How Successful People Think | Audiobooks Full Length

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i've studied successful people for 40


and though the diversity you find among

them is astounding

i found that they are all alike in one


how they think that is the one thing

that separates

successful people from unsuccessful ones

and here's the good news how successful

people think

can be learned if you change your


you can change your life

why you should change your thinking

it's hard to overstate the value of

changing your thinking

good thinking can do many things for you

generate revenue

solve problems and create opportunities

it can take you to a whole new level

personally and professionally

it really can change your life

consider some things you need to know

about changing your thinking

one changed thinking is not

automatic sadly

a change in thinking doesn't happen on

its own

good ideas rarely go out and find

someone if you want to find a good idea

you must search for it if you want to

become a better thinker

you need to work at it and once you

begin to become a better thinker

the good ideas keep coming in fact

the amount of good thinking you can do

at any time depends primarily on the

amount of good thinking

you are already doing two

changed thinking is difficult

when you hear someone say now this is

just off the top of my head

expect dandruff the only people who

believe thinking is easy

are those who don't habitually engage in


nobel prize winning physicist albert


one of the best thinkers who ever lived


thinking is hard work that's why so few

do it

because thinking is so difficult you

want to use anything you can to help you

improve the process

three changed thinking is worth the


author napoleon hill observed more

gold has been mined from the thoughts of

man than has ever been taken from the


when you take the time to learn how to

change your thinking and become a better


you are investing in yourself gold mines


out stock markets crash real estate

investments can go sour

but a human mind with the ability to

think well is like a diamond mine that

never runs out

it's priceless

how to become a better thinker

do you want to master the process of

good thinking

do you want to be a better thinker

tomorrow than you are today

then you need to engage in an ongoing

process that improves your thinking

i recommend you do the following

one expose yourself to good

input good thinkers always prime the

pump of ideas

they always look for things to get the

thinking process started

because what you put in always impacts

what comes out

read books review trade magazines listen

to tapes

and spend time with good thinkers and

when something intrigues you

whether it's someone else's idea or the

seat of an idea that you've come up with


keep it in front of you put it in


and keep it somewhere in your favorite

thinking place to stimulate your


to expose yourself to good thinkers

spend time with the right people

as i worked on this section and bounce

my ideas off of some key people

so that my thoughts would be stretched i

realized something about myself

all of the people in my life whom i

consider to be close friends or


are thinkers now i love all people

i try to be kind to everyone i meet and

i desire to add value to as many people

as i can through conferences

books audio lessons etc

but the people i seek out and choose to

spend time with

all challenge me with their thinking and

their actions

they are constantly trying to grow and


that's true of my wife margaret my close


and the executives who run my companies

every one of them is a good thinker

the writer of proverbs observed that

sharp people

sharpen one another just as iron

sharpens iron

if you want to be a sharp thinker be


sharp people three

choose to think good thoughts

to become a good thinker you must become

intentional about the thinking process

regularly put yourself in the right

place to think

shape stretch and land your thoughts

make it a priority remember

thinking is a discipline

recently i had breakfast with dan kathy

the president of chick-fil-a a fast food

chain headquartered in the atlanta area

i told him that i was working on this

book and i asked him if he made thinking

time a high priority

not only did he say yes but he told me

about what he calls his

thinking schedule it helps him to fight

the hectic pace of life that discourages

intentional thinking

dan says he sets aside time just to

think for half a day every two weeks

for one whole day every month and for

two or three full days every year

dan explains this helps me keep the main


the main thing since i'm so easily


you may want to do something similar or

you can develop a schedule and method of

your own

no matter what you choose to do go to

your thinking place

take paper and pen and make sure you

capture your ideas in writing

four act on your good thoughts

ideas have a short shelf life you must

act on them before the expiration date

world war one flying ace eddie

rickenbacker said it all when he


i can give you a six word formula for


think things through then follow through

five allow your emotions to create

another good

thought to start the thinking process

you cannot rely on your feelings in

failing forward i wrote that you can act

your way into feeling long before you

can feel your way into action

if you wait until you feel like doing

something you will likely never

accomplish it

the same is true for thinking you cannot

wait until you feel like thinking to do


however i found that once you engage in

the process of good thinking

you can use your emotions to feed the

process and create mental momentum

try it for yourself after you go through

the discipline process of thinking

and enjoy some success allow yourself to

savor the moment

and try riding the mental energy of that


if you're like me it's likely to spur

additional thoughts and productive ideas

six repeat the process

one good thought does not make a good

life the people who have one good

thought and try to ride it for an entire


often end up unhappy or destitute

they are the one hit wonders the one

book authors

the one message speakers the one-time


who spend their life struggling to

protect or promote their single idea

success comes to those who have an

entire mountain of gold that they

continually mine

not those who find one nugget and try to

live on it for fifty years

to become someone who can mine a lot of

gold you need to keep repeating the

process of good thinking

putting yourself in the right place to


becoming a good thinker isn't overly


it's a discipline if you do the six

things i have outlined

you will set yourself up for a lifestyle

of better thinking

but what do you do to come up with

specific ideas on a day-to-day

basis i want to teach you the process

that i've used to discover and develop


thoughts it's certainly not the only one

that works

but it has worked well for me

one find a place to think your thoughts

if you go to your designated place to

think expecting to generate good


then eventually you will come up with

some where is the best place to think

everybody's different some people think

best in the shower

others like my friend dick biggs like to

go to a park

for me the best places to think are in

my car

on planes and in the spa

ideas come to me in other places as well

such as when i'm in bed

i keep a special lighted writing pad on

my nightstand for such times

i believe i often get thoughts because i

make it a habit to frequently go to my

thinking places

if you want to consistently generate

ideas you need to do the same thing

find a place where you can think and

plan to capture your thoughts on paper

so that you don't lose

them when i found a place to think my


my thoughts found a place in me

two find a place to shape your thoughts

rarely do ideas come fully formed and

completely worked out

most of the time they need to be shaped

until they have substance

as my friend dan ryland says they have


stand the test of clarity and


during the shaping time you want to hold

an idea up to strong scrutiny

many times a thought that seemed

outstanding late at night

looks pretty silly in the light of day


questions about your ideas fine tune


one of the best ways to do that is to

put your thoughts in writing

professor college president and u s


s i hayakawa wrote learning to write is

learning to think you don't know

anything clearly

unless you can state it in writing

as you shape your thoughts you find out

whether an idea has potential

you learn what you have you also learn

some things about yourself

the shaping time thrills me because it


humor the thoughts that don't work

often provide comic relief

humility the moments when i connect with


all me excitement

i love to play out an idea mentally i

call it futuring it

creativity in these moments i am

unhampered by reality fulfillment

god made me for this process it uses my

greatest gifts and gives me joy

honesty as i turn over an idea in my


i discover my true motives

passion when you shape a thought you

find out what you believe

and what really counts change

most of the changes i have made in my

life resulted from thorough thinking on

a subject

you can shape your thoughts almost

anywhere just find a place that works

for you

where you will be able to write things

down focus your attention without


and ask questions about your ideas

three find a place to stretch your


if you come upon great thoughts and

spend time mentally shaping them

don't think you're done and can stop

there if you do

you will miss some of the most valuable

aspects of the thinking process

you miss bringing others in and

expanding ideas to their greatest


earlier in my life i have to admit i was

often guilty of this error

i wanted to take an idea from seed

thought to solution

before sharing it with anyone even the

people it would most

impact i did this both at work and at


but over the years i have learned that

you can go much farther with a team

than you can go alone i've found a kind

of formula that can help you stretch

your thoughts

it says the right thought

plus the right people in the right


at the right time for the right reason

equals the right result

this combination is hard to beat like

every person

every thought has the potential to

become something great

when you find a place to stretch your

thoughts you find that potential

for find a place to land your thoughts

author c d jackson observes that great

ideas need landing gear

as well as wings any idea that remains

only an idea doesn't make a great impact

the real power of an idea comes when it

goes from abstraction

to application think about einstein's

theory of relativity

when he published his theories in 1905

and 1916

they were merely profound ideas their

real power came with the development of

the nuclear reactor in 1942

and the nuclear bomb in 1945

when scientists developed and

implemented einstein's ideas

the whole world changed

likewise if you want your thoughts to

make an impact

you need to land them with others so

that they can someday be implemented

as you plan for the application phase of

the thinking process

land your ideas first with yourself

landing an idea with yourself will give

you integrity

people will buy into an idea only after

they buy into the leader who

communicates it

before teaching any lesson i ask myself

three questions

do i believe it do i live it do i

believe others should live it

if i can't answer yes to all three

questions then i haven't landed it

key players let's face it

no idea will fly if the influencers

don't embrace it

after all they are the people who carry

thoughts from idea to implementation

those most affected

landing thoughts with the people on the

firing line will give you great insight

those closest to changes that occur as a

result of a new idea

can give you a reality read and that's


because sometimes even when you've

diligently completed the process of

creating a thought

shaping it and stretching it with other

good thinkers

you can still miss the mark

5. find a place to fly your thoughts

french philosopher henri louis bergson

who won the nobel prize in literature in


asserted that a person should think like

a man of action

act like a man of thought what good is


if it has no application in real life

thinking divorced from actions cannot be


learning how to master the process of

thinking well leads you to productive


if you can develop the discipline of

good thinking and turn it into a

lifetime habit

then you will be successful and

productive all of your life

