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If you have read other self-help or motivational books, you might have come across the mention of this timeless classic The Magic of Thinking Big by David J Schwartz.

David Schwartz popularized positive thinking & the concept of self-belief long before the likes of Tony Robbins & others were even born. Dr.Schwartz is one of the original proponents of the self-help movement.

The book talks about the importance of having the right attitude, and how anyone (regardless of their upbringing or economic status) can achieve great heights.

The author also provides easy-to-comprehend and specific action steps that one can take to make lasting changes in their lives.

In this post, I will summarize the key points I have learned from reading the book. Every year I re-read a handful of books (no matter how many times I have already read them) and this book has been added to the list.

The Importance of Belief

“Those who believe they can move mountains, do. Those who believe they can’t, cannot. Belief triggers the power to do.”

The thing that prevents lots of people from realizing their dreams is their thinking. The self-doubts we face and believe eventually become the bane of our existence. Some of these doubts are self-imposed, while others we acquire culturally or because of upbringing.

Making a mental switch to believing that you can achieve what you set out to achieve, helps pave the way. Belief is the first step. Often the path and the “how” unwinds in-front of us based on the level of belief we have.

“Belief is the thermostat that regulates what we accomplish in life. “

Few things you can take to develop the power of Belief:

  • Think Success and not a failure.
  • Remind Yourself Regularly that you are better than you think you are.
  • Believe Big. The size of your success is determined by the size of your belief.

Excusitis – the Failure Disease

career setback

“Study the lives of successful people and you’ll discover this: all the excuses made by the mediocre fellow could be but aren’t made by the successful person”.

The author talks about people typically employ different types of excuses to justify their failures. The habit of making excuses i.e excusitis is a mind-deadening thought disease. The more successful someone is, the less inclined they are to make excuses. On the other hand, the less successful someone is, you will notice that they make lots of excuses.

The author of The Magic of Thinking Big describes in detail the 4 most common forms of Excusitis:

  • Health Excusitis
  • Intelligence Excusitis
  • Age Excusitis
  • Luck Excusitis

He spends a good amount of time talking about each of the above exclusions(es). He then provides step-by-step action steps on how to eliminate them.

Destroy Fear

A Tourist Enjoying Nature

“Action cures fear. Indecision, postponement, on the other hand, fertilize fear. Jot that down in your success rule book right now. Action cures fear.”

All of us face one or more forms of fear.

In many cases, fear paralyzes to not get started. The book talks about the importance of action. The more time we spend in the inaction phase, the more fearful we become, and the less action we take. And our confidence goes down. The best antidote to fear is action.

Confidence is not an inert quality. Many times it is situational – we are confident in one area of our lives, while we are afraid in other areas.

The Magic of Thinking Big confirms that the only cure for this is to take regular action. Like a muscle, confidence can be built. The more you take steps to improve confidence, the more it grows.

Here are some specific action steps to start building confidence in your life.

  • Be a Front Seater
  • Practice making eye contact
  • Walk 25 percent faster
  • Practice Speaking up
  • Smile Big

Think Big


“Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches or pounds or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking. How big we think determines the size of our accomplishments.”

As the title suggests, the quality of our career & our lives is in direct proportion to the size of our thinking. Our results are directly proportional to the type of thinking.

Stray away from Negative small-minded images. Instead, reframe to thinking big-minded positive images.

The more we practice this habit – the more we can change the outlook of our lives.

Four ways to develop Big Thinker’s Vocabulary:

  • Use big positive, cheerful words and phrases to describe how you feel.
  • Use bright, cheerful, favorable words and phrases to describe other people.
  • Use positive language to encourage others.
  • Use positive words to outline plans to others.

Look at things not as they are, but as they can be. Visualization adds value to everything. A big thinker always visualizes what can be done in the future. He isn’t stuck in the present.”

Change the Way You Think About Yourself

“The fellow who thinks he is inferior, regardless of what his real qualifications may be, is inferior. For thinking regulates actions. If a man feels inferior, he acts that way, and no veneer of cover-up or bluff will hide this basic feeling for long. The person who feels he isn’t important isn’t”

There is a direct relationship between how you think about how you act.

And how you act directly affects how others perceive you.

The unfortunate reality of life is that people judge us based on our performance, and appearance. Taking the necessary action to change our image impacts other’s perceptions of us.

Another aspect is how you perceive your job. If you think your job is not valuable and your contributions are not important – then people will perceive the same. It is important to start thinking differently about your job. Start believing and acting as if your job is really important. And this will have a stronger impact on your career.

“You are what you think you are. Think more of yourself and there is more of you.”

The Importance of the Right Environment

Workplace Diversity - The magic of thinking big

“The person with a constructive off-the-job life nearly always is more successful than the person who lives in a dull, dreary home situation.”

The same way we watch our diet to improve our physical health – we must watch our minds to ensure a successful/happy life. First and foremost, it is important to change your attitude that success is attainable. It starts with the right belief.

Then it is important to find the most favorable environment – associates, friends, workplaces that will aid us in our quest for success.

Here are some ideas from the book on how to make your environment, make you successful:

  • Be environment-conscious.
  • Make your environment work for you, not against you.
  • Don’t let small-thinking people hold you back.
  • Get your advice from successful people.
  • Get plenty of psychological sunshine. Circulate in new groups.
  • Throw thought poison out of your environment.
  • Go first class in everything you do.

The book is filled with tons of other golden nuggets to help you chart a successful career and life.

The impressive thing about the concepts in The Magic of Thinking Big is that they are laid out in a way that anyone can implement them.

Add this book to your yearly reading list.

Don’t just read The Magic of Thinking Big once, but read it a few times a year!!

Written By
Nissar Ahamed is the Founder & CEO of CareerMetis.com. He is also the host of The Career Insider Podcast and the co-host of The C.A.R.E. Podcast

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