fruits of your thinking. Also, review your ideas. File these ideas in an active file. Build a file and then examine your storehouse of ideas regularly. As you go over your ideas some may have no value at all. Get rid of them. So long as the idea has promise, keep it. (pg. 122)

  2. When you listen to conversations, note two things: which person in the conversation does the most talking and which person is more successful. 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. He encourages the other person to talk about himself, his views, his accomplishments. The average person would rather talk about himself than anything else in this world. When you give him the chance, he likes you for it. Conversation generosity is the easiest, simplest, and surest way there is to win a friend. (pg. 207)

  3. I tried to think only of the next paragraph, not the next page and certainly not the next chapter. Thus, for six solid months, I never did anything but set down one paragraph after another. The book "wrote itself." Start marching toward your ultimate goal by making the next task you perform, regardless of how unimportant it may seem, a step in the right direction. Commit this question to memory and use it to evaluate everything you do: "Will this help take me where I want to go?" If the answer is no, back off; if yes, press ahead. We do not make one big jump to success. We get there one step at a time. An excellent plan is to set monthly quotas for accomplishment. (pg. 265)


Other Key Ideas

Refuse to talk about your health. The more you talk about an ailment, the worse it seems to get. Besides, talking about your health is a bad habit. It bores people. It makes one appear self-centered. Success-minded people defeat the natural tendency to talk about their "bad" health. One may get a little sympathy, but one doesn't get respect and loyalty by being a chronic complainer. Also, be genuinely grateful your health is as good as it is. Instead of complaining about "not feeling good," it's far better to be glad you are healthy as you are. Just being grateful for the health you have is a powerful vaccination against developing new aches and pains and real illness. (pg. 31)

Be a front seater. Ever notice in meetings, church, classrooms, how the back seats fill up first? Most folks scramble to sit in the back rows so they won't be "too conspicuous." And the reason they are afraid to be conspicuous is that they lack confidence. Sitting up front builds confidence. Practice it. From now on make it a rule to sit as close to the front as you can. Sure, you may be a little more conspicuous in the front, but remember, there is nothing inconspicuous about success. (pg. 69)

Practice speaking up. In working with many kinds of groups of all sizes, I've watched many people with keen perception and much ability freeze and fail to participate in discussions. It isn't that these folks don't want to get in and wade with the rest. Rather, it's a simple lack of confidence. Each time an individual fails to speak, he feels even more inadequate, more inferior. Often he makes the faint promise to himself to speak "next time." Each time he fails to speak, he takes one more dose of confidence poison. He becomes less and less confident in himself. But the most you speak up, the more you add to your confidence, and the easier it is to speak up the next time. Never worry about looking foolish. You won't. For each person who doesn't agree with you, odds are another person will. (pg. 71)

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. Top-level leaders in all walks of life must spend more time requesting advice than they do giving it. Before a top man makes a decision, he asks, "How do you feel about it?" "What do you recommend?" "What would you do under these circumstances?" "How does this sound to you?" (pg. 116)

Test your own views in the form of questions. Let other people help you smooth and polish your ideas. Use the what-do-you-think-of-this-suggestion? approach. Don't announce a fresh idea as if it were handed down on a gold tablet. Do a little informal research first. See how your associates react to it. If you do, chances are you'll end up with a better idea. (pg. 118)

When you set a goal, you receive the "automatic instrumentation" needed to keep you going straight to your objective. The most amazing thing about a deeply entrenched goal is that it keeps you on course to reach your target. When you surrender to your goal, the goal works itself into your subconscious mind. The goal gives you specific direction in all activities. Should you drive a little off course, the automatic instrumentation alerts you and tells you want to do to get back on course. (pg. 260)

On occasion all of us have woken up on Saturday morning with no plans, no agenda either mental or written that spells out what we're going to do. On days like that we accomplish next to nothing. We aimlessly drift through the day, glad when it's finally over. But when we face the day with a plan, we get things done. This common experience provides an important lesson: to accomplish something, we must plan to accomplish something. (pg. 262)

When dismissing someone remember this: "Whoever is under a man's power is under his protection too. We should never have hired this man in the first place because he's not cut out for this kind of work. But since we did, the least I could do was help him to relocate. Anyone can hire a man. But the test of leadership is how one handles the dismissal. By helping an employee relocate before they leave builds up a feeling of job security in everyone in the department. (pg. 284)

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