How Successful People Think
Review by Unity Ivongbe
Author: John Maxwell
Make no assumptions about it. There is a science to good thinking. And it has to be intentionally learnt by anyone who care enough to enjoy success in life. The good thing is that many people are already doing well in this area and all we have to do is to learn from them. This brilliant piece by John Maxwell will help you do so.
See review below and a few quotes that will get you thinking:
• Thinking models:
1: Cultivate Big-Picture Thinking 2: Engage In Focused Thinking 3: Harness Creative Thinking 4: Employ Realistic Thinking 5: Utilize Strategic Thinking 6: Explore Possibility Thinking 7: Learn From Reflective Thinking 8: Question Popular Thinking 9: Benefit from Shared Thinking 10: Practice Unselfish Thinking 11: Rely On Bottom-Line Thinking
• Possibility thinking comes from knowing less and less of how something cannot be done;
• It doesn’t take a genius IQ or twenty years of experience to find the possibility in every situation. All it takes is the right attitude, and anybody can cultivate that.
• “When our children were young and still lived at home, we used to take them on wonderful vacations every year. When we got home, they always knew that I was going to ask them two questions: “What did you like best?” and “What did you learn?” It didn’t matter whether we went to Walt Disney World or Washington, D.C. I always asked those questions. Why? Because I wanted them to reflect on their experiences.”
• Yet, experience alone does not add value to a life. It’s not necessarily experience that is valuable; it’s the insight people gain because of their experience. Reflective thinking turns experience into insight.
• The practice of reflective thinking is hard for many because they have a hard time staying focused; they find the process dull; or they don’t like spending a lot of time thinking about emotionally difficult issues.
– It requires minimal distraction….and a separate place to engage;
• While documenting the significant thoughts that come to you, make sure you document a couple of action points. It keeps the thoughts flowing;
• The value you receive from reflecting will depend on the kinds of questions you ask yourself. The better the questions, the more gold you will mine from your thinking
• Ultimately, reflective thinking has three main values: it gives me perspective within context; it allows me to continually connect with my journey; and it provides counsel and direction concerning my future
• ….When people blindly follow a trend, they’re not doing their own thinking (POPULAR THINKING)..
• Instead of trying to be great, be part of something greater than yourself.
• Here is how relationships most often play out:
– I win, you lose — I win only once.
– You win, I lose — You win only once.
– We both win — We win many times.
– We both lose — Good-bye, partnership!
The best relationships are win-win.
• Focus on your area of strengths. Start first by finding what that is. Use tools like: DISC. Myers Brigg model. Interview friends. Just discover yourself.
• If you want to achieve great things in life, you need to have great dreams and focused thinking can help you achieve this…
• Burden of leadership: be around & accessible enough and withdrawal times to think. It is that withdrawal time that helps you think enough to generate enough momentum to add to the cause and to the people.
• Opportunities often abound in a person’s lifetime. True. But there are not many exceptional ones. Take them as they come.
• Being versatile & having a well-rounded knowledge Base is actually overrated. “99% of the things happening in life, you actually don’t need to know them. Just focus on that one percent that brings the highest ROI. Makes the most impact”.
That is not to say:
…that you shouldn’t go out of your box. By all means, explore other cultures, people and traditions. See how they think and live. If you want to break out of your own box, get into somebody else’s. Read broadly!
• Most limitations we face are not imposed on us by others; we place them on ourselves. Lack of creativity often falls into that category
• Realistic thinking is not anti-faith….and this is important for young people. Mostly people of Faith. Balance is key. As someone said, have faith for the best but make plans for the worst. It is not pessimism, neither is it negativity.
• Key question to self:
Am I building a solid mental foundation on facts so that I can think with certainty?
• Strategic thinking is about planning with a helicopter view. You plan your life and live the plan. Some do it at the beginning of everyday while some others at the station of the week most efficient do it at the beginning of every month/year. Some people even have 5/10/20 years plan.which helps them achieve far more.
See Maxwell’s appraoch:
“At the beginning of every month, I spend half a day working on my calendar for the next forty days. Forty days works for me rather than just thirty. That way, I get a jump on the next month and don’t get surprised….”. This helps you plan what to do and what not to do.
• Strategy isn’t a one-size-fits-all proposition. Solutions must be customized for particular situations.
• Strategic thinking reduces the margin of error by aligning plans to objectives…”Employees want to follow the business leader with a good business plan. Volunteers want to join the pastor with a good ministry plan. Children want to be with the adult who has the well-thought-out vacation plan. If you practice strategic thinking, others will listen to you and they will want to follow you. If you possess a position of leadership in an organization, strategic thinking is essential”.
• The problem with not thinking strategically is that it does not only fail to build the business… it causes you to lose the respect of observers.
• In planning strategically, care must be taken to guard against the following:
“Wrong Person: Problems instead of Potential;
Wrong Place: Frustration instead of Fulfilment;
Wrong Plan: Grief instead of Growth
Everything comes together, however, when you put together all three elements: the right person, the right place, and the right plans”.
