How Successful People Think(John C. Maxwell) – Book Summary, Notes & Highlights

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This book is 127 pages filled with valuable information on how to transform your thinking to become successful. John C. Maxwell focuses on thought-processes that will lead you to see physical results. I’ve read this book twice and each time I learn something new! 


Thinking Questions:

  • Am I thinking beyond myself and my world so that I process ideas with a holistic perspective?
  • Am I dedicated to removing distractions and mental clutter so that I can concentrate on the real issue?
  • Am I working to break out of my “box” of limitations so that I explore ideas and options to experience creative breakthroughs?
  • Am I building a solid mental foundation on facts so that I can think with certainty?
  • Am I implementing strategic plans that give me direction for today and increase my potential for tomorrow? 
  • Am I unleashing the enthusiasm of possibility thinking to find solutions for even seemingly impossible situations? 
  • Am I regularly revisiting the past to gain a true perspective and think with understanding? 
  • Am I consciously rejecting the limitations of common thinking in order to accomplish uncommon results?
  • Am I consistently including the heads of others to think “over my head” and achieve compounding results?
  • Am I continually considering others and their journey in order to think with maximum collaboration?
  • Am I staying focused on the bottom line so that I can gain the maximum return and reap the full potential of my thinking?

The Right Thought plus the Right People in the Right Environment at the Right Time for the Right Reason = the Right Result


All ideas are valid

It’s okay to go down a different path

Different ideas come together to form better solutions

Every loss is a lesson


Learn Continually, Listen Intentionally, Look Expansively, and Live Completely

Leaders must be able to: 

See the vision before their people do

Size up situations, taking into account many variables

Sketch a picture of where the team is going

Show how the future connects with the past to make the journey more meaningful

Seize the moment when the timing is right

As Alvin Toffler says, “You’ve got to think about ‘big things’ while you’re doing small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”

Varied experiences – both positive and negative – help you see the big picture. The greater the variety of experience and success, the more potential to learn you have. 

To take ideas to the next level, you must shift from being expansive in your thinking to being selective.

The immature mind hops from one thing to another; the mature mind seeks to follow through. 

Being willing to give up some of the things you love in order to focus on what has the greatest impact isn’t an easy lesson to learn. But the earlier you embrace it, the sooner you can dedicate yourself to excellence in what matters most.

More than what you get done, more than the role you play, more than your title, more than your ‘output’ – it’s your ideas that matter. 

Creativity is being able to see what everybody else has seen and think what nobody else has thought so that you can do what nobody else has done.

The joy of not knowing it all refers to the realization that we seldom if ever have all the answers; we always have the ability to generate more solutions to just about any problem. 

Most limitations we face are not imposed on us by others; we place them on ourselves. 

If you want to break out of your own box, get into somebody else’s.

Reality is the difference between what we wish for and what is.

Change alone doesn’t bring growth but you cannot have growth without change. 

Disappointment is the difference between expectations and reality. Realistic thinking minimizes the difference between the two.

You can’t build a house in midair; it needs a solid foundation. Ideas and plans are the same. They need something concrete on which to build. 

Any time you shoot from the hip or go into a totally reactive mode, you increase your margin for error. It’s like a golfer stepping up to a golf ball and hitting it before lining up the shot. Misaligning a shot by just a few degrees can send the ball a hundred yards off target. Strategic thinking, however, greatly reduces that margin for error. It lines up your actions with your objectives, just as lining up a shot in golf helps you put the ball closer to the pin. The better aligned you are with your target, the better the odds that you will be going in the right direction. 

Little things can be won easily through systems and personal discipline.

People who think big attract big people to them. 

If you embrace possibility thinking, your dreams will go from molehill to mountain size, and because you believe in possibilities, you put yourself in position to achieve them. 

An experience becomes valuable when it informs or equips us to meet new experiences. 

Good thinking is hard work. If it were easy, everybody would be a good thinker. Unfortunately, many people try to live life the easy way. They don’t want to do the hard work of thinking or pay the price of success. It’s easier to do what other people do and hope they thought it out.

If you are successful, it becomes possible for you to leave an inheritance for others. But if you desire to do more, to create a legacy, then you need to leave that in others.

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