This week we will be breaking down the first 3 chapters of The Magic of Thinking Big. If you haven’t had a chance to purchase the book yet click here to get it from Amazon.
What is this book about?
As I mentioned in the May book introduction post, this book is focused on how our mindset affects the results that we achieve in our lives. The author, David J Schwartz, believes that key to success is in the way we think, and the size of our thinking. He says, “All of us, more than we recognize, are products of the thinking around us. And much of this thinking is little, not big.”
Over the next four weeks we are going to dive deep into this book to challenge the way we think, and ultimately create – or strengthen – an empowering way of thinking that we can use to create the success we want in every area of our lives. As Mr. Schwartz says, “Think Big and you’ll live big. You’ll live big in happiness. You’ll live big in accomplishment. Big in income. Big in friends. Big in respect.”
You Have to Believe
In the first chapter of the book the author breaks down the difference between a belief and a wish. According to him, “You can’t wish yourself into an executive suite. Nor can you wish yourself into a five-bedroom, three-bath house or the high-income brackets. You can’t wish yourself into a position of leadership.” However, “you can move a mountain with belief. You can win success by believing you can succeed.”
I really like the illustration he uses in the book, where he talks about Mr. Triumph and Mr. Defeat. If you remember, he explains how either one will occupy your mind. He says that they are “intensely obedient.” According to the book we have the ability to choose which one of these two “foreman” we put to work in our lives.
Two of the areas of my life where I have seen this have the greatest effects are in my golf game and my workouts.
The second I tell myself, “I am never going to be able to lift this much weight” or “I don’t think I can pull off this shot” is the exact second that my ability to succeed at either completely goes away. However, when I tell myself I can succeed, when I tell myself that “I’ve got this” I somehow seem to dramatically increase my chances of success.
This is why golf is so dang hard!
It’s really easy to let yourself get down from a bad shot, but the ability to be confident in your skills, and the ability to bounce back to a positive mindset is unbelievably important. If you golf, next time you find yourself getting down from a poor shot, think about this topic and see how much simply changing your mindset about the next shot helps you.
So how do you develop belief?
Mr. Schwartz breaks this down into a simple 3 step process:
- “Think success, don’t think failure.” Choose to have the positive attitude that says “I can do this!”
- “Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are.” Some people think that just because they aren’t tearing themselves down that they are on the right track. But it takes more than that. You have to get into a habit of building yourself up by constantly reminding yourself that “you are better than you think you are.”
- “Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief.” Have you ever noticed that when you believe you can achieve something you tend to get what you believed you would get, but nothing more? Try increasing the size of your belief. You may still only get as much as you believed you would get, but by having a bigger belief you will be able to achieve more.
Sounds pretty simple right? Well to some extent it is. However, developing a new habit of thinking this way can be hard because there are a number of things that will try to sabotage your new way of thinking.
Excusitis: The Disease That Will Sabotage Your Thinking
Have you ever noticed how people who haven’t had much success in life always have a reason why? And they don’t hold back from telling you that reason. In fact many times they volunteer it without you ever even bring the topic up.
I hate these people!
Let’s do a fast little exercise. Think of the most successful person you know. Do you have them pictured in your mind? Now, when is the last time you can recall hearing them give you a reason they failed at something?
I’d be willing to bet you are having a hard time thinking of an example of the last time this happened.
Is this because people who are successful don’t ever fail at things?
Of course not!
The difference is that they understand that failure is a part of life. In fact, without failure most people would never experience the levels of success they have achieved.
However, what sets them apart is the fact that they are much better about avoiding the excuses that are so common for most people to fall victim too.
According to the book we have to avoid the four common areas of excusitis:
- Health. Its super common to hear people blame their health for why they can’t do something. How can you avoid this? Make it a point not to talk about, or worry about, your health. Instead focus on how grateful you are to be in overall good health.
- Intelligence. Have you ever heard someone say they are not smart enough to do something? Has that person ever been you? I have good news for you… you are smart enough to achieve anything you believe you can achieve.You may not have all the knowledge you need, but you have all the brains you need, which means you can learn anything you need to know.
- Age. This one is another one so common you have probably caught yourself saying it at some point. Guess what? There are very few things in this life that are age dependent. Your age does not determine what you can or cannot achieve. Instead, find a way to look at your age positively. Spin the negative into an advantage.
- Luck. I’m not sure who originally said it, but there is a quote I love about luck that says, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.” Don’t let luck – or lack there of – become an excuse. If you want more luck, go make more things happen. As he says in the book, “You’ll find that not luck but preparation, planning, and success-producing thinking preceded his good fortune.”
Confidence is the Enemy of Fear
In chapter 3 of the book, the author teaches how we can pin down fear to destroy it, and ultimately build confidence in its place.
There are some fears that are rational, like the fear of spiders. After all they can kill you. However, there are also other fears that are completely irrational.