once you've created shaped stretched and

landed your thoughts

then flying them can be fun and easy

portrait of a good thinker

you often hear someone say that a

colleague or friend is a good thinker

but that phrase means something

different to everyone

to one person it may mean having a high


while to another it could mean knowing a

bunch of trivia

or being able to figure out who done it

when reading a mystery novel

i believe that good thinking isn't just

one thing

it consists of several specific thinking


becoming a good thinker means developing

those skills to the best of your ability

it doesn't matter whether you were born

rich or poor

it doesn't matter if you have a third

grade education or possess a phd

it doesn't matter if you suffer from

multiple disabilities or you're the

picture of health

no matter what your circumstances you

can learn to be a good thinker

all you must do is be willing to engage

in the process every day

in built to last jim collins and jerry


describe what it means to be a visionary


the kind of company that epitomizes the

pinnacle of american business

they describe those companies this way

a visionary company is like a great work

of art

think of michelangelo's scenes from

genesis on the ceiling of the sistine


or his statue of david think of a great

and enduring novel like huckleberry finn

or crime and punishment think of

beethoven's ninth symphony or

shakespeare's henry v

think of a beautifully designed building

like the masterpieces of frank lloyd


or ludwig mies van der rohe you can't

point to any one single item that makes

the whole thing work

it's the entire work all the pieces

working together to create an overall


that leads to enduring greatness

good thinking is similar you need all

the thinking pieces

to become the kind of person who can

achieve great things

those pieces include the following 11


seeing the wisdom of big picture


unleashing the potential of focused


discovering the joy of creative thinking

recognizing the importance of realistic


releasing the power of strategic


feeling the energy of possibility


embracing the lessons of reflective


questioning the acceptance of popular


encouraging the participation of shared


experiencing the satisfaction of

unselfish thinking

enjoying the return of bottom line


as you read the chapters dedicated to

each kind of thinking

you will discover that they do not try

to tell you what to think

they attempt to teach you how to think

as you become acquainted with each skill

you will find that some you do well

others you don't

learn to develop each of those kinds of

thinking and you will become

a better thinker master all that you can

including the process of shared thinking

which helps you compensate for your weak


and your life will change

how successful people think

chapter one cultivate big picture


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


david schwartz

big picture thinking can benefit any

person in any profession

when somebody like jack welch tells a ge

employee that the ongoing relationship

with a customer

is more important than the sale of an

individual product

he's reminding them of the big picture

when two parents are fed up with potty


poor grades or fender benders and one

reminds the other that the current

difficult time is only a temporary

season then they benefit from thinking

big picture

real estate developer donald trump


you have to think anyway so why not

think big

big picture thinking brings wholeness

and maturity to a person's thinking

it brings perspective it's like making

the frame of a picture bigger

in the process expanding not only what

you can see

but what you are able to do

spend time with big picture thinkers and

you will find that they

learn continually big picture thinkers

are never

satisfied with what they already know

they are

always visiting new places reading new


meeting new people learning new skills

and because of that practice they often

are able to connect

the unconnected they are lifelong


help me maintain a learner's attitude i

spend a few moments

every morning thinking about my learning

opportunities for the day

as i review my calendar and to-do list

knowing whom i will meet that day

what i will read which meetings i will


i note where i am most likely to learn


then i mentally cue myself to look

attentively for something that will

improve me in that situation

if you desire to keep learning i want to

encourage you to examine your day

and look for opportunities to learn

listen intentionally an

excellent way to broaden your experience

is to listen to someone who has

expertise in an area where you don't

i search for such opportunities one year

i spoke to about nine hundred coaches

and scouts at the senior bowl

where graduating football players

participate in their last college game

i had the opportunity along with my

son-in-law steve miller

to have dinner with nfl head coaches

dave wanstead

and butch davis it's not often that you

get such an opportunity

so i asked them questions about teamwork

and spent a lot of time listening to


at the end of the evening as steve and i

were walking to our car

he said to me john i bet you asked those

coaches a hundred questions tonight

if i'm going to learn and grow i replied

i must know what questions to ask and

know how to apply the answers to my life

listening has taught me a lot more than


when you meet with people it's good to

have an agenda so that you can learn

it's a great way to partner with people

who can do things you can't

big picture thinkers recognize that they

don't know lots of things

they frequently ask penetrating

questions to enlarge their understanding

and thinking

if you want to become a better big

picture thinker

then become a good listener

look expansively writer henry david

thoreau wrote

many an object is not seen though it

falls within the range of our visual ray

because it does not come within the

range of our intellectual

ray human beings habitually see their

own world

first for example when people arrive at

a leadership conference put on by my


enjoy they want to know where they're

going to park

whether they will be able to get a good

and comfortable seat

whether the speaker will be on and if

the brakes will be spaced right

when i arrive to speak at the same

conference i want to know that the

lighting is good

the sound equipment is operating

effectively whether the speaker's

platform will be close enough to the


etcetera who you are determines what you


and how you think big picture thinkers

realize there is a world out there

besides their own and they make an

effort to get outside of themselves

and see other people's worlds through

their eyes

it's hard to see the picture while

inside the frame

to see how others see you must first

find out

how they think becoming a good listener

certainly helps with that

so does getting over your personal

agenda and trying to take the other

person's perspective

live completely

french essayist michela came to

montaigne wrote

the value of life lies not in the length

of days

but in the use we make of them a man may

live long

yet live very little the truth is that

you can spend your life any way you want

but you can spend it only once becoming

a big picture thinker

can help you to live with wholeness to

live a very fulfilling life

people who see the big picture expand

their experience

because they expand their world as a


they accomplish more than narrow-minded

people and they experience

fewer unwanted surprises too because

they are more likely to see the many

components involved in any given


issues people relationships

timing and values they are also


usually more tolerant of other people in

their thinking

why you should receive the wisdom of big

picture thinking

intuitively you probably recognize big

picture thinking is beneficial

few people want to be closed-minded

no one sets out to be that way but just

in case you're not completely convinced

consider several specific reasons why

you should make the effort to become a


big picture thinker one

big picture thinking allows you to lead

you can find many big picture thinkers

who aren't leaders

but you will find few leaders who are

not big picture thinkers

leaders must be able to do many

important things for their people

see the vision before their people do

they also see more of it this allows

them to

size up situations taking into account

many variables

leaders who see the big picture discern

possibilities as well as problems

to form a foundation to build the vision

once leaders have done that they can

sketch a picture of where the team is


including any potential challenges or


the goal of leaders shouldn't be merely

to make their people feel good

but to help them be good and accomplish

the dream

the vision shown accurately will allow

leaders to

show how the future connects with the

past to make the journey more meaningful

when leaders recognize this need for

connection and bridge it

then they can seize the moment when the

timing is right

in leadership when to move is as

important as what you do as winston

churchill said

there comes a special moment in

everyone's life

a moment for which that person was born

when he seizes it

it is his finest hour

whether building roads planning a trip

or moving in leadership

big picture thinking allows you to enjoy

more success

people who are constantly looking at the

whole picture have the best chance of

succeeding in any endeavor

2. big picture thinking keeps you on


thomas fuller chaplain to charles ii of


observed he that is everywhere

is nowhere to get things done

you need focus however to get the right

things done

you also need to consider the big


only by putting your daily activities in

the context of the big picture

will you be able to stay on target

as alvin toffler says you've got to

think about

big things while you're doing small


so that all the small things go in the

right direction

three big picture thinking

allows you to see what others see

one of the most important skills you can

develop in human relations

is the ability to see things from the

other person's point of view

it's one of the keys to working with

clients satisfying customers

maintaining a marriage rearing children

helping those who are less fortunate

etcetera all human interactions

are enhanced by the ability to put

yourself in another person's shoes

how look beyond yourself

your own interests in your own world

when you work to consider an issue from

every possible angle

examine it in the light of another's

history discover the interests and

concerns of others

and try to set aside your own agenda you

begin to see what others see

and that is a powerful thing

for big picture thinking promotes


if you participate in any kind of team


then you know how important it is that

team members see the whole picture

not just their own part anytime a person

doesn't know how his work fits with that

of his teammates

then the whole team is in trouble the

better the grasp

team members have of the big picture the

greater their potential to work together

as a team

five big picture thinking keeps you from

being caught up in the mundane

let's face it some aspects of everyday


are absolutely necessary but thoroughly


big picture thinkers don't let the grind

get to them because they don't lose

sight of the all-important overview

they know that the person who forgets

the ultimate is a slave to the immediate

six big picture thinking helps you to


uncharted territory have you ever heard

the expression

we'll cross that bridge when we come to


that phrase undoubtedly was coined by

someone who had trouble seeing the big


the world was built by people who

crossed bridges in their minds long

before anyone else did

the only way to break new ground or move

into uncharted territory

is to look beyond the immediate and see

the big picture

how to acquire the wisdom of big picture


if you desire to seize new opportunities

and open new horizons

then you need to add big picture

thinking to your abilities

to become a good thinker better able to

see the big picture

keep in mind the following suggestions

one don't strive for certainty

big picture thinkers are comfortable

with ambiguity

they don't try to force every

observation or piece of data into

pre-formulated mental cubby holes

they think broadly and can juggle many

seemingly contradictory thoughts in

their minds

if you want to cultivate the ability to

think big picture

then you must get used to embracing and

dealing with complex and diverse

ideas 2.

