How Successful People Think is a book by John C. Maxwell. It explains the types of thinking successful people use. I explain the 3 thinking strategies that made the greatest impact on my life.
Bill and Phil both have a million dollars. Bill became a millionaire from winning the lottery, Phil did it through his business.
If we take away their money, Bill would be poor. But Phil would probably know how to make it all back.
The difference between a successful person and an average person, isn’t in what they own, but in how they think.
The first type of thinking successful people use is Big-Picture Thinking:
When we look around, we see a world full of people who worry about everyday unimportant things.. When should I pay my taxes. What should I watch next on netflix, while neglecting the things that REALLY MATTER like exercise, and taking care of our bodies. Those are the things that really matter in the long run. Whereas not paying your cellphone bill till next week isn’t going to be the end of the world.
It sort of reminds me of a donkey with a carrot dangling in front of it. The donkey is blind to everything except the carrot..
Successful people look at the BIG PICTURE.
So in terms of the donkey analogy, they would look in the direction the carrot is guiding it to. An even smarter donkey, would look beyond that, and see that the person riding it controls the carrot. The donkey is then able to plan a strategy to get the carrot, maybe the donkey could refuse to move until the person lets it have a bite. The main point is that big picture thinking opens up opportunities by allowing us to see the whole situation. Someone who doesn’t use big-picture thinking, is like the donkey who’s fixated on the carrot, blind to everything else.
When I was in college, my classmates would study so hard to achieve that A+. And when I asked them what they plan to do after graduation, most of them don’t know. Then why are they aiming for the A when a C plus is all that’s required for the degree? I’m not saying that it’s bad to aim for the A, but it’s important to realize why we are doing it.
Let’s say you start a youtube channel, on book reviews, and it becomes fairly successful, what are you going to do next, what do you hope to accomplish. Those are the answers we should constantly seek when we use big-picture thinking. I make these entertaining videos on success, but that’s just the beginning. It’s just a stepping stone to improving the world so that individuals like you and I, who want to achieve success, have the opportunity to access the resources to make that a reality.
Big picture thinking is very effective in helping us discover our goals. As the weird cat from Alice in wonderland would say, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
The second type of thinking, is Focused Thinking:
While big picture thinking helps keep us on track, focused thinking allows us to complete individual tasks.
I remember when I wrote a 10 page paper back in college: I would work on my paper a bit each day, but I didn’t really get much done. It wasn’t until the night before it was due, when I decided to spend 5 continuous hours on it, that I was able to be productive.
Sometime after the first hour, all my thoughts suddenly fell into place and I wrote page after page, non-stop. That is the power of focused thinking.
It takes a while for our minds to focus. In my case, it took about an hour. But once we are in that state, the rest takes care of itself..
Focused thinking can be developed, just like willpower. One of my friends Matthew, could sit for hours studying any textbook you put in front of him. That’s how he receives A pluses in every single class he’s in.
Someone who possesses big-picture thinking, but lacks focus ends up either being a dreamer who never accomplishes anything, or someone who jumps from task to task.
A successful person is able to use both types of thinking and knows when to switch between the two.
Finally, there’s Realistic Thinking:
When I first heard the words “Realistic thinking”, I pictured small thinkers who believe that something that has never been done means that it cannot be done.
A vehicle that can make humans fly? Impossible!
Realistic thinking involves asking “what could go wrong”. And, while it’s true that a lot of small thinkers are also realistic thinkers, a big thinker can develop the skill as well.
Just like a game of chess. When we think of different moves our opponent could make, we could come up with strategies to counter it, so when they do make their move, we’ll be more prepared than someone else who didn’t think ahead.
Realistic thinking, in a sense, is opening our minds to every possibility and thinking of what to do in each case.
The difference between good realistic thinking and bad realistic thinking is WHY we’re ask those questions. The average person asks “What could go wrong?” as a way to decide whether or not they should pursue something, whereas the successful person asks that question to find a way to modify their idea, to make it work better.
Realistic thinking is a great skill to have. In our lives, we’re going to come across people who offer realistic comments, and our first reaction might be to ignore them. Now that we know the value realistic thinking provides, maybe we can be more accepting of critical comments.
Just like most success concepts, don’t overdo it. Using realistic thinking to anticipate potential setbacks is good, but thinking of too many ways something could go wrong, would only waste time, and cause worry. In other words, don’t be the person who reads three books on tennis before actually playing their first game.
To recap, successful people know the importance of big-picture thinking, they’re able to focus when they want to, and they’re also realistic thinkers.