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

Here’s my general summary of the book, The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz:

1. Believe You Can Succeed And You Will

  • Belief, the “I’m-positive-I-can” attitude, generates the power, skill, and energy needed to do. When you believe I-can-do-it, the how-to-do-it develops.
  • Belief is the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life. If you believe you are unimportant, your actions will follow. If you believe you are worth much, you will receive much – A person is a product of his own thoughts.
  • Your mind is a “thought factory” and is under charge of 2 foremen – Mr. Triumph and Mr. Defeat. They are both intensely obedient and will produce more of the thoughts you introduce into your mind.

How to develop the power of belief:

  1. Think success, don’t think failure.
  2. Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are.
  3. Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief.


2. Cure Yourself of Excusitis, The Failure Disease

  • All the excuses made by the mediocre fellow could be but aren’t made by the successful person.
1. “But My Health Isn’t Good”
  • There is something physically wrong with everybody – it’s your mindset/perspective toward you situation that can shape your life.
  • The right attitude and one arm will beat the wrong attitude and two arms every time.
2. “But You’ve Got to Have Brains to Succeed”
  1. We underestimate our own brainpower.
  2. We overestimate the other fellow’s brainpower.
  • What really matters is not how much intelligence you have but how you use what you do have.
  • The thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than how much intelligence you may have.
  • The ability to know how to get information is more important than using the mind as a garage for facts. -Henry Ford
3. “It’s No Use. I’m Too Old (or Too Young)”
  • Don’t let your negative beliefs about your age hold you back. Your ability and skills are what matter most.
4. “But My Case Is Different; I Attract Bad Luck”
  • Accept the law of cause and effect. Take a second look at what appears to be someone’s “good luck” and you’ll find that not luck but preparation, planning, and success-producing thinking preceded his good fortune.

3. Build Confidence and Destroy Fear

  • Action cures fear. Indecision, postponement, on the other hand, fertilize fear.
  • Isolate your fear. Pin it down. Determine exactly what you are afraid of and then take action. There is some kind of action for any kind of fear.
  • Confident action produces confident thinking (Sit up front, practice making eye contact, walk 25% faster, practice speaking up, smile BIG)

4. How to Think Big

Four ways to develop the big thinker’s vocabulary:

  1. Use big, positive, cheerful words and phrases to describe how you feel.
  2. Use bright, cheerful, favorable words and phrases to describe other people.
  3. Use positive language to encourage others.
  4. Use positive words to outline plans to others.
  • See what can be, not just what is (envision)
  • Visualization adds value to everything. A big thinker always visualizes what can be done in the future. He isn’t stuck with the present.
  1. Practice adding value to things.
  2. Practice adding value to people.
  3. Practice adding value to yourself.

5. How to Think and Dream Creatively

  • When you believe something is impossible, your mind goes to work for you to prove why. But when you believe, really believe, something can be done, your mind goes to work for you and helps you find the way to do it.
    1. Become receptive to ideas
    2. Be an experimental person
  • Big people monopolize the listening. Small people monopolize the talking.
  • A leader is a decision-making human machine. Now, to manufacture anything, you’ve got to have raw material. In reaching creative decisions, the raw materials are the ideas and suggestions of others.

6. You Are What You Think You Are

  • How you think determines how you act. How you act in turn determines how others react to you.
  • The way we think toward our jobs determines how our subordinates think toward their jobs.
    1. Always show positive attitudes toward your job so that your subordinates will ‘pick up” right thinking.
    2. As you approach your job each day, ask yourself, “Am I worthy in every respect of being imitated? Are all my habits such that I would be glad to see them in my subordinates?”

Cement in your mind the question “Is this the way an important person does it?”

  1. Look important.
  2. Think your work is important.
  3. Give yourself a pep talk several times daily. Build a “sell-yourself-to-yourself” commercial (I’m important and enthusiastic)
  4. In all of life’s situations, ask yourself, “Is this the way an important person thinks?”

7. Manage Your Environments: Go First Class

You are a product of your environment – the mind reflects what its environment feeds it just as surely as the body reflects the food you feed it.