learn from every experience

big picture thinkers broaden their

outlook by striving to learn from

every experience they don't rest on

their successes

they learn from them more importantly

they learn from their failures they can

do that

because they remain teachable varied


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

if you desire to be a big picture

thinker then get out there and try a lot

of things

take a lot of chances and take time to

learn after

every victory or defeat

three gain insight from a variety of


big picture thinkers learn from their


but they also learn from experiences

they don't have

that is they learn by receiving insight

from others

from customers employees colleagues and


if you desire to broaden your thinking

and see more of the big picture

then seek out counselors to help you but

be wise in whom you ask for advice

gaining insight from a variety of people

doesn't mean stopping anyone and

everyone in hallways and grocery store


and asking what they think about a given


be selective talk to people who know and

care about you

who know their field and who bring

experience deeper and broader than your


for give yourself permission to expand

your world

if you want to be a big picture thinker

you will have to go against the flow of

the world

society wants to keep people in boxes

most people are married

mentally to the status quo they want

what was

not what can be they seek safety and

simple answers

to think big picture you need to give

yourself permission to go a different


to break new ground to find new worlds

to conquer

and when your world does get bigger you

need to celebrate

never forget there is more out there in

the world than what you've experienced

keep learning keep growing and keep

looking at the big picture

if you desire to be a good thinker

that's what you need to do

thinking question am i thinking beyond

myself in my world

so that i process ideas with a holistic


chapter two engage in focused thinking

he did each thing as if he did nothing


spoken of novelist charles dickens

philosopher bertrand russell once


to be able to concentrate for a

considerable time

is essential to difficult achievement

sociologist robert lind observed that

knowledge is power only if a man knows

what facts are not to bother about

focused thinking removes distractions

and mental clutter

so that you can concentrate on an issue

and think with clarity

focused thinking can do several things

for you

one focused thinking

harnesses energy toward a desired goal

focus can bring energy and power to

almost anything

whether physical or mental if you're

learning how to pitch a baseball

and you want to develop a good curveball

then focused thinking while practicing

will improve your technique if you need

to refine the manufacturing process of

your product

focused thinking will help you develop

the best method

if you want to solve a difficult

mathematics problem

focused thinking helps you break through

to the solution

the greater the difficulty of a problem

or issue

the more focused thinking time is

necessary to solve it

two focused thinking gives ideas time to


i love to discover and develop ideas

i often bring my creative team together

for brainstorming and creative thinking

when we first get together we try to be

exhaustive in our thinking in order to

generate as many ideas as possible

the birthing of a potential breakthrough

often results from sharing many good


but to take ideas to the next level you

must shift from being expansive in your


to being selective i have discovered

that a good idea can become a great idea

when it is given focus time it's true

that focusing on a single idea for a

long time can be very frustrating

i've often spent days focusing on a

thought and trying to develop it

only to find that i could not improve

the idea

but sometimes my perseverance in focused

thinking pays off

that brings me great joy and when

focused thinking is at its best

not only does the idea grow but so do i

three focused thinking brings clarity to

the target

i consider golf one of my favorite


it's a wonderfully challenging game i

like it because the objectives are so


professor william mobley of the

university of south carolina

made the following observation about


one of the most important things about

golf is the presence of clear goals

you see the pins you know the par

it's neither too easy nor unattainable

you know your average score

and there are competitive goals

competitive with par

with yourself and others these goals

give you something to shoot at

in work as in golf goals motivate

one time on the golf course i followed a

golfer who neglected to put the pin back

in the hole after he putted

because i could not see my target i

couldn't focus properly

my focus quickly turned to frustration

and to poor play

to be a good golfer a person needs to

focus on a clear target

the same is true in thinking focus helps

you to know the goal

and to achieve it

four focused thinking will take you to

the next level

no one achieves greatness by becoming a


you don't own a skill by diluting your

attention to its development

the only way to get to the next level is

to focus

no matter whether your goal is to

increase your level of play

sharpen your business plan improve your

bottom line

develop your subordinates or solve

personal problems

you need to focus author harry a

overstreet observed

the immature mind hops from one thing to


the mature mind seeks to follow through

where should you focus your thinking

does every area of your life deserve

dedicated focused thinking time

of course the answer is no be selective

not exhaustive in your focused thinking

for me that means dedicating in-depth

thinking time to four

areas leadership creativity

communication and intentional networking

your choices will probably differ from


here are a few suggestions to help you

figure them out

identify your priorities

first take into account your priorities

for yourself your family and your team

author consultant and award-winning

thinker edward de bono quipped

a conclusion is the place where you get

tired of thinking

unfortunately many people land on

priorities based on where they run out

of steam

you certainly don't want to do that nor

do you want to let others set your


there are many ways to determine


if you know yourself well begin by

focusing on your strengths

the things that make best use of your

skills and god-given talents

you might also focus on what brings the

highest return and reward

do what you enjoy most and do best

you could use the 80 20 rule

give 80 percent of your effort to the

top twenty percent

most important activities another way is

to focus on exceptional opportunities

that promise a huge return

it comes down to this give your

attention to the areas that bear

fruit discover your gifts

not all people are self-aware and have a

good handle on their own skills

gifts and talents they are a little like

the comic strip character charlie brown

one day after striking out in a baseball

game he says

rats i'll never be a big league player

i just don't have it all my life i've


of playing in the big leagues but i'll

never make it

to which lucy replies charlie brown

you're thinking too far ahead what you

need to do is set more immediate goals

for yourself

for a moment charlie brown sees a ray of


immediate goals he says yes

answers lucy start with the next inning

when you go out to pitch see if you can

walk out to the mound without falling


i've met many individuals who grew up in

a household full of lucy's

they received little encouragement or

affirmation and as a result

seem at a loss for direction if you have

that kind of background

you need to work extra hard to figure

out what your gifts are

take a personality profile such as disc

or myers-briggs

interview positive friends and family

members to see where they think you


spend some time reflecting on past


if you're going to focus your thinking

in your areas of strength

you need to know what they are

develop your dream

if you want to achieve great things you

need to have a great dream

if you're not sure of your dream use

your focused thinking time to help you

discover it

if your thinking has returned to a

particular area time after time

you may be able to discover your dream


give it more focused time and see what


once you find your dream move forward

without second guessing

take the advice of satchel page don't

look back

something might be gaining on you

the younger you are the more likely you

will give your attention to many things

that's good because if you're young

you're still getting to know yourself

your strengths and weaknesses

if you focus your thinking on only one

thing and your aspirations change

then you've wasted your best mental


as you get older and more experienced

the need to focus becomes more critical

the farther and higher you go the more

focused you can be

and need to be

how can you stay focused

once you have a handle on what you

should think about

you must decide how to better focus on


here are five suggestions to help you

with the process

one remove distractions

removing distractions is no small matter

in our current culture

but it's critical how do you do it

first by maintaining the discipline of

practicing your priorities

don't do easy things first or hard

things first

or urgent things first do first things


the activities that give you the highest


in that way you keep the distractions to

a minimum

second insulate yourself from


i've found that i need blocks of time to

think without interruptions

i've mastered the art of making myself

unavailable when necessary

and going off to my thinking place so

that i can work without interruptions

because of my responsibilities as

founder of three companies however

i am always aware of the tension between

my need to remain accessible to others

as a leader

and my need to withdraw from them to


the best way to resolve the tension is

to understand the value of both


walking slowly through the crowd allows

me to connect with people

and know their needs withdrawing from

the crowd

allows me to think of ways to add value

to them

my advice to you is to place value on

and give attention to both

if you naturally withdraw then make sure

to get out among people more often

if you're always on the go and rarely

withdraw for thinking time

then remove yourself periodically so

that you can unleash the potential of

focused thinking

and wherever you are be there

two make time for focused thinking

once you have a place to think you need

the time to think

because of the fast pace of our culture

people tend to multitask

but that's not always a good idea

switching from task to task can cost you

up to 40

efficiency according to researchers

if you're trying to accomplish many

things at the same time

you'll get more done by focusing on one

task at a time

not by switching constantly from one

task to another

years ago i realized that my best

thinking time

occurs in the morning whenever possible

i reserve my mornings for thinking and


one way to gain time for focused

thinking is to impose upon yourself a

role that one company implemented

don't allow yourself to look at email

until after 10 am

instead focus your energies on your

number one priority

put non-productive time wasters on hold

so that you can create

thinking time for yourself

three keep items of focus before you

ralph waldo emerson the great

transcendental thinker believed

concentration is the secret of strength

in politics

in war in trade in short in all

management of human affairs

to help me concentrate on the things

that matter

i work to keep important items before me

one way is to ask my assistant linda

eggers to keep bringing it up

asking me about it giving me additional

information in reference to it

i'll also keep a file or page on my desk

so that i see it every day as i work

that strategy has successfully helped me

for thirty years to stimulate and

sharpen ideas

if you've never done it i recommend that

you try it

i'll tell you more about it in the

section on reflective thinking

four set goals

i believe goals are important the mind

will not focus

until it has clear objectives but the

purpose of goals

is to focus your attention and give you


not to identify a final destination

as you think about your goals note that

they should be

clear enough to be kept in focus

close enough to be achieved helpful

enough to change lives

those guidelines will get you going and

be sure to write down your goals

if they're not written i can almost

guarantee that they're not focused


and if you really want to make sure

they're focused take the advice of david

belasco who says

if you can't write your idea on the back

of my business card

you don't have a clear idea

even if you look back years from now and

think your goals were too small

they will have served their purpose if

they provide you with direction

five question your progress

take a good look at yourself from time

to time to see whether you are actually

making progress

that is the most accurate measure of

whether you're making the best use of

focused thinking

ask yourself am i seeing a return for my

investment of focused thinking time

is what i am doing getting me closer to

my goals

am i headed in a direction that helps me

to fulfill my commitments

maintain my priorities and realize my


what are you giving up to go up

no one can go to the highest level and

remain a generalist

my dad used to say find the one thing

you do well

and don't do anything else

i've found that to do well at a few

things i've had to give up many things

as i worked on this chapter i spent some

time reflecting on the kinds of things

i've given

up here are the main ones

i can't know everyone

i love people and i'm outgoing put me

into a room full of people and i feel

energized so it goes against my grain to

restrict myself from spending time with

lots of people

to compensate for that i've done a

couple of things

first i've chosen a strong inner circle

of people

they not only provide tremendous

professional help but they also make

life's journey much more pleasant

second i ask certain friends to catch me

up on what's happening in the lives of

other friends

i usually do that when i'm traveling and

can't block out the time i would need

for focused thinking

i can't do everything

there are only a few exceptional

opportunities in any person's lifetime

that's why i strive for excellence in a

few things

rather than a good performance in many

that's cost me

because of my workload i also have to

skip doing many things that i would love

to do

for example every week i hand off

projects that i think would be fun to do


i practice the 10 80 10 principle

with the people to whom i'm delegating a


help with the first ten percent by

casting vision

laying down parameters providing

resources and giving encouragement

then once they've done the middle eighty

percent i come alongside them again

and help them take whatever it is the

rest of the way if i can

i call it putting the cherry on top

i can't go everywhere

every conference speaker and author has

to travel a lot

before i began doing much speaking that

seemed like a glamorous life

but after logging several million miles

i know what kind of a toll it can take

ironically i still love traveling for

pleasure with my wife margaret

it's one of our great joys she and i