• Strategic thinking informs strategic plans that gives direction today and unleashes potential tomorrow.
• Thinking innovately can be applied in everyday in ways as little as…..drive to work a different way from normal. Order an unfamiliar dish at your favorite restaurant. Ask a different colleague to help you with a familiar project. Take yourself off the path of autopilot;
• Shared thinking (what we call synergy): It’s like harnessing two horses to pull a wagon. They are stronger pulling together than either is individually. But did you know that when they pull together, they can move more weight than the sum of what they can move individually?
• A key reminder…remind yourself that unpopular thinking, even when resulting in success, is largely underrated, unrecognized, and misunderstood. Unpopular thinking contains the seeds of vision and opportunity. Unpopular thinking is required for all progress
• Good leadership helps to put together the right people at the right time for the right purpose so that everybody wins
• Whether for pleasure or business, ‘make sure you have an agenda behind every meeting’.
• There is no life as empty as the self-centered life. There is no life as centered as the self-empty life
• Practicing reflective thinking could be as simple as retiring every day with structured thoughts along the line of: “Event,” “Significance,” and “Action Point”.
• Whatever you do, think of bottom-line as something far beyond profits but also other outcomes, which can be chiefly about changing and adding values to life;
Ps: Quotes used in this book:
If you agree, quotes are the best thing that have happened to mankind. It encapsulates so much wisdom in a few words and allows you to expand the wisdom as far as you want. You can almost write a book from one quote. Get in here….
• Charlie Brower: “A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn; it can be stabbed to death by a quip and worried to death by a frown on the right man’s brow”.
• Tom Peters: “Weed out the dulards—nurture the nuts
• Sam Weston, creator of the popular action figure GI Joe, said, “Truly groundbreaking ideas are rare, but you don’t necessarily need one to make a career out of creativity. My definition of creativity is the logical combination of two or more existing elements that result in a new concept. The best way to make a living with your imagination is to develop innovative applications, not imagine completely new concepts”.
• Creative people say, “Give me a good idea and I’l give you a better idea!”
• Inventor Charles Kettering said, “All human development, no matter what form it takes, must be outside the rules; otherwise, we would never have anything new”
• James Allen suggested that “dreamers are the saviors of the world”. The difference between goal and dream is the power & passion behind it.”
• Actress Katharine Hepburn remarked, “If you obey all the rules… you will miss all the fun”.
• British novelist John Galsworthy wrote, “Idealism increases in direct proportion to one’s distance from the problem.” those who are close to the problem are a bit more realistic. That’s why empathy from third parties is a hard deal. Because they are not in it, they are no able to connect well enough”.
• Ted Koppel observed, “Our society finds truth too strong a medicine to digest undiluted. In its purest form, truth is not a polite tap on the shoulder. It is a howling reproach.” In other words, the truth will set you free—but first it will make you angry! If you want to become a realistic thinker, however, you need to get comfortable dealing with the truth and face up to it”….
…..strip yourself of preconceived notions. It doesn’t matter how sound your thinking is if it’s based on faulty data or assumptions. You can’t think well in the absence of facts (or in the presence of poor information)
• Charles Hole, who advised, “Deliberate with caution, but act with decision; and yield with graciousness or oppose with firmness”.
• Most people spend more time planning their summer vacation than planning their lives.” —SOURCE unknown.
• Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes said, “The man who is prepared has his battle half fought.”…..Anything becomes simpler when it has a plan.
• General George S. Patton observed, “Successful generals make plans to fit circumstances, but do not try to create circumstances to fit plans”. Strategic thinkers are adaptive & agile in their approach.
• Eugene G. Grace says, “Thousands of engineers can design bridges, calculate strains and stresses, and draw up specifications for machines, but the great engineer is the man who can tell whether the bridge or the machine should be built at all, where it should be built, and when”.
• William Feather, author of The Business of Life, said, “Before it can be solved, a problem must be clearly defined.” Too many people rush to solutions, and as a result they end up solving the wrong problem. To avoid that, ask questions to expose the real issues.
(Again, ask What else could be the real issue? You should also remove any personal agenda. More than almost anything else, that can cloud your judgment).
• Olan Hendrix remarked, “Strategic thinking is like showering, you have to keep doing it.” If you expect to solve any major problem once, you’re in for disappointment”.
• Thane Yost said is really true: “The will to win is worthless if you do not have the will to prepare”.
• Nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done.” —SAM Ewing
• Donald M. Nelson, former president of the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers, criticized popular thinking when he asserted, “We must discard the idea that past routine, past ways of doing things, are probably the best ways. On the contrary, we must assume that there is probably a better way to do almost everything. We must stop assuming that a thing which has never been done before probably cannot be done at al
• Talking about the blessing of shared thinking….
Albert Einstein once remarked, “Many times a day I realize how much my own outer and inner life is built upon the labors of my fellow men, both living and dead, and how earnestly I must exert myself in order to give in return as much as I have received. (You’ve had experiences I haven’t, and I’ve had experiences you haven’t. Put us together and we bring a broader range of personal history—and therefore maturity—to the table. If you don’t have the experience you need, hook up with someone who does).
