The Magic of Thinking BIG

I have asked myself many times; Robbie why do you procrastinate? You know what to do, so why don’t you do it? When it comes to material riches, I sometimes even feel that I am scared of being materially successful. A sense of why me and not the other person. Scared of the unknown perhaps?

Perhaps even a sense of guilt; having aspirations of being materially successful. I always remember the text in 1 John 2:15-17, which states; Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him; because everything in the world - the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one's means of life - does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world. Furthermore, the world is passing away and so is its desire, but he that does the will of God remains forever. Therefore, me being religious, should material success even be pursued.

I also know it's the love of money and not money itself that is the route of all evil. Money can be put to good use after all. How can I provide for my family in a comfortable way without it. The text in 1 Timothy 5:8 states; But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. Therefore,It is my duty as a father to become materially successful. We each having our own definition of what materially successful means.

A lot of conflict of thought and emotions going on in my mind all at once. Part of why I feel this way is because I'm a product of my environment; my past and present – but something bigger must be holding me back as well. The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz; first published in 1959, went a long way in answering my many questions.

Schwartz starts by asking you to think of the people who earn five times as much as you. Are they five times smarter? Do they work five times harder? If the answer is no, then the question "What do they have that I haven't?"

Schwartz suggests that the main thing separating them from me is that they think five times bigger. We are all, more than we realise, the product of the thinking which surrounds us, and most of this thinking is little, not big.

The three most powerful points I took from the book were;

  1. Don't wait until conditions are perfect before starting something. They never will be. Act now.

  2. To see what can be, not just what is. Visualization adds value to everything and thinking big means training oneself to see not just what is, but what can be

  3. The major thing holding me back is the relative smallness of my thoughts

Plenty of room at the top.

In the course of researching his book Schwartz spoke to many people who had reached the top in their field. Instead of getting detailed responses, Schwartz was told that the key factor in personal success was simply the desire for it. Rather than being 'too many Chiefs and not enough Indians', the opposite is true.

Some people choose to lead, others to follow. Success is not primarily a matter of circumstances or native talent or even intelligence - it is a choice. In the many little comments that have been made to you throughout your life, you may have unconsciously written a log of the things you can or can't have, the person you can or cannot be. Money don’t grow on trees, or that you have to have money to make money, or that so and so, is so lucky to have all that success. These comments are tattooed on the subconscious of many.

The quiet route to success.

The Magic of Thinking Big is basically about 'getting ahead', with a fair amount of attention to exponentially increasing your income, but teaches topics that can be applied in all walks of life; your relationship with your spouse, your attitude towards your health and fitness etc. It tells us how to think, look and feel 'important'.

The paradox of Schwartz's message is that to get the material results, we must know the immaterial, that is, we must spend time alone with our thoughts. Decisions arrived at in managed solitude, he says, have a habit of being 100 per cent right. Action drives out thought, whereas leaders set aside time for solitude to tap their supreme thinking power.

Belief is everything.

Schwartz goes on to say that there is nothing mystical about the power of belief, but we must draw a distinction between merely wishing and actually believing. Doubt attracts 'reasons' for not succeeding, whereas belief finds the means to do the job. Schwartz was in conversation with an aspiring fiction writer. When the name of a successful author came up, the aspiring writer quickly said, 'But I could never equal him; I'm not in his league.' Knowing the writer in question, Schwartz pointed out that he was neither super-intelligent nor super-perceptive, merely super-confident. The writer had at some point decided to believe that he was among the best, and so he acted and performed accordingly. Most of us believe that the result of an event is the best indicator of how successful we are, yet events between results are much more likely to reflect a person's level of confidence than the actual result itself. In Schwartz's words: `Belief is the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life.'

He gives another example - In the 1890's, a person named Gottlieb Daimler drew a three-pointed star on a postcard to his family and wrote next to it, 'One day this star will shine down on my work.' He co-founded Mercedes-Benz. Great accomplishments such as these demonstrate Schwartz's claim that a person is best measured by the size of their dreams.

Excusitis, the failure disease.

Schwartz mentions that Roosevelt did not think that because he was a cripple he could not be President, Truman did not hold the fact of his limited education against himself, and Kennedy chose not to believe that his youth was a bar to power. By noting our upbringing, age, luck, intelligence, spouse, health etc. as 'the thing which is holding us back', we are falling prey to the disease of failure. Never depend on luck to get what you want. The only vaccination against 'Excusitis', as Schwartz calls it - 'commonly known as failure's disease' - is conscious self-belief. Schwartz knows that as soon as we hit a rough spot our thinking is likely to shrink back to its normal size, yet this is exactly when it is crucial not to. Schwartz goes on to say that you may have an old car, dingy apartment, debts, job stress and a crying baby, but they are not really a reflection of you as long as you are working on the vision of what you will be two years from now. Concentrate on your assets and how you are deploying them to change the situation, and avoid being concerned by what other people think of your goals. Every big success is created one step at a time, therefore it is best to measure yourself against the goals you have set, rather than comparing yourself to others.

It is also said that a large vocabulary is a big determinant of success. But what counts is the effect that our words have on how we think about ourselves. Instead of trying to use ‘intelligent’ words, Schwartz says, use positive language, and see how it transforms your mood and the perceptions of others.

Improve the quality of your environment.

Schwartz phrases it, 'Go first class'. This does not mean always getting the most expensive ticket. It does mean getting your advice from successful (First Class) people, and not giving the jealous people the satisfaction of seeing you stumble. Spend time with those who think on a large scale and are generous in their friendship. After a while, the base level of what you think possible will rise. People make assessments of us whether we like it or not, and the value the world gives us matches the one we give ourselves.


What I Took From It.

Schwartz delivers to us the right quote by Benjamin Disraeli: 'Life is too short to be little.' We must enlarge our imagination of ourselves and act upon it. 'Thinking big' does work in relation to career goals, financial security and great relationships - but it is more significant than that. We are challenged to see ourselves in a brighter light, to have a larger conception of life.

This is a choice that is no more difficult than the choice to keep doing what we're doing, labouring in darkness.​ Thinking larger thoughts is a kind of magic, since the effort put in is small compared with the long-term results. We are what we constantly think off and we are the average of the 5 people closest to you. Therefore go ‘first class’ and think BIG.

My Rating

As a self-help books go, I thought this was one of the best ones I have come across in a long time. It is absolutely worth reading, not once or twice, but as a handy guide. I've recommended this book to family and close friends.