could take ten vacations a year and


every one of them yet we can't because

so much of my time is consumed doing

what i was called to do

help people to grow personally and to

develop as leaders

i can't be well-rounded

being focused also keeps me from being


i tell people 99 of everything in life

i don't need to know about

i try to focus on the one percent that

gives me the highest return

and of the remaining 99 margaret keeps

me aware of whatever i need to know

it's one of the ways i keep from getting

totally out of balance in my life

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

thinking question

i dedicated to removing distractions and

mental clutter

so that i can concentrate with clarity

on the real issue

chapter 3 harness creative thinking

the joy is in creating not maintaining

vince lombardi nfl hall of fame coach

creativity is pure gold no matter what

you do for a living

annette moser wellman author of the five

faces of genius asserts

the most valuable resource you bring to

your work and to your firm

is your creativity 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

despite the importance of a person's

ability to think with creativity

few people seem to possess the skill in


if you're not as creative as you would

like to be you can change your way of


creative thinking isn't necessarily

original thinking

in fact i think people mythologize

original thought

most often creative thinking is a

composite of other thoughts discovered

along the way

even the great artists whom we consider

highly original

learn from their masters modeled their

work on that of others

and brought together a host of ideas and

styles to create their own work

study art and you will see threads that

run through the work of all artists and

artistic movements

connecting them to other artists who

went before them

characteristics of creative thinkers

perhaps you're not even sure what i mean

when i ask whether you are a creative


consider some characteristics that

creative thinkers have in common

creative thinkers value ideas

annette moser wellman observes highly

creative people are

dedicated to ideas they don't rely on

their talent alone

they rely on their discipline their

imagination is like a second skin

they know how to manipulate it to its


creativity is about having ideas lots of


you will have ideas only if you value


creative thinkers explore options

i've yet to meet a creative thinker who

didn't love options

exploring a multitude of possibilities

helps to stimulate the imagination

and imagination is crucial to creativity

as albert einstein put it imagination is

more important

than knowledge people who know me well

will tell you that i place a very high

value on options

why because they provide the key to

finding the best answer

not the only answer good thinkers come

up with the best answers

they create backup plans that provide

them with alternatives

they enjoy freedom that others do not

possess and they will

influence and lead others

creative thinkers embrace ambiguity

writer h l menken said it is the dull

man who is always sure

and the sure man who is always dull

creative people don't feel the need to

stamp out uncertainty

they see all kinds of inconsistencies

and gaps in life

and they often take delight in exploring

those gaps or in using their imagination

to fill them in

creative thinkers celebrate the offbeat

creativity by its very nature often

explores off the beaten path and goes

against the grain

diplomat and long-time president of yale


kingman brewster said there is a

correlation between the creative

and the screw ball so we must suffer the

screwball gladly

to foster creativity in yourself or


be willing to tolerate a little oddness

creative thinkers connect the


because creativity utilizes the ideas of


there's great value in being able to

connect one idea to another

especially to seemingly unrelated ideas

graphic designer tim hanson says

creativity is especially expressed in

the ability to make connections

to make associations to turn things

around and express them in a new way

creating additional thoughts is like

taking a trip in your car

you may know where you're going but only

as you move toward your destination can

you see and experience

things in a way not possible before you


creative thinking works something like


think then collect then create

then correct then connect

once you begin to think you are free to


you ask yourself what material relates

to this thought

once you have the material you ask what

ideas can make the thought better

that can start to take an idea to the

next level

after that you can correct or refine it

by asking

what changes can make these ideas better

finally you connect the ideas by

positioning them in the right context to

make the thought complete

and powerful

creative thinkers don't fear failure

creativity demands the ability to be

unafraid of failure

because creativity equals failure you

may be surprised to hear such a


but it's true charles frankel asserts


anxiety is the essential condition of

intellectual and artistic creation

creativity requires a willingness to

look stupid

it means getting out on a limb knowing

that the limb

often breaks creative people know these


and still keep searching for new ideas

they just don't let the ideas that don't

work prevent them from coming up with

more ideas that

do work why you should discover the joy

of creative thinking

creativity can improve a person's

quality of life

here are five specific things creative

thinking has the potential to do for you

one creative thinking

adds value to everything

wouldn't you enjoy a limitless reservoir

of ideas that you could draw upon at any


that's what creative thinking gives you

for that reason

no matter what you're currently able to

do creativity can increase your


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


sometimes creative thinking lies along

the lines of invention

where you break new ground other times

it moves along the lines of innovation

which helps you to do old things in a

new way

but either way it's seeing the world

through sufficiently new eyes

so that new solutions appear that always

adds value

two creative thinking compounds

over the years i've found that creative


is hard work but creative thinking

compounds given enough time and focus

perhaps more than any other kind of

thinking creative thinking

builds on itself and increases the

creativity of the thinker

poet maya angelou observed you can't use

up creativity

the more you use the more you have

sadly too often creativity is smothered

rather than nurtured

there has to be a climate in which new

ways of thinking perceiving

questioning or encouraged if you

cultivate creative thinking

in an environment that nurtures

creativity there's no telling what kind

of ideas you can come up with

i'll talk more on that later

three creative thinking draws people to


and your ideas

creativity is intelligence having fun

people admire intelligence and they are

always attracted to fun

so the combination is fantastic if

anyone could be said to have fun with

his intelligence

it was leonardo da vinci the diversity

of his ideas and expertise

staggers the mind he was a painter

architect sculptor anatomist musician

inventor and engineer the term

renaissance man was coined because of


just as people were drawn to da vinci

and his ideas during the renaissance

they are drawn to creative people today

if you cultivate creativity

you will become more attractive to other

people and they will be drawn to you

4. creative thinking helps you learn


author and creativity expert ernie

zielinski says

creativity is the joy of not knowing it


the joy of not knowing it all refers to

the realization

that we seldom if ever have all the


we always have the ability to generate

more solutions to just about any problem

being creative is being able to see or

imagine a great deal of opportunity to

life's problems

creativity is having options

it almost seems too obvious to say but

if you are always actively seeking new


you will learn creativity is


it's seeing more solutions than problems

and the greater the quantity of thoughts

the greater the chance for learning

something new

five creative thinking challenges the

status quo

if you desire to improve your world or

even your own situation

then creativity will help you

the status quo and creativity are


creativity and innovation always walk

hand in hand

how to discover the joy of creative


at this point you may be saying okay

i'm convinced that creative thinking is


but how do i find the creativity within


how do i discover the joy of creative


here are five ways to do it

one remove creativity killers

economics professor and humor author

stephen licock said

personally i would sooner have written

alice in wonderland than the whole

encyclopedia britannica

he valued the warmth of creativity over

cold facts

if you do too then you need to eliminate

attitudes that devalue creative thinking

take a look at the following phrases

they are almost

guaranteed to kill creative thinking

anytime you hear or think them

i'm not a creative person follow the


don't ask questions don't be different

stay within the lines there is only one


don't be foolish be practical

be serious think of your image

that's not logical it's not practical

it's never been done it can't be done

it didn't work for them we tried that


it's too much work we can't afford to

make a mistake

it will be too hard to administer

we don't have the time we don't have the


yes but play

is frivolous failure

is final if you think you have a great


don't let anyone talk you out of it even

if it sounds foolish

don't let yourself or anyone else

subject you to creativity killers

after all you can't do something new and


if you force yourself to stay in the

same old rut

don't just work harder at the same old


make a change

two think creatively by asking the right


creativity is largely a matter of asking

the right questions

management trainer sir anthony j said

the uncreative mind can spot wrong

answers but it takes a creative mind

to spot wrong questions wrong questions

shut down the process of creative


they direct thinkers down the same old

path or they chide them into believing

that thinking isn't necessary

at all to stimulate creative thinking

ask yourself questions such as why must

it be done this way

what is the root problem what are the

underlying issues

what does this remind me of what is the


what metaphor or symbol helps to explain


why is it important what's the hardest

or most expensive way to do it

who has a different perspective on this

what happens if we don't do it at all

you get the idea and you can probably

come up with better questions yourself

physicist tom hirschfield observed

if you don't ask why this often enough

somebody will ask why you

if you want to think creatively you must

ask good questions

you must challenge the process

three develop a creative environment

charlie brower said a new idea

is delicate it can be killed by a sneer

or a yawn

it can be stabbed to death by a quip and

worried to death by a frown on the right

man's brow

negative environments kill thousands of

great ideas every minute

a creative environment on the other hand

becomes like a greenhouse where ideas

get seeded

sprout up and flourish

a creative environment encourages

creativity david hills

says studies of creativity suggest that

the biggest single variable of whether

or not

employees will be creative is whether

they perceive they have permission

when innovation and good thinking are

openly encouraged and rewarded

then people see that they have

permission to be creative

a creative environment places a high

value on trust among team members and

individuality creativity always risks


that's why trust is so important to

creative people

in the creative process trust comes from

people working together

from knowing that people on the team

have experience launching

successful creative ideas and from the

assurance that creative ideas won't go

to waste

because they will be implemented a

creative environment

embraces those who are creative

creative people celebrate the offbeat

how should creative people be treated

i take the advice of tom peters weed out

the dullards

nurture the nuts i do that by spending

time with them

which i enjoy anyway i especially like

to pull people into brainstorming


people look forward to an invitation to

such meetings because the time will be

filled with energy

ideas and laughter and the odds are high

that a new project

seminar or business strategy will result

when that happens they also know a

party's coming

a creative environment focuses on


not just invention

sam weston creator of the popular action


gi joe said truly groundbreaking ideas

are rare

but you don't necessarily need one to

make a career out of creativity

my definition of creativity is the

logical combination of

two or more existing elements that

result in a new concept

the best way to make a living with your

imagination is to develop innovative


not imagine completely new concepts

creative people say give me a good idea

and i'll give you a better idea

a creative environment is willing to let

people go outside the lines

most people automatically stay within


even if those lines have been

arbitrarily drawn or are terribly out of


remember most limitations we face

are not imposed on us by others we place

them on ourselves

lack of creativity often falls into that


if you want to be more creative

challenge boundaries

inventor charles kettering said all

human development

no matter what form it takes must be

outside the rules

otherwise we would never have anything


a creative environment takes that into


a creative environment appreciates the

power of a dream

a creative environment promotes the

freedom of a dream

a creative environment encourages the

use of a blank sheet of paper and the


if we could draw a picture of what we

want to accomplish

what would that look like a creative


allowed martin luther king jr to speak

with passion

and declare to millions i have a dream

not i have a goal goals may give focus

but dreams give power dreams expand the


that is why james allen suggested that


are the saviors of the world

the more creativity friendly you can

make your environment

the more potential it has to become


for spend time with other creative


what if the place you work has an

environment hostile to creativity

and you possess little ability to change


one possibility is to change jobs

but what if you desire to keep working

there despite the negative environment

your best option is to find a way to

spend time with other creative people

creativity is contagious have you ever

noticed what happens during a good

brainstorming session

one person throws out an idea another

person uses it as a springboard to


another idea someone else takes it in

yet another even better direction

then somebody grabs hold of it and takes

it to a whole new level

the interplay of ideas can be electric

i have a strong group of creative

individuals in my life

i make sure to spend regular time with


when i leave them i always feel


i'm full of ideas and i see things


they truly are indispensable to my life

it's a fact that you begin to think like

the people you spend a lot of time with

the more time you can spend with

creative people engaging in creative


the more creative you will become