• Clarence Francis sums up the benefits in the following observation: “I sincerely believe that the word relationships is the key to the prospect of a decent world. It seems abundantly clear that every problem you will have—in your family, in your work, in our nation, or in this world—is essentially a matter of relationships, of interdependence
• Jeffrey J. Fox, author of How to Become CEO, says, “Always be on the lookout for ideas. Be completely indiscriminate as to the source. Get ideas from customers, children, competitors, other industries, or cab drivers. It doesn’t matter who thought of an idea.” (When you put people together to brainstorm…keep a healthy & collaborative atmosphere. Whatever idea wins, praise the idea more than the owner).
• We cannot hold a torch to light another’s path without brightening our own.” —BEN SWEETLAND
• Charles H. Burr believed, “Getters generally don’t get happiness; givers get it.”
• Alan Loy McGinnis remarked, “There is no more noble occupation in the world than to assist another human being—to help someone succeed.”
• Bessie Anderson Stanley wrote the following definition of success in Brown Book magazine: He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children, who has filed his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it, who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had, whose life was an inspiration, whose memory a benediction.
• The best way to create a road to the complex is to build on the fundamentals. In planning, always start with the obvious. The things that can be seen, before the unseen.
• “There is no life as empty as the self-centered life. There is no life as centered as the self-empty life”.
• Professor David J. Schwartz believes, “Big thinkers are specialists in creating positive forward-looking, optimistic pictures in their own minds and in the minds of others.”
• Denis Waitley, author of The Psychology of Winning, says, “The winners in life think constantly in terms of ‘I can, I will and I am.’ Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have done, or what they don’t do.”
• Sports psychologist Bob Rotella recounts, “I tell people: If you don’t want to get into positive thinking, that’s OK. Just eliminate all the negative thoughts from your mind, and whatever’s left will be fine.”
• Rocket pioneer Wernher von Braun said, “I have learned to use the word impossible with the greatest of caution.”
• Napoleon Bonaparte declared, “The word impossible is not in my dictionary.”
• John Andrew Holmes asserted “Never tell a young person that something cannot be done. God may have been waiting centuries for somebody ignorant enough of the impossible to do that thing.”
• Henry Curtis advises, “Make your plans as fantastic as you like, because twenty-five years from now, they will seem mediocre. Make your plans ten times as great as you first planned, and twenty-five years from now you will wonder why you did not make them fifty times as great.”
• George Bernard Shaw’s statement: “Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’”
• “To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.” —JULES HENRI POINCAR ©
• President George Washington observed, “We ought not to look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.”
• Playwright William Shakespeare wrote, “Experience is a jewel, and it had need be so, for it is often purchased at an infinite rate.”
• Mark Twain said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience all the wisdom that is in it—not like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again—and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”
• Greek philosopher Socrates observed, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”
• “I’m not an answering machine, I’m a questioning machine. If we have all the answers, how come we’re in such a mess?” —DOUGLAS CARDINAL
• Economist John Maynard Keynes, asserted, “The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old ones.”
• Kevin Myers “The problem with popular thinking is that it doesn’t require you to think at all.”…. It’s easier to do what other people do and hope that they thought it out.
• Jack Balousek, “Learn, earn, return—these are the three phases of life. The first third should be devoted to education, the second third to building a career and making a living, and the last third to giving back to others—returning something in gratitude. Each state seems to be a preparation for the next one.”
• François de la Rochefoucauld said, “What seems to be generosity is often no more than disguised ambition, which overlooks a small interest in order to secure a great one.”
• American educator Horace Mann said, “Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity.”
• “There ain’t no rules around here. We’re trying to accomplish something.”—THOMAS EDISON, INVENTOR
• George W. Merck, who stated, “We try never to forget that medicine is for the people. It is not for the profits. The profits follow, and if we have remembered that, they have never failed to appear.”
• Goal setting & writing provided you with clear directions. And focus. Keep it short. “If you cannot write your goal at the back of my business card, then it isn’t clear enough”. David belasco.
• “Find the one thing you do best and don’t do anything else”.
• Edward bono: “A conclusion is where thinking stops”. Simple definition.
• “Life consists of what a man is thinking about all day.” — RALPH WALDO EMERSON
(Everything begins with a thought.)
• “The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.” — JOHN LOCKE
(What we think determines who we are. Who we are determines what we do.)
• “You are today where your thoughts have brought you. You will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.” — JAMES ALLEN
(Our thoughts determine our destiny. Our destiny determines our legacy.)
• “Nothing limits achievement like small thinking; nothing expands possibilities like unleashed thinking.” —WILLIAM ARTHUR WARD
(People who go to the top think differently than others.)
• “Whatever things are true… noble… just… pure… lovely… are of good report. If there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; think on these things.” —PAUL THE APOSTLE
(We can change the way we think.)
End: to grow and become and effective strategic thinker, then you must be a continuous strategic thinker. Daily practice is what changes the game.