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This week, Life Training Online is reviewing The Magic of Thinking Big, by David J. Schwartz, the twenty-fifth of fifty-two books in the 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks series.

Manage Your Environment: Go First Class

Just as what we eat is reflected in the state of our bodies, what food we choose to feed our minds has just as powerful an effect on our thoughts, habits, attitudes, and personality. The food for our minds that Schwartz is referring to here is our environment.

It’s hard to deny it. Our environment shapes us, and makes us think the way we do. For example, prolonged exposure and association to negative people makes us in turn think negatively. Associating ourselves with people who think big will raise our level of thinking. Our success is largely dependent upon what and who we choose to surround ourselves with.

So when choosing friends, select those who are interested in positive things; friends who really want to see you succeed and willingly encourage you in your plans and ideals. Find those who have common goals and desires, having a support system makes all the difference when your own motivation is in the slumps.

Make Your Attitudes Your Allies

Communication is a lot more than just the words we choose to speak. Someone may say one thing but you know that they mean something entirely different. This is what Schwartz means by ‘attitude.’ To understand someone’s attitude, we don’t listen for the words but instead discover it through expressions, voice tones and inflections.

If you’re looking to make something of yourself then you’ll need to make the following three attitudes your allies in everything you do:

  1. The attitude of I’m activated

    To be activated is another way of saying you are enthusiastic about what you’re doing. If you ever hope to get someone else excited about something you must first be excited about it yourself. Results come in proportion to enthusiasm applied.

  2. The attitude of You are important

    Every person in the world has the desire to feel important. If you can consciously and genuinely make others feel important, the world is your oyster. Customers will buy more from you, employees will work harder for you, others will cooperate more with you, and your boss will do more to help you.

  3. The attitude of Service first

    We all understand that money is necessary for our survival. Without money we can’t buy the food, clothing, shelter and other things we need. We can’t fully help the poor or enrich our families lives. Money, then, is a desirable objective.

    However, putting “money-first” in our minds does not increase money. The seed of money is in fact, service. If you have an attitude of putting service first — always giving people more than they expect to get — you’ll create wealth. Put service first and money will take care of itself.

Think Right Toward People

Success depends on the support of other people. Salesmen depend on people to buy their product, writers depend on people to read what they are writing, and politicians depend on people to vote for them.

If success is dependent upon other people’s support, how do we get others to support us then?

The answer can be summed up on one phrase, think right toward people. Schwartz relates former President Lyndon Johnson’s ten-point formula from to help you do this:

  1. Learn to remember names. Inefficiency at this point may indicate that your interest is not sufficiently outgoing.
  2. Be a comfortable person so there is no strain in being with you. Be an old-shoe, old-hat kind of individual.
  3. Acquire the quality of relaxed easy-going so that things do not ruffle you.
  4. Don’t be egotistical. Guard against the impression that you know it all.
  5. Cultivate the quality of being interesting so people will get something of value from their association with you.
  6. Study to get the “scratchy” elements out of your personality, even those of which you may be unconscious.
  7. Sincerely attempt to heal, on an honest Christian basis, ever misunderstanding you have had or now have. Drain off your grievances.
  8. Practice liking people until you learn to do so genuinely.
  9. Never miss an opportunity to say a word of congratulation upon anyone’s achievement, or express sympathy in sorrow or disappointment.
  10. Give spiritual strength to people, and they will give genuine affection to you.

Get the Action Habit

Ideas and thinking about something is not enough. Everything that we have in this world, from ships to skyscrapers to baby food, is just an idea acted upon.

If you take a comparative study of successful and average people, you’ll find that they fall into two classes. The successful are ones who are active. The average, the mediocre, the unsuccessful are passive. The active person does. The passive person is going to do but doesn’t

You can’t wait for everything to be 100 percent favorable before you take action. Most things that really mean anything require some leap of faith. Sure, perfection is highly desirable but hoping for the perfect set of conditions is to hope forever.

