Magic Of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This one has some good ideas in it, but I guess I expected more from a classic. First published in 1959, the book appears on many "must read" lists, and is sometimes quoted by modern authors. I enjoyed it, but maybe not as much as I expected to.
There is something very appealing about the simple idea that we can all direct the course of our lives by choosing thoughts that lead us toward achievement and happiness. Napoleon Hill wrote about it in the 1930s (see last week's blog) and Wayne Dyer has churned out a couple dozen books around this theme. It is compelling. In 2007, Rhonda Byrne's book The Secret did the literary equivalent of going viral. At least it did in my social circle.
One of the most helpful of Schwartz's chapters is called "Think Right Toward People" in which he links success with likeability... and links likeability with authenticity. If there is someone you don't like, or who you disagree with, they know it. So when we smile and fake a pleasant demeanor, we can be immediately spotted as insincere, which damages our trustworthiness. Since we really cannot fool people, the solution has to be in adjusting our attitude: we have to go in to every encounter with an intention to genuinely like the other person. Easier said than done, of course, but clearly worth the effort.
All in all, I am glad I read this one, and glad I have good notes to refer back to. The two-page summary I developed is available for free download here. I like to think that I have substantially improved the quality of my own life by adopting many of Schwartz's principles, though there is still much internal work to be done. I'd recommend The Magic of Thinking Big to anyone looking for a way out of a rut of their own making.
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