So, as part of my 30 Day Challenge series, I am also reading one book a month to help me get moving when it comes to my goals and future. My plan is to read the book and then use it to help me improve myself in some way. It is important to step up and do well but somewhere between work and friends and volunteering, it can feel a bit tough.
The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz was written in 1979, and in some of the examples it really shows. This book was generally written for salesmen (yes, men) but there still a lot of really great nuggets in here, so try to look past this. The book is longer than some and I really like the layout and the way he tells stories to help you think about your own limiting behaviours. At the end of each chapter, he provides a checklist and reminders concerning what was in the chapter, which is really helpful if you want to grab some of the main points but don’t have time to read the entire book again from beginning to end.
Here are some of my key takeaways…
1 – Continue to set higher and higher standards for yourself. Walk into a room and think about how you can make things better for others and not the other way around. Think about a nice restaurant. If you go there, you expect great service and lots of attention. You should try to give that level of service to others you meet. Keep asking yourself “How can I do this better?”
2 – Remember names and use them. I tried this with the cleaner at work. They always do a great job but no on seems to notice. I saw her in the lobby last week and she seemed surprised when I said “hello (insert name)” but I think it is nice to remember people that way. I am terrible at it though. I even got a book on memorisation but it doesn’t always work. I need a Devil Wears Prada style assistant who can remember 1000 names. This is part of his chapter on thinking right towards people.
3 – Another part of this chapter is a great checklist of sins to watch out for and that I know I commit on a regular basis: I forget names, I am easily ruffled at times, I am not that humble (I blame being an American), don’t be a know-it-all, deal with the “scratchy” parts of your personalty, let go of grievances, practice liking people, be a source of spiritual strength and remember to congratulate people or check in when they are facing sorrows.
I had a colleague who was in Paris during the bombings at the end of 2015. I emailed her to check in and she mentioned that none of the leadership on the team, not even her line manager had checked in to see if she was OK or if her friends and family were fine. I found that heartbreaking.
4 – Start talking to strangers a bit more. Say a kind word. Get to know people outside of your circle. Genuinely develop your skills for connecting with others.
5 – Get moving. Stop waiting to feel inspired and just get things done. He gives the example of successful salespeople and writers. At some point you just have to sell. You just have to write. One of his top salespeople told him that “the only way to start is to start”. He then gives two tips for making this happen: (1) make getting started mechanical (e.g. make bed as soon as you leave, don’t leave table without taking some dishes) and (2) move your spirit. Sit down with some coloured pencils and start mind-mapping or make a list or doddle. Stop waiting for magic and do something. Stop procrastinating. Do things now or as Schwartz calls it – “get into the action habit”.
6 – Stop worrying about setbacks and use them to propel you forward. Or, as my mom used to say “you have to keep on keeping on.” It can be tough to move forward when things feel like crap and everything seems to be on the wrong track. He uses the example of a plane crash – no one stops and says “that was too bad so let’s clean this up and walk away.” No, there are investigations, interviews, panels, etc. You have to see where things went wrong to make things right. Stop sulking (OK, maybe a little sulking is fine) and get better.
7 – Profit only comes from one source: investment. So true! This is not just about money though, it is about life. If you don’t invest in your relationships, you will have a breakup or a divorce. If you don’t invest in your well-being by eating right, getting regular check ups and working out, you will invite disease. If you are investing properly, you’ll have healthy relationships and a healthy body. He recommends investing heavily in two key things. First, education (and he means education and expertise, not a fancy degree) and, second, idea starters. Ideas starters might be a conference, a subscription to a magazine or newspaper or even a book. If you’re broke, head to the library, use meetup.com or local newspapers to help you find out about events.
He highlights the importance of putting this into action by creating a 10 year plan for yourself so that you don’t leave it to chance. Overall, there was some powerful stuff in here that anyone can use!