Book Review: How Successful People Think, by John C. Maxwell


In this book, John C. Maxwell, a New York Times best-selling author, explores and identifies specific skills we need to make our potential for success explode into results. This is a book that does not explain what to think, but it tells you how to think.

The fifteen main takeaways I got out of this book are:

  1. Good thinkers are always in demand. Good thinkers solve problems, they never lack ideas that can build an organization, and they always have hope for a better future. If you can change your thinking, you can change your life.
  2. How to become a better thinker: 1) expose yourself to good input; 2) expose yourself to good thinkers; 3) choose to think good thoughts (set aside time just to think for half a day every two weeks, for one day every month, and for two or three full days every year); 4)act on your thoughts; 5) allow emotions to create another good thought; and 6) repeat the process.
  3. Put yourself in the right place to think: 1) find a place to think your thoughts (I believe I often get good thoughts because I make it a habit to frequently go to my thinking places); 2) find a place to shape your thoughts (rarely do ideas come fully formed and completely worked out; most of the time, they need to be shaped until they have substance); 3) find a place to stretch your thoughts; 4) find a place to land your thoughts (any idea that remains only an idea doesn’t have any great impact. The real power of an idea comes when it goes from abstraction to application); and 5) find a place to fly your thoughts.
  4. Professor, college President, and U.S. senator S. I. Hayakawa wrote ´Learning to write is learning to think. You don’t know anything clearly unless you can state it in writing.´ Good thinking isn’t just one thing. It consists of several specific thinking skills.
  5. Learn continually – big-picture thinkers are never satisfied with what they already know. They are always visiting new places, reading new books, meeting new people, learning new skills. And because of that practice, they often are able to connect the unconnected. They are lifelong learners.
  6. Listen intentionally – an excellent way to broaden your experience is to listen to someone who has expertise in an area where you don’t… When you meet with people, it´s good to have an agenda so you can learn. It´s a great way to partner with people who can do things you cannot. Big-picture thinkers recognize that they don’t know lots of things.
  7. Live completely – you can spend your life any way you want, but you can spend it only once.
  8. Big-picture thinkers are comfortable with ambiguity. They do not try to force every observation or piece of data into pre-formulated mental cubby holes. If you want to cultivate the ability to think big picture, then you must get used to embracing and dealing with complex and diverse ideas.
  9. What are you giving up to? No one can go the highest level and remain generalist. You need to find one thing you do well and do anything else.
  10. Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes said, ´The man who is prepared  has his battle half fought.´Strategic thinking takes complex issues and long term objectives, which can be very difficult to address, and breaks them down into manageable sizes. Anything becomes simpler when it has a plan.
  11. General George S. Patton observed, ´Successful generals make plans to fit circumstances, but do not try to create circumstances to fit plans
  12. The pace of our society does not encourage reflective thinking. Most people would rather act than think. While we must be persons of action, have very high energy and enjoy seeing things accomplished, we should also acknowledge the importance of reflective thinking.
  13. Good thinkers, specially those who are also good leaders, understand the power of shared thinking. They know that when they value the thoughts and ideas of others, they receive the compounding results of shared thinking and accomplish more than they ever could on their own… We live in a truly fast-paced world. Tu function at its current rate of speed, we can not go it alone.
  14. A person who values cooperation desires to complete the ideas of others, not compete with them… Successful organizations practice shared thinking. Nothing adds value like a lot of good thinkers putting their minds together.
  15. Charles H. Burr believed, ´Getters generally don’t get happiness; givers get it.´ Helping people brings great satisfaction. When you spend your day unselfishly serving others, at night you can lay down your head with no regrets and sleep soundly.

As stated by the author, ´we have to think in ways we have never thought before, if we want to go to places we have never been before´.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: