The Magic of Thinking Big

The Magic of Thinking Big: Comprehensive Chapter Wise Summary

The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz is a groundbreaking book that explores the power of our thoughts and beliefs in shaping our success and happiness. Published in 1959, this timeless classic continues to captivate readers with its empowering message and actionable strategies for thinking bigger, achieving goals, and unlocking our full potential.

Schwartz’s book is a guide to harnessing the incredible power of our minds and cultivating a mindset of abundance, possibility, and achievement. In a world that often urges us to settle for mediocrity and conform to limited thinking, “The Magic of Thinking Big” challenges readers to break free from self-imposed limitations and dare to dream big. With his authoritative yet engaging writing style, Schwartz seamlessly blends psychological research, real-life examples, and practical advice, making this book not only intellectually stimulating but also highly accessible and applicable to everyday life.

Through the pages of “The Magic of Thinking Big,” readers are encouraged to believe in their own abilities, embrace a growth mindset, and take positive, consistent action towards their goals. Schwartz shows us that success is not solely dependent on talent or luck, but on our ability to think big, take calculated risks, and persevere even when faced with challenges. Whether you are a student, a professional, or an aspiring leader, this book is a valuable resource for anyone seeking to unleash their hidden potential and create a life of purpose, fulfillment, and success.

About the Author

“The Magic of Thinking Big” by David J. Schwartz is a timeless and influential book that has transformed the lives of millions of readers around the world. Published in 1959, the book presents a powerful philosophy on success, mindset, and achieving one’s goals. With his engaging writing style, Schwartz provides readers with practical strategies and powerful insights to help them think bigger, overcome self-imposed limitations, and create a life of success and fulfillment.

David J. Schwartz, the author of “The Magic of Thinking Big,” was an esteemed professor, motivational speaker, and renowned leadership expert. He held a PhD in psychology and served as a professor at Georgia State University. Throughout his career, Schwartz dedicated himself to helping individuals and organizations unlock their potential and achieve greater success. His expertise in human behavior and motivation shines through in his writing, making “The Magic of Thinking Big” an incredibly insightful and inspiring read.

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Style of Writing

Schwartz’s writing style is authoritative, yet accessible. He presents his ideas in a straightforward and engaging manner, drawing on real-life examples and practical tips to reinforce his concepts. His use of anecdotes and relatable stories allows readers to easily connect with the material and apply it to their own lives. Schwartz also has a talent for distilling complex psychological concepts into simple, actionable steps, making his ideas practical and attainable for readers of all backgrounds.

“The Magic of Thinking Big” stands out not only for its practical wisdom but also for its ability to inspire and motivate readers to dream bigger and reach for their greatest potential. Whether you are seeking personal growth, looking to enhance your leadership skills, or striving for professional success, this book offers a roadmap to help you think big, believe in yourself, and turn your dreams into reality.

The Magic of Thinking Big: Chapter Wise Summary

Chapter 1: Believe You Can Succeed and You Will

In this chapter, David J. Schwartz introduces the concept of thinking big and how it can have a huge impact on our success. He explains that our beliefs about ourselves and our capabilities ultimately shape our actions and outcomes. He highlights the power of positive thinking and emphasizes the importance of believing in our own abilities to achieve greatness. Schwartz shares powerful examples and practical tips to help readers start thinking bigger and believing in their own potential.

Schwartz provides numerous examples of successful individuals who believed in themselves despite facing challenges and setbacks. One such example is that of American inventor Thomas Edison. Despite failing thousands of times in his attempts to invent the electric light bulb, Edison never gave up and maintained a firm belief in his ultimate success. His unwavering belief led to the eventual breakthrough that revolutionized the world.

To further illustrate the importance of belief, Schwartz shares the story of a young salesman who struggled to meet his sales targets. The salesman had a negative self-image and believed he wasn’t capable of achieving success. However, as soon as he changed his mindset and started believing in his abilities, his sales performance drastically improved.

Schwartz also highlights the concept of “excusitis,” the habit of making excuses for our lack of success. He asserts that by adopting a belief in our own abilities, we can overcome excusitis and take proactive steps towards success.

The chapter concludes with a powerful quote: “Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief.” Schwartz emphasizes that developing a strong belief in our own capabilities is the first step towards achieving greatness.

Through real-life examples and insightful anecdotes, Chapter 1 of “The Magic of Thinking Big” establishes the crucial role played by belief in determining our success. It provides readers with the inspiration and tools needed to cultivate a mindset of unwavering self-belief.