Most people you know can be classified into 3 groups:

  1. Those who surrendered completely: The majority of people who are convinced that they haven’t got what it takes and that success is for others more lucky/fortunate.
  2. Those who surrendered partially: This group includes many talented, intelligent people who eventually accept security and fear losing what they already have. The settle.
  3. Those who never surrender.
  • Go first class when you have questions. Seeking advice from a failure is like consulting a quack on how to cure cancer (“freelancer advisors”)
  • What happens on weekends and between 6pm and 9am directly affects a person’s performance from 9am to 6pm.
  • Go first class in everything you do. You can’t afford to go any other way.

8. Make Your Attitudes Your Allies

Grow the attitudes of:

  1. I am activated.
  2. I am important.
  3. Service first.
  • To activate others, to get them to be enthusiastic, you must first be enthusiastic yourself.
  • To get enthusiasm about anything – people, places, things – dig into it deeper.
  • Whenever you leave a person, ask yourself, “Does that person honestly feel better because he has talked with me?”
  • Feel important, but more importantly, make others feel important and you will in turn feel important.
  • “Put service first” is an attitude that creates wealth. Put service first, and money takes care of itself.

9. Think Right Toward People

Success depends on the support of other people. The only hurdle between you and what you want to be is the support of others.

  • A person is not pulled up to a higher-level job. Rather he is lifted up.
  • Successful people follow a plan for liking people. Do you?
  • It’s a mark of real leadership to take the lead in getting to know people.
  • The most important person present is the one person most active in introducing himself.
  • The person who does the most talking and the person who is the most successful are rarely the same person.
  • 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.
  • Don’t be a conversation hog. Listen, win friends, and learn.

10. Get The Action Habit

  • Excellent ideas are not enough. An only fair idea acted upon, and developed, is 100% better than a  terrific idea that dies because it isn’t followed up.
  • Don’t wait until the conditions are perfect. 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.
  • People who get things done in this world don’t wait for the spirit to move them; they move the spirit.
  • Every day thousands of people bury good ideas because they are afraid to act on them. And afterward, the ghosts of those ideas come back to haunt them.

11. How to Turn Defeat Into Victory

  • It is possible to match every Mr. Skid Row with a Mr. Mediocre and a Mr. Success on every score – age, intelligence, background, nationality, you name it – with one exception. The one thing you can’t match them on is their response to defeat.
  • All it took was a persistent man who never thought he was defeated.
  • Persisting in one way is not a guarantee of victory. But persistence blended with experimentation does guarantee success.

12. Use Goals to Help You Grow

  • A goal is an objective, a purpose. A goal is more than a dream; it’s a dream being acted upon. A goal is more than a hazy “Oh, I wish I could.” A goal is a clear “This is what I’m working toward.”
  • “A man is not doing much until the cause he works for possesses all there is of him.” – John Wanamker
  • Use goals to live longer. No medicine in the worlds is as powerful in bringing about long life as is the desire to do something.
  • Invest in yourself. Purchase those things that build mental power and efficiency. Invest in education. Invest in idea starters.

13. How to Think Like A Leader

  • Achieving high-level success requires the support and the cooperation of others.
  • Ask yourself:
    • “What kind of world would this world be, If everyone in it were just like me?”
    • “What kind of company would this company be, If everyone in it were just like me?”

The four leadership principles:

  1. 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’ll see things through their eyes. Ask yourself this question before you act “What would I think of this if I exchanged places with the other person?”
  2. Apply the “Be-Human” rule in your dealings with others. Ask, “What is the human way to handle this?” in everything you do. Show that you put other people first. Just give other people the kind of treatment you’d like to receive. You’ll be rewarded.
  3. Think progress, believe in progress, push for progress. Think improvement in everything you do. Think high standards in everything you do. Over a period of time subordinates tend to become carbon copies of their chief. Be sure that master copy is worthy duplicating. Make this a personal resolution: “At home, at work, in community life, if it’s progress I’m for it.”
  4. Take time out to confer with yourself and tap your supreme thinking power. Managed solitude pays off. Use it to release your creative power. Us it to find solutions to personal and business problems. So spend some time alone every day just for thinking. Use the thinking technique all great leaders use: confer with yourself.


So all in all, I think this is a great book on success principles and conditioning your mind/attitudes to think like success-oriented individuals. However if you’ve read similar books like The Science of Getting Rich, The Richest Man in Babylon, Think and Grow Rich, you’ll realize that all of these books reiterate the same principles pretty much. It’s all a mindset game, so instilling and practicing these principles on a consistent basis is the hardest part.