five get out of your box

actress catherine hepburn remarked

if you obey all the rules you will miss

all the fun

while i don't think it's necessary to

break all the rules

many are in place to protect us i do

think it's unwise to allow self-imposed

limitations to hinder us

creative thinkers know that they must

repeatedly break out of the box of their

own history and personal limitations

in order to experience creative


the most effective way to help yourself

get out of the box

is to expose yourself to new paradigms

one way you can do that is by traveling

to new places

explore other cultures countries and

traditions find out how people very

different from you

live and think another is to read on new


i'm naturally curious and love to learn

but i still have a tendency to read

books only on my favorite subjects such

as leadership

i sometimes have to force myself to read

books that broaden my thinking

because i know it's worth it if you want

to break out of your own box

get into somebody else's read broadly

many people mistakenly believe that if

individuals aren't born with creativity

they will never be creative but you can


from the many strategies and examples

i've given

that creativity can be cultivated in the

right supportive environment

thinking question am i working to break

out of my box of limitations

so that i explore ideas and options to

experience creative breakthroughs

chapter 4 employ realistic thinking

the first responsibility of a leader is

to define

reality max dupree

chairman of the board of hermann miller


as anyone knows who's been out of school

for a few years

there's usually a huge gap between a

college education

and the reality of the working world


early in my career i went out of my way

to avoid too much realistic thinking

because i thought it would interfere

with my creative thinking

but as i've grown i've come to realize

that realistic thinking

adds to my life

reality check reality is the difference

between what we wish

and what is it took some time for me to

evolve into a realistic thinker

the process went in phases first

i did not engage in realistic thinking

at all

after a while i realized that it was


so i began to engage in it occasionally

but i didn't like it because i thought

it was too negative

and anytime i could delegate it i did

eventually i found that i had to engage

in realistic thinking if i was going to

solve problems

and learn from my mistakes and in time

i became willing to think realistically

before i got in trouble

and make it a continual part of my life

today i encourage my key leaders to

think realistically

we make realistic thinking the

foundation of our business

because we derive certainty and security

from it

why you should recognize the importance

of realistic thinking

if you're a naturally optimistic person

as i am

you may not possess great desire to

become a more realistic thinker

but cultivating the ability to be

realistic in your thinking

will not undermine your faith in people

nor will it lessen your ability to see

and seize opportunities instead

it will add value to you in other ways

one realistic thinking minimizes

downside risk

actions always have consequences

realistic thinking helps you to

determine what those consequences could


and that's crucial because only by

recognizing and considering consequences

can you plan for them if you plan for

the worst case scenario

you can minimize the downside risk

two realistic thinking gives you a

target and a game plan

i've known business people who are not

realistic thinkers

here's the good news they were very

positive and had a high degree of hope

for their business

here's the bad news hope is not a


realistic thinking leads to excellence

in leadership and management

because it requires people to face


they begin to define their target and

develop a game plan to hit it

when people engage in realistic thinking

they also begin to simplify practices

and procedures

which results in better efficiency


in business only a few decisions are


realistic thinkers understand the

difference between the important


and those that are merely necessary in

the normal course of business

the decisions that matter relate

directly to your purpose

james allen was right when he wrote


thought is linked with purpose there is

no intelligent accomplishment

three realistic thinking is a catalyst

for change people who rely on hope for

their success

rarely make change a high priority

if you have only hope you imply that

achievement and success are out of your


it's a matter of luck or chance why

bother changing

realistic thinking can dispel that kind

of wrong attitude

there's nothing like staring reality in

the face to make a person recognize the

need for change

change alone doesn't bring growth but

you cannot have growth without change

four realistic thinking provides

security anytime you have thought

through the worst that can happen

and you have developed contingency plans

to meet it you become more confident and


it's reassuring to know that you are

unlikely to be surprised

disappointment is the difference between

expectations and reality

realistic thinking minimizes the

difference between the two

five realistic thinking gives you


realistic thinking helps people to buy

into the leader

and his or her vision leaders

continually surprised by the unexpected

soon lose credibility with their


on the other hand leaders who think


and plan accordingly position their

organizations to win

that gives their people confidence in

them the best leaders ask realistic

questions before casting vision

they ask themselves things like is it


does this dream include everyone or just

a few

have i identified and articulated the

areas that will make this dream

difficult to achieve

six realistic thinking provides a

foundation to build on

thomas edison observed the value of a

good idea

is in using it the bottom line on

realistic thinking is that it helps you

to make an idea usable

by taking away the wish factor most

ideas and efforts don't accomplish their

intended results

because they rely too much on what we

wish rather than what is

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

realistic thinking provides that solid


seven realistic thinking is a friend to

those in trouble

if creativity is what you would do if

you were unafraid of the possibility of


then reality is dealing with failure if

it does happen

realistic thinking gives you something

concrete to fall back on during times of


which can be very reassuring certainty

in the midst of uncertainty brings


eight realistic thinking brings the

dream to fruition

british novelist john gallsworthy wrote

idealism increases in direct proportion

to one's distance from the problem

if you don't get close enough to a

problem you can't tackle it

if you don't take a realistic look at

your dream and what it will take to

accomplish it

you will never achieve it realistic

thinking helps to pave the way for

bringing any dream to fruition

how to recognize the importance of

realistic thinking

because i'm naturally optimistic rather

than realistic

i've had to take concrete steps to

improve my thinking in this area

here are five things i do to improve my

realistic thinking

one develop an appreciation for truth

i could not develop as a realistic

thinker until i gained an appreciation

for realistic thinking

and that means learning to look at and

enjoy truth

president harry s truman said i never

give him hell

i just tell the truth and they think it

is hell

that's the way many people react to


people tend to exaggerate their success

and minimize their failures or


they live according to rucker's law

believing there is nothing so small that

it can't be blown out of proportion

unfortunately many people today could be

described by a quote from winston


men occasionally stumble over the truth

but most pick themselves up

and hurry off as if nothing has happened

more recently television journalist ted

koppel observed

our society finds truth too strong a

medicine to digest

undiluted in its purest form

truth is not a polite tap on the

shoulder it is a howling reproach

in other words the truth will set you


but first it will make you angry

if you want to become a realistic

thinker however you need to get

comfortable dealing with the truth and

face up to it

two do your homework

the process of realistic thinking begins

with doing your homework

you must first get the facts

former governor congressman and

ambassador chester bowles said

when you approach a problem strip

yourself of preconceived opinions and


assemble and learn the facts of the


make the decision which seems to you to

be the most honest

and then stick to it it doesn't matter

how sound your thinking is if it's based

on faulty data or assumptions

you can't think well in the absence of

facts or in the presence of poor


you can also find out what others have

done in similar circumstances

remember your thinking doesn't

necessarily have to be original

it just has to be solid why not

learn all you can from good thinkers who

have faced similar situations in the


some of my best thinking has been done

by others

three think through the pros and cons

there's nothing like taking the time to

really examine the pros and cons of an


to give you a strong dose of reality

it rarely comes down to simply choosing

the course of action with the greatest

number of pros

because all pros and cons do not carry

equal weight

but that's not the value of the exercise


rather it helps you to dig into the


examine an issue from many angles and

really count the cost of a possible

course of action

four picture the worst case scenario

the essence of realistic thinking is


picturing and examining the worst case


ask yourself questions such as

what if sales fall short of projections

what if revenue hits rock bottom not an

optimist's rock bottom

but real rock bottom what if we don't

win the account

what if the client doesn't pay us what

if we have to do the job shorthanded

what if our best player gets sick what

if all the colleges reject my


what if the market goes belly up what if

the volunteers quit

what if nobody shows up you get the idea

the point is that you need to think

about worst case possibilities

whether you're running a business

leading a department

pastoring a church coaching a team or

planning your personal finances

your goal isn't to be negative or to

expect the worst

just to be ready for it in case it


that way you give yourself the best

chance for a positive result

no matter what if you picture the worst

case and

examine it honestly then you really have

experienced a reality check

you're ready for anything as you do that

take the advice of charles whole who


deliberate with caution but act with


and yield with graciousness or oppose

with firmness

five align your thinking with your


one of the keys to maximizing realistic

thinking is

aligning your resources with your


looking at pros and cons and examining

worst-case scenarios

will make you aware of any gaps between

what you desire

and what really is once you know what

those gaps are

you can use your resources to fill them

after all

that's what resources are for

super bowl superdome super security

our country received lessons in

realistic thinking following the tragedy


september 11 2001

the destruction of the world trade

center buildings in new york city

far surpassed any worst case scenarios

that anyone might have envisioned

in the wake of that event we now find

that we don't have the luxury of

avoiding or neglecting realistic


i was reminded of that on sunday

february 3rd

2002 when i attended the super bowl in

new orleans louisiana

i had been to the big game twice before

to root for the home team

first san diego and later atlanta and

had seen both teams lose

but i had never been to a game like this

the occasion had been designated a

national security special event

that meant that the us secret service

would be overseeing it

military personnel would work with local

law enforcement

and security would be of the highest


the secret service brought in several

hundred agents that secured the area

in preparation for the game access to

the superdome was highly restricted

with intensified screening

officials blocked off roads closed the

nearby interstate

and designated the area a no-fly zone

we arrived early at the dome officials

suggested fans arrive up to five hours

ahead of game time

and we immediately saw evidence of the

precautionary measures

eight-foot fences surrounded the whole

area and concrete barriers prevented

unauthorized vehicles from getting close

to the building

we could see sharpshooters positioned at

various locations

including on the roof of some adjacent


when we reached a gate police officers

and security personnel patted us down

and examined everyone's belongings after


they directed us to go through metal


only then did they allow us into the


that's all well and good you may be

saying but what would have happened had

there been a terrorist attack

the secret service had that covered too

because they had prepared for the worst

case scenario

evacuation plans had been put into place

and personnel at the superdome

had been drilled to make sure everyone

knew what to do in case of an emergency

new orleans mayor mark morial said the

day before the super bowl

we want to send a message to all

visitors that new orleans is going to be

the safest place in america

we got the message we didn't feel the

least bit worried

that's what happens when leaders

recognize the importance of realistic


thinking question am i building a solid

mental foundation on facts

so that i can think with certainty

chapter five utilize strategic

thinking most people spend more time

planning their summer vacation

than planning their lives source

unknown when you hear the words

strategic thinking what comes to mind

do visions of business plans dance in

your head do you conjure up marketing


the kind that can turn a company around

perhaps you contemplate global politics

or you recall some of history's greatest

military campaigns

hannibal crossing the alps to surprise

the roman army

charlemagne's conquest of western europe

or the allies d-day invasion of normandy

perhaps but strategy doesn't have to be

restricted to military action

or even to business strategic thinking

can make a positive impact on any area

of life

plan your life live your plan

i've observed that most people try to

plan their lives one day at a time

they wake up make up their to-do list

and dive into action

although some people aren't even that


fewer individuals plan their lives one

week at a time

they review their calendar for the week

check their appointments

review their goals and then get to work

they generally out achieve most of their

daily planning colleagues

i try to take planning one step further

at the beginning of every month i spend

half a day working on my calendar for

the next 40 days

40 days works for me rather than just


that way i get a jump on the next month

and don't get surprised

i begin by reviewing my travel schedule

and planning activities with my family

then i review what projects lessons and

other objectives i want to accomplish

during those

five to six weeks then i start blocking

out days and times for thinking

writing working meeting with people


i set times to do fun things such as

seeing a show