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Chapter 2: Cure Yourself of Excusitis, the Failure Disease

The Magic of Thinking Big Summary
The Magic of Thinking Big Summary

Excusitis refers to the habit of making excuses for why we can’t achieve our goals or why we are not as successful as we would like to be. Schwartz explores different types of excusitis and how they can hold us back from reaching our full potential. He provides strategies to cure excusitis, such as taking responsibility for our actions and choices, refusing to make excuses, and focusing on finding solutions instead of dwelling on problems.

1. “Each of us has two natures. One wants us to advance, the other wants us to pull back.” – Schwartz emphasizes that we all have two conflicting forces within us – one that pushes us towards growth and success and another that holds us back. Excusitis often stems from the latter.

2. “Benjamin Franklin said: ‘He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.'” – Schwartz quotes Benjamin Franklin to highlight the negative impact of making excuses. Excusitis can prevent us from taking responsibility for our actions and hinder our progress.

3. Schwartz describes the “if only” excuse, where individuals blame external factors for their lack of success. For example, someone might say, “If only I had more money, I could start my own business.” Schwartz emphasizes that successful people do not let external circumstances dictate their success and find ways to overcome obstacles.

4. The author explores the “no time” excuse, where individuals use lack of time as a reason for not pursuing their goals. Schwartz mentions that truly successful people prioritize their time and make room for activities that contribute to their growth and success.

5. Schwartz introduces the “age” excuse, where individuals believe that they are too old or too young to achieve certain goals. He shares examples of individuals who achieved great success at different ages, emphasizing that age should not be a limitation.

6. The author discusses the “health” excuse, where individuals blame their physical health for their lack of success. Schwartz emphasizes that, while good health is important, many successful individuals have overcome health challenges to achieve their goals.

7. Schwartz provides strategies to cure excusitis, such as taking responsibility for our actions, refusing to make excuses, and focusing on finding solutions rather than dwelling on problems. He emphasizes the importance of developing a “can-do” attitude and surrounding oneself with positive influences.

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Chapter 3: Build Confidence and Destroy Fear

Fear and lack of confidence can prevent us from taking risks and pursuing our goals. In this chapter, Schwartz explains how confidence can be built and fear can be overcome through practice, preparation, and positive self-talk. He provides practical techniques to boost self-confidence, such as setting small goals and celebrating small wins, visualizing success, and surrounding ourselves with positive and supportive people.

Schwartz begins the chapter by highlighting the impact that fear can have on our lives, stating, “Fear, the big enemy of success, contains a virus which destroys confidence, enthusiasm, and the willingness to try.” He emphasizes that fear is mostly rooted in our own imagination and goes on to provide strategies for conquering it.

One powerful technique Schwartz suggests is the power of positive self-talk. He writes, “Start praising yourself, especially for little accomplishments. As your self-praise grows, so will your confidence.” He encourages readers to focus on their strengths and achievements, no matter how small, and to acknowledge and celebrate their progress.

To illustrate the importance of confidence, Schwartz shares the story of a salesman who struggled with low self-esteem. The salesman had convinced himself that his lack of success was due to external factors. However, after attending a confidence-building seminar, he started believing in his abilities and saw a significant increase in his sales performance. This example demonstrates how confidence can have a direct impact on our actions and outcomes.

Another technique Schwartz discusses is visualization. He explains how visualizing success can help overcome fear and build confidence. He quotes Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a renowned plastic surgeon, who said, “Within you right now is the power to do things you never dreamed possible. This power becomes available to you just as soon as you can change your beliefs.”

Schwartz also suggests practical actions to gradually step out of our comfort zones and overcome fear. He advises readers to take small, manageable risks and expand their comfort zones incrementally. By taking these small steps, fear gradually diminishes, and confidence grows.

To further emphasize the importance of confidence, Schwartz shares the example of a young woman who lacked confidence in her public speaking abilities. After receiving coaching and practicing, she not only became a sought-after public speaker but also landed lucrative job opportunities. This example highlights how building confidence can open doors and lead to greater success and opportunities.

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Chapter 4: How to Think Big

In this chapter of The Magic of Thinking Big, Schwartz encourages readers to develop the habit of thinking big and setting ambitious goals. He emphasizes the importance of having a clear vision and purpose, as well as taking consistent action towards achieving those goals. Schwartz shares strategies to help readers think bigger, such as expanding their thinking by seeking out new information and experiences, adopting a growth mindset, and challenging their limiting beliefs.

1. “Action cures fear, and hesitation and procrastination are symptoms of fear.” Schwartz highlights the idea that fear can often hold us back from thinking big and going after our goals. By taking action and confronting our fears, we can break through the barriers that prevent us from thinking and achieving big.

2. “Until we can manage time, we can manage nothing else.” Schwartz explains that effective time management is essential for thinking big and accomplishing our goals. He urges readers to prioritize their time and focus on tasks that align with their big thinking.

3. Example: Schwartz shares the story of Walt Disney, who had a clear vision and big thinking when it came to creating Disneyland. Despite facing numerous challenges and setbacks, Disney persevered and turned his dream into a reality. This example illustrates the power of thinking big and not letting obstacles deter us from pursuing our goals.

4. “Look for the seed of advantage in every problem.” Schwartz encourages readers to see problems as opportunities for growth and improvement. By reframing challenges and seeking solutions, we can develop a mindset of big thinking that allows us to overcome obstacles and achieve success.

5. Example: Schwartz mentions the story of Thomas Edison, who had a big thinking mindset when it came to inventing the light bulb. Despite facing countless failures and setbacks, Edison saw each one as a learning experience and an opportunity to refine his design. His persistence and big thinking eventually led to the creation of a revolutionary invention that changed the world.

6. “Belief, strong belief, triggers the mind to figure out ways and means how to.” Schwartz emphasizes the importance of belief in thinking big and achieving success. When we have unwavering belief in our abilities and the possibility of achieving our goals, our minds become open to finding creative solutions and taking the necessary actions to make our dreams a reality.

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Chapter 5: How to Think and Dream Creatively

Creative thinking is essential for problem-solving and finding innovative solutions. In this chapter of The Magic of Thinking Big Schwartz explores different techniques to stimulate creative thinking, such as changing perspectives, brainstorming, and using visualization. He also encourages readers to embrace failure as a learning opportunity and to persist in their creative endeavors.

Schwartz starts by stating, “Creativity is a secret weapon of success. Thinking creatively enables you to approach problems from new angles, come up with innovative solutions, and stand out from the crowd“. He highlights that thinking creatively requires breaking free from traditional and conditioned thinking patterns.

The author introduces the concept of “changing perspectives” and suggests that by looking at a problem or situation from a different angle, new solutions can be discovered. Schwartz writes, “Look upon your problem from the viewpoint of an abstract painter, a concert pianist, or even a great teacher”. This approach encourages readers to think outside the box and draw inspiration from various fields and disciplines.

Schwartz also explores the power of brainstorming, stating that it “unleashes the unlimited thinking potential within you”. He provides a step-by-step guide for effective brainstorming and encourages readers to generate as many ideas as possible without judgment or criticism. By doing so, creative solutions can emerge that may have otherwise been overlooked.

To illustrate the significance of creative thinking, Schwartz shares the story of Thomas Edison and his invention of the electric light bulb. Edison’s persistence and willingness to think creatively led to numerous failed attempts before finally succeeding. Schwartz writes, “Edison didn’t fail his way to success in an ordinary way, but he had the unusual ability to think creatively. He was a master of surprising approaches”.

The book also includes examples of individuals who have applied creative thinking to achieve success in their respective fields. For instance, Schwartz mentions Walt Disney and his ability to imagine and create the magical world of Disneyland. He highlights Disney’s innovative thinking by stating, “Disney knew that imagination is the secret to innovation, and he used his creative mind to design revolutionary theme parks that continue to inspire millions of people today”.

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Chapter 6: You Are What You Think You Are

Our self-image, or how we see ourselves, greatly influences our actions and outcomes. Schwartz explains how our self-image can either limit us or propel us towards success. He provides strategies for developing a positive self-image, such as focusing on our strengths, setting high standards for ourselves, and surrounding ourselves with positive influences.

Schwartz starts by stating, “You are what you think you are. To control your life, control your self-image. You cannot consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the image you have of yourself.” This sets the foundation for understanding the importance of our self-image in determining our achievements.

The author then introduces the concept of “self-fulfilling prophecy.” He explains that if we have a negative self-image and believe we are incapable of success, we unconsciously sabotage our own efforts and live up to our low expectations. On the other hand, if we develop a positive self-image and believe in our abilities, we are more likely to take action and achieve great things.

To illustrate his points, Schwartz shares several relevant examples throughout the chapter. One powerful example is about a salesperson named Joe. Joe used to perceive himself as an average salesperson, constantly struggling to make sales. When he changed his self-image and started seeing himself as a top salesperson, his performance drastically improved. Not only did he make more sales, but he also gained the confidence and motivation to continue growing professionally.

Schwartz also discusses the impact of our self-image on our physical appearance. He explains that people who feel good about themselves tend to appear more attractive and confident, while those with a negative self-image often exhibit signs of insecurity and doubt.