Make up your mind to do something with your ideas other than simply dreaming more about them. Ideas are important. We need to have ideas to create or improve anything. But ideas in and of themselves are not enough. Ideas only have value when acted upon.

How to Turn Defeat Into Victory

The difference between success and failure is found in your attitude towards setbacks, handicaps, and other disappointing situations. Here are five ways to turn defeat into victory:

  1. Learn from prior mistakes. When you have a setback, learn why it didn’t work, readjust, and then go on to win next time.
  2. Don’t just beat yourself up. Learn to be your own constructive critic. Look for your faults and weaknesses not with the intention of putting yourself down but to correct them. This is what being a “professional” is all about.
  3. Stop blaming luck. This is a cop-out. Instead, research why something went wrong. Blaming luck will never get you where you want to go, it’s only another form of ‘excusitis.’
  4. Mix up persistence with experimentation. Try to stick to your goal but at the same time, if the route you’re taking isn’t getting you anywhere, try a new approach. Experiment. There’s no sense in banging your head against a wall.
  5. Remember that there is always something good about every situation. Look for it. This will keep discouragement at bay and help you to learn from all experiences.

Use Goals to Help You Grow

A goal is more than a wish or dream. It is a dream acted upon. Without goals, people just wander through life without direction or purpose. Goals are essential to success as air is to life.

Schwartz uses the common approach to goals. That is plan where you want to be 10 years from now but work on that plan month by month. What do you see yourself doing? Where are you living? How much money are you making? What is your family situation or what is your companion like? Who are your friends? What worthwhile causes do you want to be a part of?

Not only do goals give you a sense of purpose and direction, they also give you energy. Energy increases and multiplies when you set a desired goal and resolve to work toward that goal. By surrendering yourself to your desires, and letting yourself become obsessed with a goal, you receive the physical power, energy, and enthusiasm needed to accomplish it.

How to Think Like A Leader

Remember that achieving high-level success requires the cooperation and support of others. And gaining support from others requires the ability to lead. To help you in this ability, Schwartz offers four leadership rules or principles that can cause others to do things for us in the executive suite, in business, in social clubs, in the home, or anywhere else we may find people:

  1. Trade minds with the people you want to influence.

    Here’s the key: To get others to do what you want them to do you must learn to see through their eyes. Truly “walking in their shoes” will unlock the secret of how to influence others.

  2. Think: What is the human way to handle this?

    People have all different approaches to leading others. One way is to assume the role of dictator, making all decisions without consulting those affected and not listening to subordinates. Dictators don’t last long. Sooner or later unrest begins to happen and their subordinates begin to leave.

    Another technique of leadership is the cold, mechanical, “I’m-a-rule-book operator” approach. This type of leader does everything exactly according to the book. He fails to understand the spirit of the law and ends up treating his subordinates as machines. This cold, impersonal efficiency alienates his subordinates and fails to ever inspire them.

    The leader who manages to have tremendous success and results with his followers is the leader who makes them feel human. This type of leader genuinely thinks that everyone under his stewardship is both important and needed in the organization. This builds respect and trust and forms the foundation whereupon they can be inspired and motivated.

  3. Think progress, believe in progress, push for progress.

    To develop a progressive mindset, follow these two maxims: Think improvement in everything you do and think high standards in everything you do.

    Those who are constantly looking to expand, make things more efficient, develop new products and processes, and increase prosperity will naturally develop a following. People tend to follow after those who think, believe and push for progress.

  4. Take time out to confer with yourself.

    Like machines, we require a period of maintenance and a “tuning-up.” This is best accomplished when you take time out in managed solitude. In other words, find a moment every week where you can — in solitude — spend some time just thinking. This is a tool that all great users use. Use this time to confer with yourself, to discover solutions to personal and business problems, and generally tap into a higher consciousness that only solitude and moments of quiet can bring.

The Magic of Thinking Big is the twenty-fifth of fifty-two books in Life Training – Online’s series 52 Personal Development Books in 52 Weeks.


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