watching a ball game or playing golf

i also set aside small blocks of time to

compensate for the unexpected

by the time i'm done i can tell you

nearly everything i'll be doing

almost hour by hour during the coming


this strategy is one of the reasons i

have been able to accomplish

much why you should release the power of

strategic thinking

strategic thinking helps me to plan to

become more efficient

to maximize my strengths and to find the

most direct path toward achieving

any objective the benefits of strategic

thinking are numerous

here are a few of the reasons you should

adopt it as one of your thinking tools

one strategic thinking

simplifies the difficult

strategic thinking is really nothing

more than planning on steroids

spanish novelist miguel de cervantes


the man who is prepared has his battle

have fought

strategic thinking takes complex issues

and long-term objectives

which can be very difficult to address

and breaks them down into manageable


anything becomes simpler when it has a


strategic thinking can also help you

simplify the management of everyday life

i do that by using systems which are

nothing more than good strategies


i am well known among pastors and other


for my filing system writing a lesson or

speech can be difficult

but because i use my system to file

quotes stories and articles

when i need something to flesh out or

illustrate a point

i simply go to one of my twelve hundred

files and find a good piece of material

that works

just about any difficult task can be

made simpler with strategic thinking

two strategic thinking prompts you to

ask the right questions

do you want to break down complex or

difficult issues

then ask questions strategic thinking

forces you through this process

take a look at the following questions

developed by my friend

bob beal the author of master planning

direction what should we do next

why organization

who is responsible for what who is

responsible for whom

do we have the right people in the right


cash what is our projected

income expense net

can we afford it how can we afford it

tracking are we on target

overall evaluation are we achieving the

quality we expect and demand of


refinement how can we be more effective

and more efficient move toward the ideal

these may not be the only questions you

need to ask to begin formulating a

strategic plan

but they are certainly a good start

three strategic thinking prompts

customization general george s patton


successful generals make plans to fit


but do not try to create circumstances

to fit plans

all good strategic thinkers are precise

in their thinking

they try to match the strategy to the

problem because strategy

isn't a one-size-fits-all proposition

sloppy or generalized thinking is an

enemy of achievement the intention to

customize in strategic thinking

forces a person to go beyond vague ideas

and engage in specific ways to go after

a task or problem

it sharpens the mind

strategic thinking prepares you today

for an uncertain tomorrow

strategic thinking is the bridge that

links where you are

to where you want to be it gives

direction and credibility today

and increases your potential for success


it is as mary webb suggests like

saddling your dreams before you ride


five strategic thinking reduces the

margin of error

anytime 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


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


helps you to put the ball closer to the


the better aligned you are with your

target the better the odds that you will

be going in the right direction

six strategic thinking gives you

influence with others

one executive confided in another

our company has a short range plan and a

long range plan

our short range plan is to stay afloat

long enough to make it to our long range


that's hardly a strategy yet that's the

position where some business leaders put


there's more than one problem with

neglecting strategic thinking in that


not only does it fail to build the

business but it also loses the respect

of everyone

involved with the business the one with

the plan

is the one with the power it doesn't

matter in what kind of activity you're


employees want to follow the business

leader with a good business plan

volunteers want to join the pastor with

a good ministry plan

children want to be with the adult who

has the well thought out vacation plan

if you practice strategic thinking

others will listen to you

and they will want to follow you if you

possess a position of leadership in an


strategic thinking is essential

how to release the power of strategic


to become a better strategic thinker

able to formulate and implement plans

that will achieve the desired objective

take the following guidelines to heart

one break down the issue

the first step in strategic thinking is

to break down an issue into smaller

more manageable parts so that you can

focus on them more effectively

how you do it is not as important as

just doing it

you might break an issue down by


that's what automotive innovator henry

ford did when he created the assembly


and that's why he said nothing is

particularly hard

if you divide it into small jobs

how you break down an issue is up to you

whether it's by function

timetable responsibility purpose

or some other method the point is that

you need to break it down

only one person in a million can juggle

the whole thing in his head

and think strategically to create solid

viable plans

two ask why before

how 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


why if you jump right into problem

solving mode

how are you going to know all the issues

eugene g grace says thousands of

engineers can design bridges

calculate strains and stresses and draw

up specifications for machines

but the great engineer is the man who

can tell whether the bridge or the

machine should be built at all

where it should be built and when

asking why helps you to think about all

the reasons for decisions

it helps you to open your mind to

possibilities and opportunities

the size of an opportunity often

determines the level of resources and

effort that you must invest

big opportunities allow for big


if you jump to how too quickly you might


that three

identify the real issues and objectives

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

to avoid that ask probing questions to

expose the real issues

challenge all of your assumptions

collect information

even after you think you've identified

the issue

you may still have to act with

incomplete data but you

don't want to jump to a conclusion

before you gather enough information to


identifying the real issue begin by


what else could be the real issue you

should also remove

any personal agenda more than almost

anything else

that can cloud your judgment discovering

your real situation

and objectives is a major part of the


once the real issues are identified the

solutions are often simple

four review your resources

i already mentioned how important it is

to be aware of your resources

but it bears repeating a strategy that

doesn't take into account resources

is doomed to failure take an inventory

how much time do you have how much money

what kinds of materials supplies or

inventory do you have

what are your other assets what

liabilities or obligations will come

into play

which people on the team can make an


you know your own organization and


figure out what resources you have at

your disposal

five develop your plan

how you approach the planning process

depends greatly on your profession

and the size of the challenge that

you're planning to tackle

so it's difficult to recommend many


however no matter how you go about


take this advice start with the obvious

when you tackle an issue or plan that

way it brings unity and consensus to the


because everyone sees those things

obvious elements build mental momentum

and initiate creativity and intensity

the best way to create a road to the


is to build on the fundamentals

six put the right people in the right


it's critical that you include your team

as part of your strategic thinking

before you can implement your plan you

must make sure that you have the right

people in place

even the best strategic thinking won't

help if you don't take into account the

people part of the equation

look what happens if you miscalculate

wrong person problems instead of


wrong place frustration instead of


wrong plan grief instead of growth

everything comes together however when

you put together all three elements

the right person the right place and the

right plan

seven keep repeating the process

my friend olin hendrix remarked

strategic thinking is like showering

you have to keep doing it if you expect

to solve

any major problem once you're in for


little things such as filing or shopping


can be won easily through systems and

personal discipline

but major issues need major strategic

thinking time

what thane yost said is really true

the will to win is worthless if you do

not have the will to prepare

if you want to be an effective strategic


then you need to become a continuous

strategic thinker

as i was working on this chapter i came

across an article in my local paper on

the celebration of the jewish passover

and how millions of american jews read

the order of service for their seder

or passover meal from a small booklet

produced by

maxwell house coffee for more than

70 years the coffee company has produced

the booklet

called a haggadah and during those years

it has distributed more than 40 million

copies of it

i remember using them all my life said

regina witt

who is in her 50s so does her mother

who is almost 90. it's our tradition

i think it would be very strange not to

use them

so how did maxwell house come to supply

the booklets

it was the result of strategic thinking

eighty years ago marketing man joseph


advised that the company could sell

coffee during passover

if the product were certified kosher by

a rabbi

since 1923 maxwell house coffee has been

certified kosher for passover

and then jacob suggested that if they

gave away the haggadah booklets

they could increase sales they've been

creating the booklets

and selling coffee during passover ever


that's what can happen when you unleash

the power of strategic thinking

thinking question am i implementing

strategic plans that give me direction

for today

and increase my potential for tomorrow

chapter six explore

possibility thinking

nothing is so embarrassing as watching

someone do something

that you said could not be done sam


people who embrace possibility thinking

are capable of accomplishing tasks that


impossible because they believe in


here are several reasons why you should

become a possibility thinker

one possibility thinking

increases your possibilities

when you believe you can do something

difficult and you succeed

many doors open for you when george

lucas succeeded in making star wars

despite those who said the special

effects he wanted hadn't ever been done

and couldn't be done many other

possibilities opened up to him

industrial light and magic the company

he created to produce those

impossible special effects became a

source of revenue to help

underwrite his other projects he was

able to produce

merchandising tie-ins to his movies thus

bringing in another revenue stream to

fund his movie making

but his confidence in doing the

difficult has also made a huge

impact on other movie makers and a whole

new generation of moviegoers

popular culture writer chris sailowicz


at first directly through his own work

and then via the unparalleled influence

of ilm

industrial light and magic george lucas

has dictated for two decades

the essential broad notion of what is


if you open yourself up to possibility


you open yourself up to many other


two possibility thinking draws

opportunities and people to

you the case of george lucas helps you

to see how being a possibility thinker

can create new opportunities and attract


people who think big attract big people

to them

if you want to achieve big things you

need to become a possibility thinker

three possibility thinking increases

others possibilities big thinkers who

make things happen

also create possibilities for others

that happens in part because it's


you can't help but become more confident

and think bigger

when you're around possibility thinkers

four possibility thinking

allows you to dream big dreams

no matter what your profession

possibility thinking can help you to

broaden your horizons

and dream bigger dreams professor david


schwartz believes big thinkers

are specialists in creating positive


optimistic pictures in their own minds

and in the minds of others

if you embrace possibility thinking your

dreams will go from mole hill

to mountain size and because you believe

in possibilities

you put yourself in position to achieve


five possibility thinking makes it


to rise above average

during the 1970s when oil prices went

through the roof

automobile makers were ordered to make

their cars more fuel efficient

one manufacturer asked a group of senior

engineers to drastically reduce the

weight of cars they were designing

they worked on the problem and searched

for solutions

but they finally concluded that making

lighter cars couldn't be done

would be too expensive and would present

too many safety concerns

they couldn't get out of the rut of

their average thinking

what was the automaker's solution they

gave the problem to a group of less

experienced engineers the new group

found ways to reduce the weight of the

company's automobiles by hundreds of


because they thought that solving the

problem was possible

it was every time you remove the label


impossible from a task you raise your

potential from

average to off the charts

six possibility thinking gives you

energy a direct correlation exists

between possibility thinking

and the level of a person's energy

who gets energized by the prospect of


if you know something can't succeed how

much time and energy are you willing to

give it

nobody goes looking for a lost cause you

invest yourself in what you believe

can succeed when you embrace possibility


you believe in what you're doing and

that gives you energy

seven possibility thinking keeps you

from giving up

above all possibility thinkers believe

they can succeed

dennis waitley author of the psychology

of winning

says the winners in life

think constantly in terms of i can i


and i am losers on the other hand

concentrate their waking thoughts on

what they should have done

or what they don't do if you believe you

can't do something

then it doesn't matter how hard you try

because you've already lost

if you believe you can do something you

have already won

much of the battle one of the people who

showed himself to be a great possibility

thinker in 2001

was new york mayor rudy giuliani

in the hours following the world trade

center tragedy

giuliani not only led the city through

the chaos of the disaster

but he instilled confidence in everyone

he touched

afterward he gave some insight and

perspective on his experience

i was so proud of the people i saw on

the street

no chaos but they were frightened and


and it seemed to me that they needed to

hear from my heart where i thought we

were going

i was trying to think where can i go for

some comparison to this

some lessons about how to handle it

so i started thinking about churchill

started thinking that we're going to

