This book centers around the idea that success is determined by the size of one’s thinking. In other words, to be achieve anything worthwhile, you must think big.
Schwartz explains what thinking big looks like in many contexts and areas. People often confuse “thinking big” with “wishful thinking.” They are completely different. Wishful thinking is the idea that desire alone causes results, which isn’t true. Thinking big, however, is desire combined with action, which does create results.
The central thesis of this book is that strong belief helps create effective systems. You cannot genuinely believe something will happen unless you spend the time to back it up.
Conversely, the “okay I’ll give it a try but I don’t think it will work” attitude creates failure. Your mind will justify whatever you tell yourself. If you tell yourself the story that you’re having a bad day, your mind will search for reasons to make that true.
The goal is to make thinking big a habit. This can only happen if you actively recognize pessimistic thinking, and force yourself to adjust. After a while, this process will become second nature.
“The fellow who has gone nowhere and has no plans for getting anywhere always has a bookful of reasons to explain why.”
It’s easy to justify why we aren’t doing something. What separates the successful from the mediocre is whether you act regardless of those existing excuses.
Some common excuses include:
Instead of doing what you can, do what needs to be done. Catch yourself when you’re making these excuses, and eliminate them from your thinking.
“The best cure for nervousness is immediate action.”
No one is confident by default. People only become fearless after consistent, specific action. In order to cure fear, you must take deliberate steps to do so. Action destroys fear, while indecision and postponement fertilizes it.
Fear never resolves itself. If you’re afraid of swimming, the best way to extinguish that fear is to dive into the water over and over again until you realize that it’s harmless.
This applies to all situations. As soon as you find yourself worrying about a situation, try to immediately dive headfirst into it. You’ll soon realize that most fear is just an internal narrative rather than objective reality.
Average people despise progress. The common person thinks “it’s been this way for a hundred years. Therefore it must be good, so why change it?”
When the airplane was invented, it seemed incredibly rash. People would often say “Man was meant to stay on the ground, not enter the domain of birds.” Every new idea seems unnecessary in the moment, but brilliant in hindsight.
There is no one optimal way to do anything. It’s important to always keep on proposing new, inventive methods to solve problems. Avoid tradition if it stops progress.
Your environment dictates the direction of your thinking. If you spend your time with people who always tell you to “think more realistically” and “adopt more logical goals,” you’ll never improve your station.
When you make a big claim, you’ll get one of two reactions:
Spend time with people who give you the latter. They know it’s not impossible because they’ve already done it.
The opinions of the unsuccessful and mediocre can be poison. They cause you to abandon your goals and never improve. Surround yourself with those who take you seriously and help you grow.
When people try to bring you down, think big. There will always be those who want to see you fail. Avoid them; by engaging with them you reduce yourself to their level. Expect to be sniped at. It’s proof you’re growing.
Your thinking will directly influence your results. If you don’t believe you can do it, you can’t.
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