“How Successful People Think” by John Maxwell: Part Two

  1. 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.
  2. Strategic thinking is the bridge that links where you are to where you want to be.
  3. When most people begin using strategic thinking to solve a problem or plan a way to meet an objective, they often make the mistake of jumping the gun and trying immediately to figure out how to accomplish it. Instead of asking how, they should first ask why. If you jump right into problem solving mode, how are you going to know all of the issues.
  4. Asking why helps you to think about all the reasons for decisions.
  5. William Feather, author of The Business of Life, said, “Before it can be solved, a problem must be clearly defined.” Too many people rush to solutions, and as a result they end up solving the wrong problem.
  6. “Nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done.” ~Sam Ewing
  7. Nobody goes looking for a lost cause. You invest yourself in what you believe can succeed.
  8. Denis Waitly, author of The Psychology of Winning, says, “The winners in life think constantly in terms of ‘I can, I will and I am.’ Losers, on the other hand, concentrate their waking thoughts on what they should have done, or what they don’t do.”
  9. If you want to achieve something, give yourself permission to believe it is possible—no matter what experts might say.
  10. People often forget that you can’t improve and still stay the same. Growth means change. Change requires challenging the status quo. If you want greater possibilities, you can’t settle for what you have now.
  11. “Some men see things as they are and say, ‘Why?’ I dream of things that never were and say, ‘Why not?’”
  12. “To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.” ~Jules Henri Poincare
  13. The pace of our society does not encourage reflective thinking. Most people would rather act than think.
  14. Children don’t naturally grasp the value (or cost) of an experience unless prompted. They take things for granted.
  15. Reflective thinking enables you to distance yourself from the intense emotions of particularly good or bad experiences and see them with fresh eyes. You can see the thrills of the past in the light of emotional maturity and examine tragedies in the light of truth and logic. That process can help a person to stop carrying around a bunch of negative emotional baggage.
  16. Reflective thinking encourages us to go back and spend time pondering what we have done and what we have seen.
  17. Experience alone does not add value to a life. It’s not necessarily experience that is valuable; it’s the insight people gain because of their experience. Reflective thinking turns experience into insight.
  18. Mark Twain said, “We should be careful to get out of an experience all the wisdom that is in it—not like the cat that sits down on a hot stove lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove lid again—and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one anymore.”
  19. Some of the most valuable thoughts you’ve ever had may have been lost because you didn’t give yourself the reflection time you needed.
  20. The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from the old ones. Going against popular thinking can be difficult.
  21. We must always remember there is a huge different between acceptance and intelligence.
  22. If you want to succeed, you need to think about what’s best, not what’s popular.
  23. The greatest enemy to tomorrow’s success is sometimes todays success.
  24. “He that is taught only by himself has a fool for a master.” ~Ben Jonson


  1. If I Value People
    I want to spend time with them
    I listen to them
    I want to help them
    I am influenced by them
    I respect them
    If I Don’t Value People
    I don’t want to be around them
    I neglect to listen
    I don’t offer them help
    I ignore them
    I am indifferent


  1. In 1904, Bessie Anderson Stanley wrote the following definition of success in Brown Book magazine:
    He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children, who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it, who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had, whose life was an inspiration, whose memory a benediction.
  2. Everything begins with a thought. “Life consists of what a man is thinking about all day.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

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