have to rebuild the spirit of the city

and what better example than churchill

and the people of london during the

blitz in nineteen forty

who had to keep up their spirit during

this sustained bombing

it was a comforting thought

sixteen hours after the plane struck the

buildings in new york city

when giuliani finally returned at 2 30

a.m to his apartment for a rest

instead of sleeping he read the world

war two chapters of

churchill a biography by roy jenkins

learned how winston churchill helped his

people to see the possibilities

and kept his people going inspired

giuliani did the same for his own people

six decades later

how to feel the energy of possibility


if you are a naturally positive person

who already embraces possibility


then you're already tracking with me


some people rather than being optimistic

are naturally negative or cynical

they believe that possibility thinkers

are naive or foolish

if your thinking runs toward pessimism

let me ask you a question

how many highly successful people do you

know who are continually negative

how many impossibility thinkers are you

acquainted with who achieve

big things none

people with an it can't be done mindset

have two choices they can expect the


and continually experience it or they

can change their thinking

that's what george lucas did believe it

or not

even though he is a possibility thinker

he is not a naturally positive person

he says i'm very cynical and as a result

i think the defense i have against it is

to be optimistic

in other words he chooses to think


he sums it up this way as corny as it


the power of positive thinking goes a

long way

so determination and positive thinking

combined with talent

combined with knowing your craft that

may sound like a naive point of view

but at the same time it's worked for me

and it's worked for all my friends

so i have come to believe it if you want

possibility thinking to work for you

then begin by following these


one stop focusing on the impossibilities

the first step in becoming a possibility


is to stop yourself from searching for

and dwelling on what's wrong with any

given situation

sports psychologist bob rotella recounts

i tell people if you don't want to get

into positive thinking

that's okay just eliminate all the

negative thoughts from your mind

and whatever's left will be fine

if possibility thinking is new to you

you're going to have to give yourself a

lot of coaching to eliminate

some of the negative self talk you may

hear in your head

when you automatically start listing all

the things that can go wrong

or all the reasons something can't be

done stop yourself and say

don't go there then ask

what's right about this that will help

to get you started

and if negativity is a really big

problem for you

and pessimistic things come out of your

mouth before you've even thought them


you may need to enlist the aid of a

friend or family member to alert you

every time you utter negative ideas

two stay away from the

experts so-called

experts do more to shoot down people's

dreams than just about anybody else

possibility thinkers are very reluctant

to dismiss anything as impossible

rocket pioneer werner von braun said

i have learned to use the word

impossible with the greatest of caution

and napoleon bonaparte declared the word


is not in my dictionary if you feel you

must take the advice of an expert


then heed the words of john andrew

holmes who asserted

never tell a young person that something

cannot be done

god may have been waiting centuries for

somebody ignorant enough of the


to do that thing if you want to achieve


give yourself permission to believe it

is possible

no matter what experts might say

three look for possibilities in

every situation becoming a possibility


is more than just refusing to let

yourself be negative

it's something more it's looking for

positive possibilities despite the


i recently heard don soderquist former

president of walmart

tell a wonderful story that illustrates

how a person can find

positive possibilities in any situation

soderquist had gone with sam walton to

huntsville alabama

to open several new stores while there

walton suggested they visit the


here's what soderquist said happened

we went into one store and i have to

tell you that it was the worst

store i have ever seen in my life it was


there were no customers there was no

help on the floor

the aisles were cluttered with

merchandise empty shelves

dirty it was absolutely terrible

he walton walked one way

and i'd walked the other way and we'd

kind of meet out on the sidewalk

he said what'd you think don

i said sam that is the absolutely worst

store i've ever seen in my life

i mean did you see the aisles

he said don did you see the pantyhose


i said no i didn't sam

i must have gone on a different aisle

than you i didn't see that

he said that was the best pantyhose rack

i've ever seen don and he said

i pulled the fixture out and on the back

was the name of the manufacturer

when we get back i want you to call that


and have him come in and visit with our

fixture people

i want to put that rack in our stores


absolutely the best i've ever seen

and he said next did you see the ethnic

cosmetics i said

sam that must have been right next to

the patios rack

because i absolutely missed that

he said don do you realize that in our

stores we have

four feet of ethnic cosmetics these

people had 12 feet of

it we are absolutely missing the boat

i wrote down the distributor of some of

those products

when we get back i want you to get a

hold of our cosmetic buyer

and get these people in we absolutely

need to expand our ethnic cosmetics

now sam walton didn't hit me on the head

and say

don now what lesson did you learn from


he had already hit me on the head by

looking for the good

looking how to improve striving for


it's so easy to go and look at what

other people do badly

but one of the leadership

characteristics of vision that he showed


and i'll never forget it is look for the

good in what other people are doing

and apply it it doesn't take a genius iq

or 20 years of experience to find the

possibility in every situation

all it takes is the right attitude and

anybody can cultivate that

four dream one size bigger

one of the best ways to cultivate a

possibility mindset

is to prompt yourself to dream one size

bigger than you normally do

let's face it most people dream too


they don't think big enough henry curtis


make your plans as fantastic as you like

because 25 years from now they will see


make your plans ten times as great as

you first planned

and 25 years from now you will wonder

why you did not make them

fifty times as great if you push

yourself to dream more expansively

to imagine your organization one size


to make your goals at least a step

beyond what makes you comfortable

you will be forced to grow and it will

set you up to believe in greater


five question the status quo

most people want their lives to keep


yet they value peace and stability at

the same time

people often forget that you can't

improve and still stay the same

growth means change

change requires challenging the status


if you want greater possibilities you

can't settle for what you have now

when you become a possibility thinker

you will face many people

who will want you to give up your dreams

and embrace the status quo

achievers refuse to accept the status


as you begin to explore greater

possibilities for yourself

your organization or your family and

others challenge you for it

take comfort in knowing that right now

as you read this

other possibility thinkers across the

country and around the world

are thinking about curing cancer

developing new energy sources

feeding hungry people and improving

quality of life

they are challenging the status quo

against the odds

and you should too

six find inspiration from great


you can learn a lot about possibility

thinking by studying great achievers

i mentioned george lucas in this chapter

perhaps he doesn't appeal to you or you

don't like the movie industry

personally i'm not a big science fiction


but i admire lucas as a thinker creative


and business person find some achievers

you admire

and study them look for people with the

attitude of robert f

kennedy who popularized george bernard

shaw's stirring statement

some men see things as they are and say


i dream of things that never were and


why not i know possibility thinking

isn't in style with many people so call

it what you like

the will to succeed belief in yourself

confidence in your ability faith

it's really true people who believe that

they can't

don't but if you believe you can

you can that's the power of possibility


thinking question am i unleashing the

enthusiasm of possibility thinking

to find solutions for even seemingly

impossible situations

chapter seven

learn from reflective thinking

to doubt everything or to believe


are two equally convenient solutions

both dispense with the necessity of


jewel henri puankare

the pace of our society does not

encourage reflective thinking

most people would rather act than think

now don't get me wrong i'm a person of


i have very high energy and i like to

see things accomplished

but i'm also a reflective thinker

reflective thinking is like the crock

pot of the mind

it encourages your thoughts to simmer

until they're done

as i go through this process my goal is

to reflect

so that i might learn from my successes

and mistakes

discover what i should try to repeat and

determine what i should change

it is always a valuable exercise

by mentally visiting past situations you

can think with greater understanding

one reflective thinking gives you true

perspective when our

children were young and still lived at

home we used to take them on wonderful

vacations every year

when we got home they always knew that i

was going to ask them two questions

what did you like best and what did you


it didn't matter whether we went to walt

disney world or washington dc

i always asked those questions

why because i wanted them to reflect on

their experiences

children don't naturally grasp the value

or cost of an experience unless prompted

they take things for granted i wanted my

children to appreciate our trips and to

learn from them

when you reflect you are able to put an

experience into perspective

you are able to evaluate its timing and

you are able to gain a new appreciation

for things that before

went unnoticed most people are able to


the sacrifices of their parents or other

people only when they become parents


that's the kind of perspective that

comes with reflection

two reflective thinking gives emotional

integrity to your thought life

few people have good perspective in the

heat of an emotional moment

most individuals who enjoy the thrill of

an experience

try to go back and recapture it without

first trying to evaluate it

it's one of the reasons our culture

produces so many thrill seekers

likewise those who survive a traumatic


usually avoid similar situations at all


which sometimes ties them into emotional


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

president george washington observed

we ought not to look back unless it is

to derive useful lessons from past

errors and for the purpose of profiting

by dearly bought experience

any feeling that can stand up to the

light of truth

and can be sustained over time has

emotional integrity

and is therefore worthy of your mind and


three reflective thinking increases your


in decision making have you ever made a


judgment and later wondered if you did

the right thing

everybody has reflective thinking

can help to diffuse that doubt

it also gives you confidence for the

next decision

once you've reflected on an issue you

don't have to repeat every step of the

thinking process when you're faced with

it again

you've got mental road markers from

having been there before

that compresses and speeds up thinking


and it gives you confidence and over


it can also strengthen your intuition

four reflective thinking clarifies the

big picture

when you engage in reflective thinking

you can put ideas and experiences

into a more accurate context

reflective thinking encourages us to go

back and spend time

pondering what we have done and what we

have seen

if a person who loses his job reflects

on what happened

he may see a pattern of events that led

to his dismissal

he will better understand what happened

why it happened

and what things were his responsibility

if he also looks at the incidents that

occurred afterward

he may realize that in a larger scheme

of things he's better off in his new


because it better fits his skills and


without reflection it can be very

difficult to see that big picture

five reflective thinking

takes a good experience and makes it a


experience when you were just

starting out in your career did it seem

that few people were willing to give

someone without experience an


at the same time could you see people

who had been on their jobs twenty years

who yet did their work poorly if so

that probably frustrated you playwright

william shakespeare wrote

experience is a jewel and it had need be


for it is often purchased at an infinite


yet experience alone does not add value

to a life

it's not necessarily experience that is


it's the insight people gain because of

their experience

reflective thinking turns experience

into insight

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


an experience becomes valuable when it

informs or equips us to meet new


reflective thinking helps to do that

how to embrace the lessons of reflective


if you are like most people in our

culture today

you probably do very little reflective


if that's the case it may be holding you

back more than you think

take to heart the following suggestions

to increase your ability to think


one set aside time for

reflection greek philosopher socrates


the unexamined life is not worth living

for most people however reflection and

self-examination doesn't come naturally

it can be a fairly uncomfortable

activity for a variety of reasons

they have a hard time staying focused

they find the process

dull or they don't like spending a lot

of time

thinking about emotionally difficult


but if you don't carve out the time for

it you are unlikely to do

any reflective thinking

to remove yourself from distractions

as much as any other kind of thinking

reflection requires solitude distraction

and reflection simply don't mix

it's not the kind of thing you can do

well near a television

in a cubicle while the phone is ringing

or with children in the same room

one of the reasons i've been able to

accomplish much

and keep growing personally is that i've

not only set aside time to reflect

but i've separated myself from

distractions for short blocks of time

30 minutes in the spa an hour outside on

a rock in my backyard

or a few hours in a comfortable chair in

my office

the place doesn't matter as long as you

remove yourself from distractions and


three regularly review your calendar

or journal most people use their

calendar as a planning tool

which it is but few people use it as a

reflective thinking tool

what could be better however for helping

you to review where you have been

and what you have done except maybe a


i'm not a journaler in the regular sense

i don't use writing to figure out what

i'm thinking and feeling

instead i figure out what i'm thinking

and feeling