Moreover, Schwartz emphasizes the importance of setting high standards for ourselves and raising our self-expectations. He states, “Believe you are better than you think you are, and you will become better.” By challenging our own perceptions and striving for excellence, we can exceed our own expectations and make significant progress in our personal and professional lives.

To develop a positive self-image, Schwartz suggests adopting a “success pattern.” He encourages readers to surround themselves with positive influences, such as successful individuals or inspiring books and stories, to reshape their beliefs and attitudes about themselves. He also advises readers to regularly engage in affirmations and positive self-talk, consciously reinforcing empowering thoughts and dismissing negative ones.

For More comprehensive summaries like The Magic of Thinking Big, refer to our blog on 200 influential business book summaries

Chapter 7: Manage Your Environment: Go First Class

The Magic of Thinking Big Summary
The Magic of Thinking Big Summary

Our environment plays a significant role in shaping our mindset and behaviors. Schwartz emphasizes the importance of surrounding ourselves with positive people and creating an environment that supports our goals. He advises readers to upgrade their physical environment, such as their workspace, and to associate with individuals who inspire and motivate them.

Schwartz starts the chapter with a quote from Thomas Watson, the former chairman of IBM, who said, “Nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.” This quote sets the tone for the chapter and reinforces the idea that we have control over our environment and can create conducive conditions for success.

One example Schwartz provides to illustrate the importance of managing our environment is the story of William Wrigley Jr., the founder of Wrigley chewing gum. Wrigley started out selling baking powder and offered free packs of gum as a bonus to his customers. As demand for the gum increased, Wrigley realized there was a greater opportunity in the gum business and shifted his focus. Schwartz uses this story to highlight how Wrigley’s environment influenced his decision-making and enabled him to seize a new and lucrative opportunity.

Another example Schwartz mentions is the impact of associations on our thinking. He quotes Dr. Daniel Schacter, a professor of psychology, who stated, “Social connections are as important to your well-being as your cholesterol level.” Schwartz explains that the people we associate with can either lift us up and inspire us to think bigger, or drag us down and undermine our confidence. He advises readers to surround themselves with positive, ambitious individuals who will support and encourage their growth.

Schwartz also discusses the significance of upgrading our physical environment. He suggests making our workspace more conducive to productivity and inspiration. He quotes William James, a renowned psychologist, who said, “The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.” Schwartz explains that by upgrading our physical environment, such as tidying up our workspace, adding motivational quotes or pictures, and creating a comfortable and organized setting, we can enhance our productivity and overall mindset.

Furthermore, Schwartz emphasizes the importance of going “first class” in all aspects of our lives. He advises readers to invest in themselves by wearing neat and professional attire, driving a clean and well-maintained car, and investing in high-quality tools and resources. He quotes Charles W. Eliot, the former Harvard University president, who said, “Habitually do things that other people don’t do, or don’t like to do. And even though they may not eagerly follow your example, they will be forced to respect it.” By adopting a “first class” mentality, we not only improve how others perceive us but also boost our own self-esteem and confidence.

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Chapter 8: Make Your Attitudes Your Allies

Our attitudes greatly impact our mindset, actions, and interactions with others. Schwartz explores different attitudes that can help us succeed, such as enthusiasm, curiosity, and resilience. He provides strategies to cultivate positive attitudes, such as practicing gratitude, seeking out new opportunities for growth, and reframing challenges as opportunities.

1. “Your attitudes are your allies. They can propel you to outstanding success or pull you down to miserable failure.” 

Schwartz emphasizes that our attitudes play a significant role in determining our outcomes. By cultivating positive attitudes, such as enthusiasm, curiosity, and resilience, we can propel ourselves towards success and achieve remarkable results.

2. “When you believe something is impossible, your mind goes to work for you to prove why. But when you believe, really believe, something can be done, your mind goes to work for you and helps you find ways to do it.”

Schwartz highlights the power of belief and its influence on our mindset. When we have a positive attitude and truly believe in our capabilities, our mind becomes receptive to finding solutions and overcoming obstacles. This quote demonstrates the importance of thinking positively and harnessing the power of our beliefs.

3. The story of Polar Ice Cream provides a relevant example. When Polar Ice Cream, a small family-owned business, faced competition from a large national company, they believed in their product and pushed forward with a positive attitude. They focused on their unique selling points, connected with their customers on a personal level, and ultimately thrived despite the intense competition.

Schwartz uses the story of Polar Ice Cream to exemplify how a positive attitude can make a significant difference in business success. The small company’s optimistic and determined approach allowed them to differentiate themselves and create a loyal customer base, showcasing the impact of attitude on business outcomes.

4. “Success-oriented people have a sense of urgency.”