Regardless of whether your fear is rational or irrational, it is real. Some people say that you should just tell yourself that your fear isn’t real, but does that actually work?
According to the book the answer is no. The author talks about how the idea of telling yourself that the thing you are afraid of is “only in your imagination” doesn’t help to cure the fear.
So what is the cure to fear?
The book says that “Action cures fear.” But the type of action we take to cure the fear is dependent on the type of fear we have. For example in the book the author says a way to cure the fear of what others think and say about us is to “Make sure that what you plan to do is right. Then do it. No one ever does anything worthwhile for which he is not criticized.”
No matter what type of fear you have, you can find a type of action to take to cure the fear.
Like with my fear of spiders, if there are too many of them in my house I could just burn it down. Then I would no longer have to be afraid.
Ok…That’s a joke. I wouldn’t actually burn my house down.
I would just move to a different home.
Anyway…once you have been able to identify and cure the fear, its time to build confidence in its place.
In the book, the author shows us how confidence comes from our “memory bank” and our “memory bank teller” will show us whatever we ask for. If we focus on depositing only empowering, positive, confident thoughts into our memory bank, we will only be served up those kinds of thoughts when we come calling.
But if we fill out memory bank with fear and negative thoughts we will be served those memories when we come calling.
That’s great news right? It means that we get to determine the type of memories we will focus on.
So how do we build confidence to take the place of our fears?
The book tells us to do the following:
- Be a front seater. I never did this in college, but if I could go back I would make sure I always sat in the front of the class.
- Practice making eye contact. This means solid eye contact, not creepy staring into someones soul type of eye contact. You want to connect with the person you are talking to, not freak them out.
- Walk 25% faster. I’ve got this one down. If you have ever walked next to me you know I like to walk fast. Turns out this is a way to build confidence. Next time you are walking somewhere take note of the speed you are walking, and then challenge yourself to pick up the pace.
- Practice speaking up. Have you ever found yourself in a class, or a meeting, with something good to contribute but too afraid to say it? I know I have. Next time this happens to you, don’t hold back. Speak up and share your thoughts.
- Smile big. Have you ever noticed that when you talk to someone who is smiling, you find that you end up smiling as well. And usually you enjoy the conversation a lot more. Make it a habit to smile when you talk, and I bet you will find you get smiles in return!
Remember, FEAR is just a False Reality Appearing Real, so next time you find yourself afraid to do something, just do it anyway.
Unless it involves spiders, then run like hell.
My Favorite Quotes
- Think Big and you’ll live big. You’ll live big in happiness. You’ll live big in accomplishment. Big in income. Big in friends. Big in respect.
- Success—achievement—is the goal of life!
- Think doubt and fail. Think victory and succeed.
- Believe in yourself, and good things do start happening.
- Believe, really believe, you can succeed, and you will.
- The only wise thing to do is fire Mr. Defeat. You don’t need him. You don’t want him around telling you that you can’t, you’re not up to it, you’ll fail, and so on.
- When you face a difficult situation, think, “I’ll win,” not “I’ll probably lose.”
- Think little goals and expect little achievements. Think big goals and win big success.
Remember this, too! Big ideas and big plans are often easier—certainly no more difficult—than small ideas and small plans.
- Persons who reach the top rungs in business management, selling, engineering, religious work, writing, acting, and in every other pursuit get there by following conscientiously and continuously a plan for self-development and growth.
- Go deep into your study of people, and you’ll discover unsuccessful people suffer a mind-deadening thought disease. We call this disease excusitis.
- Persons with mediocre accomplishments are quick to explain why they haven’t, why they don’t, why they can’t, and why they aren’t.
- Thoughts, positive or negative, grow stronger when fertilized with constant repetition.
- Just enough sense to stick with something—a chore, task, project—until it’s completed pays off much better than idle intelligence, even if idle intelligence be of genius caliber.
- We can’t do much to change the amount of native ability, but we can certainly change the way we use what we have.
- If luck determined who does what and who goes where, every business in the nation would fall apart.
- People who rise to the top in any occupation—business management, selling, law, engineering, acting, or what have you—get there because they have superior attitudes and use their good sense in applied hard work.
- Action cures fear. Indecision, postponement, on the other hand, fertilize fear.
- To think confidently, act confidently.
It’s Action Time
- Identify a fear and an action to cure it. This week I am going to encourage you to take 30 minutes (or less) to sit down and write out some of the things you are afraid to do. Many times these things are the things that we really want to do, and usually things that could have a major positive impact on our lives. Once you have a list go ahead and pick one of them, hopefully the one with the largest upside, and commit to do it this week. Identify at least one action you can take to push you past this fear and on your way to success.
- Share with the group. One of the best ways to follow through with something is to have some accountability. Share your fear and your action item in the Facebook group, or with your accountability buddy (if you still have one from last month’s exercise.)
Coming Up Next…
Next week we will be coving the Chapters 4-6 of The Magic of Thinking Big. See you next week!