and then i write down significant

thoughts into action points

i file the thoughts so that i can

quickly put my hands on them again

i immediately execute the action points

or delegate them to someone else

calendars and journals remind you of how

you've spent your time

show you whether your activities match

your priorities

and help you see whether you are making


they also offer you an opportunity to

recall activities that you might not

have had the time to reflect on


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

four ask the right questions

the value you receive from reflecting

will depend on the kinds of questions

you ask yourself the better the


the more gold you will mine from your


when i reflect i think in terms of my


relationships and experiences

here are some sample questions

personal growth what have i learned


that will help me grow how can i apply

it to my life

when should i apply it adding value

to whom did i add value today

how do i know i added value to that


can i follow up and compound the

positive benefit he or she received

leadership did i lead by example today

did i lift my people and organization to

a higher level

what did i do and how did i do it

personal faith did i represent god well


did i practice the golden rule

have i walked the second mile with


marriage and family did i communicate

love to my family today

how did i show that love did they feel


did they return it inner circle

have i spent enough time with my key


what can i do to help them be more


in what areas can i mentor them

discoveries what did i encounter today

to which i need to give more thinking


are there lessons to be learned are

there things to be done

how you organize your reflection time is

up to you

you may want to adapt my pattern to your

own values

or you can try a system that my friend

dick biggs uses

he creates three columns on a sheet of


year turning point impact

this system is good for reflecting on

the bigger picture

dick used it to see patterns in his life

such as when he moved to atlanta and was

encouraged by a new teacher to write

you could just as easily write event

significance and action point on a page

to help you benefit from reflective


the main thing is to create questions

that work for you

and write down any significant thoughts

that come to you during the reflection


five cement your learning through action

writing down the good thoughts that come

out of your reflective thinking has

value but nothing helps you to grow like

putting your thoughts into action

to do that you must be intentional

when you read a good book for example

there are always good thoughts quotes

or lessons that you can take away from

it and use yourself

i always mark the takeaways in a book

and then reread them when i'm done with

the book

when i listen to a message i record the


so that i can file them for future use

when i go to a seminar i take good notes

and i use a system of symbols to cue me

to do certain things

an arrow pointing to the right means to

look at this material again

an asterisk next to the marked section

means to file it according to the

subject noted

an open bracket means that i want to use

what's marked

in a lecture or book an arrow pointing


means this idea will take off if i work

at it

when most people go to a conference or


they enjoy the experience listen to the


and sometimes even take notes but

nothing happens after they go home

they like many of the concepts they hear

but when they close their notebooks

they don't think about them again when

that happens

they receive little more than a

temporary surge of motivation

when you go to a conference revisit what

you heard

reflect on it and then put it into


it can change your life

ultimately reflective thinking has three

main values

it gives me perspective within context

it allows me to continually connect with

my journey

and it provides counsel and direction

concerning my future

it is an invaluable tool to my personal


few things in life can help me learn and

improve the way reflective thinking can

thinking question am i regularly

revisiting the past

to gain a true perspective and think

with understanding

chapter eight question popular thinking

i'm not an answering machine i'm a

questioning machine

if we have all the answers how come

we're in such a mess

cardinal economist

john maynard keynes whose ideas


influenced economic theory and practices

in the 20th century asserted

the difficulty lies not so much in

developing new ideas

as in escaping from the old ones

going against popular thinking can be


whether you're a business person bugging

company tradition

a pastor introducing new types of music

to his church

a new mother rejecting old wives tales

handed down from her parents

or a teenager ignoring currently popular


many of the ideas in this book go

against popular thinking

if you value popularity over good


then you will severely limit your

potential to learn the types of thinking

encouraged by this book

popular thinking is too average to

understand the value of good thinking

too inflexible to realize the impact of

changed thinking

too lazy to master the process of

intentional thinking

too small to see the wisdom of big

picture thinking

too satisfied to unleash the potential

of focused thinking

too traditional to discover the joy of

creative thinking

too naive to recognize the importance of

realistic thinking

too undisciplined to release the power

of strategic thinking

too limiting to feel the energy of

possibility thinking

too trendy to embrace the lessons of

reflective thinking

too shallow to question the acceptance

of popular thinking

too proud to encourage the participation


shared thinking too self-absorbed to

experience the satisfaction

of unselfish thinking and

too uncommitted to enjoy the return

of bottom line thinking

if you want to become a good thinker

then start preparing yourself for the

possibility of becoming

unpopular why you should question the

acceptance of popular thinking

i've given you some broad reasons for

questioning the acceptance of popular


now allow me to be more specific

one popular thinking sometimes means

not thinking my friend kevin myers sums

up the idea of popular thinking by


the problem with popular thinking is

that it doesn't require you to think at


good thinking is hard work if it were


everybody would be a good thinker


many people try to live life the easy


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 that they thought it out

look at the stock market recommendations

of some experts

by the time they publish their picks

most are following

a trend not creating one or even writing

its crest

the people who are going to make money

on the stocks they recommend

have already done so by the time the

general public hears about it

when people blindly follow a trend

they're not doing their own thinking

2. popular thinking offers false hope

benno muller-hill a professor in the

university of cologne genetics


tells how one morning in high school he

stood last in a line of 40 students

in the school yard his physics teacher

had set up a telescope

so that his students could view a planet

and its moons

the first student stepped up to the


he looked through it but when the

teacher asked if he could see anything

the boy said no his near-sightedness

hampered his view

the teacher showed him how to adjust the

focus and the boy finally said he could

see the planet and

moons one by one the students stepped up

to the telescope

and saw what they were supposed to see


the second to last student looked into

the telescope and announced that he

could not see anything

you idiot shouted the teacher you have

to adjust the lenses

the student tried but he finally said

i still can't see anything it is all


the teacher disgusted looked through the

telescope himself

and then looked up with a strange


the lens cap still covered the telescope

none of the students had been able to

see anything

many people look for safety and security

in popular thinking

they figure that if a lot of people are

doing something then it must be right

it must be a good idea

if most people accept it then it

probably represents

fairness equality compassion and

sensitivity right

not necessarily popular thinking said

the earth was the center of the universe

yet copernicus studied the stars and

planets and proved mathematically

that the earth and the other planets in

our solar system revolved around the sun

popular thinking said surgery didn't

require clean instruments

yet joseph lister studied the high death

rates in hospitals

and introduced antiseptic practices that

immediately saved lives

popular thinking said that women

shouldn't have the right to vote

yet people like emmeline pankhurst and

susan b

anthony fought for and won that right

popular thinking put the nazis into

power in germany

yet hitler's regime murdered millions

and nearly destroyed europe

we must always remember there is a huge

difference between acceptance

and intelligence people may say that

there's safety in numbers

but that's not always true sometimes

it's painfully obvious that popular

thinking isn't good and right

other times it's less evident for

example consider the staggering number

of people in the united states who have

run up

large amounts of debt on their credit


anyone who is financially astute will

tell you that's a bad idea

yet millions follow right along with the

popular thinking of buy now

pay later and so they pay and

pay and pay many promises of popular

thinking ring hollow

don't let them fool you

three popular thinking is slow to


change popular thinking

loves the status quo it puts its

confidence in the idea of the moment

and holds on to it with all its might

as a result it resists change and

dampens innovation

donald m nelson former president of the

society of independent motion picture


criticized popular thinking when he


we must discard the idea that past


past ways of doing things are probably

the best ways

on the contrary we must assume that

there is probably a better way to do

almost everything we must stop

assuming that a thing which never has

been done before probably cannot be done

at all

4. popular thinking brings only

average results the bottom line

popular thinking brings mediocre results

here is popular thinking in a nutshell

popular equals normal

equals average it's the least of the


and the best of the least we limit

our success when we adopt popular


it represents putting in the least

energy to just get by

you must reject common thinking if you

want to accomplish

uncommon results

how to question the acceptance of

popular thinking

popular thinking has often proved to be

wrong and limiting

questioning it isn't necessarily hard

once you cultivate the habit of doing so

the difficulty is in getting started

begin by doing the following things

one think before you follow

many individuals follow others almost


sometimes they do so because they desire

to take the path of least resistance

other times they fear rejection or they

believe there's wisdom in doing what

everyone else does

but if you want to succeed you need to

think about what's best

not what's popular challenging popular


requires a willingness to be unpopular

and go outside of the norm

following the tragedy of september 11

2001 for example

few people willingly chose to travel by


but that was the best time to travel

crowds were down security was up and

airlines were cutting prices

about a month after the tragedy my wife

margaret and i heard that broadway shows

had lots of seats

and many new york hotel rooms remained


popular thinking said stay away from new


we used that as an opportunity

we got cheap plane tickets to the city

booked a room in a great hotel for about

half price

and got tickets to the most sought after

show the producers

as we took our seats in the theater we

sat next to a woman beside herself with


i can't believe i'm finally here she

said to us

i've waited so long this is the best

show on broadway

and the hardest to get tickets to then

she turned to look me in the eye and


i've had my tickets for a year and a

half waiting to see this show

how long ago did you get yours you won't

like my answer

i replied oh come on she said

how long i got mine five days ago

i answered she looked at us in horror

by the way she was right it's one of the

best shows we've seen in a while

and we got to see it only because we

were willing to go against popular


when everyone else was staying at home

as you begin to think against the grain

of popular thinking

remind yourself that unpopular thinking

even when resulting in success is

largely underrated

unrecognized and misunderstood

unpopular thinking contains the seeds of


and opportunity unpopular thinking

is required for all progress

the next time you feel ready to conform

to popular thinking on an issue

stop and think you may not want to

create change for its own sake

but you certainly don't want to blindly

follow just because you haven't thought

about what's best

to appreciate thinking different from

your own

one of the ways to embrace innovation

and change

is to learn to appreciate how others


to do that you must continually expose

yourself to people different from


my brother larry maxwell a good


and an innovative thinker continually

challenges popular thinking

by thinking differently he says

most of our people in sales and middle


come from businesses with products and

services different from ours

that constantly exposes us to new ways

of thinking

we also discourage our people from

active participation

in formal business and trade

associations and fraternities

because their thinking is quite common

they don't need to spend a lot of time

thinking the way everyone else in the

industry does

as you strive to challenge popular


spend time with people with different

backgrounds education levels

professional experiences personal


etc you will think like the people with

whom you spend the most time

if you spend time with people who think

out of the box

you're more likely to challenge popular

thinking and break new ground

three continually question your own


let's face it anytime we find a way of

thinking that works

one of our greatest temptations is to go

back to it repeatedly

even if it no longer works well the


enemy to tomorrow's success is sometimes

today's success

my friend andy stanley recently taught a

leadership lesson at

injoy's catalyst conference called

challenging the process

he described how progress must be

preceded by change

and he pointed out many of the dynamics

involved in questioning popular thinking

in an organization he said we should

remember that every tradition was

originally a good idea

and perhaps even revolutionary but

every tradition may not be a good idea

for the future

in your organization if you were

involved in putting into place what

currently exists

then it's likely that you will resist

change even

change for the better that's why it's

important to challenge your own thinking

if you're too attached to your own

thinking and how everything is done now

then nothing will change for the better

four try new things in new ways

when was the last time you did something

for the first time

do you avoid taking risks or trying new


one of the best ways to get out of the

rut of your own thinking

is to innovate you can do that in little

everyday ways drive to work a different

way from normal