Schwartz highlights the importance of maintaining a sense of urgency in pursuing our goals. Having a positive attitude includes being proactive and taking immediate action instead of procrastinating. This sense of urgency propels success-oriented individuals to seize opportunities and move forward, ensuring progress and growth.

5. The story of Thomas Edison and his positive attitude toward failure is discussed. Despite facing thousands of failures while inventing the electric light bulb, Edison maintained a positive attitude and saw each failure as a learning opportunity. His persistence and positive mindset ultimately led to his groundbreaking success.

Schwartz uses the example of Thomas Edison to emphasize the power of a positive attitude in the face of failure. Edison’s unwavering optimism and belief in his abilities enabled him to view failure as a stepping stone to success, teaching us the importance of maintaining a positive mindset even in the face of challenges.

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Chapter 9: Think Right Toward People

Building positive relationships and effectively communicating with others are essential skills for success. Schwartz discusses the importance of treating others with respect, kindness, and empathy. He provides practical tips for improving interpersonal skills, such as active listening, maintaining a positive attitude, and building a network of supportive relationships.

Schwartz begins the chapter with a powerful quote: “The thinking that guides your intelligence is much more important than how much intelligence you have.” He emphasizes that our attitude towards others, and how we think about them, is crucial in building and maintaining positive relationships.

One of the key concepts discussed in this chapter is the idea of treating others with respect and kindness. Schwartz explains that by thinking right toward people, we can create an atmosphere of trust and cooperation. He provides the example of a salesperson who consistently goes the extra mile to understand and fulfill the needs of his clients, building strong relationships and loyalty in the process.

Schwartz also touches on the importance of empathy and understanding in our interactions with others. He shares the story of a manager who took the time to listen and understand the personal and professional challenges faced by his team members. By showing empathy and providing support, the manager was able to improve morale and productivity within the team.

The author discusses the significance of maintaining a positive attitude when dealing with people. He explains that our attitudes can be contagious and have a direct impact on the outcome of our interactions. Schwartz mentions a study that found that when patients believed their doctors had a positive attitude towards their treatment, they had better health outcomes. This demonstrates the power of positive thinking and its influence on the people around us.

In order to think right toward people, Schwartz recommends practicing active listening. He explains that by truly listening to others, we can understand their needs and perspectives, and respond in a more effective and empathetic manner. He provides practical tips, such as maintaining eye contact, asking open-ended questions, and paraphrasing, to improve active listening skills.

Schwartz also encourages readers to build a network of positive relationships and surround themselves with supportive people. He explains that by associating with individuals who inspire and motivate us, we can elevate our own thinking and increase our chances of success. He gives the example of a young man who achieved great success in business by surrounding himself with successful and ambitious mentors.

For More comprehensive summaries like The Magic of Thinking Big, refer to our blog on 200 influential business book summaries

Chapter 10: Get the Action Habit

Taking action is crucial for achieving our goals and turning our dreams into reality. Schwartz shares strategies for developing the action habit, such as setting specific goals, breaking them down into actionable steps, and creating a sense of urgency. He also emphasizes the importance of persistence and taking consistent action despite setbacks and obstacles.

Schwartz begins by highlighting the power of action: “Action cures fear, indecision, and lack of confidence. Whenever you’re in doubt or afraid, the cure is action. … When you take action, you instantly start to feel better“. He highlights that action is the antidote to fear and doubt, and taking that first step is often the hardest but most crucial part.

To develop the action habit, Schwartz suggests setting specific goals and breaking them down into actionable steps. He explains, “Action must be planned, and the plan must be based on goals that lead to action“. By setting clear objectives and creating a roadmap of smaller tasks, we can make progress towards our goals.

Schwartz also emphasizes the importance of creating a sense of urgency. He advises, “Build a fire under yourself. Get yourself excited, and make your own pep talk. Remember that opportunity waits for no one”. By cultivating a sense of urgency, we are more likely to take immediate action rather than postponing or procrastinating.

Persistence is another key aspect of the action habit. Schwartz explains, “Persistence is self-discipline in action. Persistence is the will to win“. He emphasizes the need to persevere in the face of challenges and setbacks, as success often requires continuous effort and determination.

Throughout the chapter, Schwartz provides relevant examples and anecdotes to illustrate the power of taking action. For instance, he shares the story of a young man who wanted to start a successful business but was constantly hesitating and making excuses. It was only when he finally took action and seized opportunities that his business began to thrive.

Schwartz also highlights the importance of learning from failures and mistakes. He shares the story of Abraham Lincoln, who experienced numerous setbacks before becoming one of the most influential presidents in history. Lincoln’s ability to persevere and learn from his failures is a testament to the power of the action habit.

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