How Successful People Think Summary, Quotes, And Review

MindsetPersonal DevelopmentPsychologySuccess

1-Line Summary: How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell is a definitive guide to building the thought process of successful people step-by-step.

YouTube player
How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life
This book teaches you how successful people think in their everyday lives and business. And how did they develop it in the first place?

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon

Get audiobook on Audible: Buy on Audible

Get the Hardcover version: Buy on Amazon

Get the Paperback version: View price on Amazon

Get the Audio CD: View price on Amazon

How Successful People Think Summary [PDF]

Ever wondered what amazing ideas lurk around in the minds of so-called “successful” people?

Well, in this book summary, you’ll get insights on how successful people think and plan for their future and achieve success.

So without further interruption, let’s dive right in.

Best Tools for Bibliophiles

Lesson #1: Your thinking won’t change automatically.

a man wondering why doesn't his idea change

Often people think that great ideas come with experience.

But do they?

Age has not much to do with your creative thoughts.

The quality of your thoughts won’t magically change with time.

Your thoughts are influenced by many factors like the people you spend your time with, the type of books you read, etc.

It’s easy to come up with average ideas.

That’s the reason why so many people’s heads are filled with them.

But great ideas require deliberateness.

They require a specific environment to flourish.

To change your thinking to its best, you need to learn how to become more creative.

You must learn how the minority of successful people think.

It’s wrong to think that random thoughts will make you successful.

What comes automatically is usually from your conditioning.

We are highly conditioned beings who crave instant gratification. So most of our thoughts only belong to those things that could provide us some gratification.

We never think about stronger possibilities.

We have a narrow vision and a limited set of thoughts.

We are so trapped in our bubble that we fail to see the higher purpose of our being.

That’s why you must read this summary till the end.

And learn how to broaden the scope of your thoughts and gear your thoughts towards success.

Lesson #2: Thinking is hard if you don’t know how to do it right.

The author talks about Elbert Einstein, who said:

Thinking is hard work; that’s why so few do it.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

But I think it’s the half-truth.

We think all the time.

There is never a moment in our lives where we aren’t thinking about something.

Either we are thinking about the future. Or we are reflecting on the past.

So why does Einstein say that thinking is hard work?

If you think about it, he is not talking about the thinking we usually do.

He is talking about high-level thinking.

The type of thinking that only a handful of visionary leaders do.

There is always some mysteriousness among the people when we talk about successful people.

We all wonder why they are unique.

The good news is:

It’s achievable. Yes, you can think the same way, provided you know “how to think” first.

If you practice the right thinking, you will improve gradually.

And with time, you will begin to understand complex concepts that an average person struggles with.

So again…

What makes successful people successful?

The answer:

Yes, it’s their thinking most of the time.

And actions follow thoughts.

It’s the mindset that separates successful people from average.

It’s hard initially.

But just like any skill, once you get used to it, even higher-level thinking becomes easy.

Lesson #3: Always try to think the bigger picture in your mind. (It’s not what you think)

a businessman thinking a bigger picture

When people read “Think Big,” they think that “Oh, If I’m getting $100 for doing a task, then I should aim for at least 10x, which is $1000.”

But thinking big doesn’t necessarily have to do with money.

It’s not all about money.

Of course, it’s good to expect more.

But if you always go with that mindset of attaining more, you will lose out on the bigger picture.

‘Thinking bigger picture’ means that you have to see the reality in the grand scheme of things.

It’s about having a perspective and seeing how the final picture will look.

If you have a specific goal, you must be clear about why you have decided to achieve that particular goal.

And why not something else other than that.

For instance, if you start an e-commerce business, you should know what the world will look like after your business is set.

Instead of ramping up the gratification all the time, you should focus on achieving clarity and seeing things holistically.

Get it now? It’s not what most people think.

Having a bigger picture means seeking wisdom and bringing clarity to your thinking.

There are lots of advantages of doing this…

For example, your efforts don’t go to waste.

Most people focus on the action without thinking about why they want to do a particular activity.

This causes them double defeat.

First, they waste their time.

Second, even if they succeed, they don’t feel satisfied.


Again… Because the intent behind the action was not clear.

Don’t make that mistake.

Think before you do anything.

And don’t just think… Also, try to see the bigger picture.

Lesson #4: Try to be creative in all areas of your life.

the creative process

You might be thinking secretly:

No thanks. I’m not a creative genius.

Wait… Wait…

You don’t need to be a creative genius, to begin with.

Anybody can become creative.

Creativity is the art of making connections, says the author.

When you make a combination of ideas that haven’t been made before, you have created an original idea.

Yes, it’s that simple.

But the essential requirement is that:

You will need the input of lots of ideas to generate unique combinations.

The best way is to surround yourself with creative people.

If you are in a company of people who don’t encourage thinking of new ideas, then forget about being creative.

The ideas won’t come.

The most extraordinary ideas don’t just appear out of nowhere.

You need to allow yourself to be among the greatest minds.

Well, it may not be possible to be among the greatest minds. Fortunately, you can read lots of books and get newer ideas.

Another thing you should understand is that:

Most people aren’t creative or don’t encourage it.

They fear uncertainty and love safety. That’s why they don’t explore impossible ideas.

So to become creative, you have to challenge average ideas and try to go beyond them.

Don’t be afraid or hold yourself back while thinking weird stuff.

You don’t need to align your thoughts with society’s opinions.

Let your mind run free.

Embrace creativity.

Over time, you will realize that this habit of creative thought will provide your actionable ideas to any challenges in life.

Lesson #5: Focus thinking gives you the power to achieve unimaginable goals.

a person focusing his attention

Another trait of successful people is:

They know how to focus.

The question is:

How to focus and why it’s so important?

First, let’s talk about why focus is essential.

Put simply: focus helps you build momentum in the direction of your goals.

People who lack focus find themselves lost.

Imagine you are a runner, but you are running randomly in different directions.

What would happen?

Yes, eventually, you will exhaust yourself.

We have a limited amount of energy.

That’s why it’s fundamentally impossible to achieve big goals without focus.

Bringing focus to your life is easy.

What you need is clarity.

Once you know what you want to achieve, you get clarity. After that, the only thing that’s left is to reduce distractions.

Everyone is distracted these days.

Honestly, it’s quite a challenge.

The author advises that you decide what things you can give up.

If you think deeper, it all boils down to what choices you make in your daily life.

To stay focused, you will need to give up on distractions.

So make a list of things that you can give if needed.

At the same time, you should have no doubts about what exactly you want to achieve.

Otherwise, you may find yourself in a weird or confusing situation.

Lesson #6: To think creatively, start embracing change or failures.

The creative process is not a one-time thing

It takes courage and patience.

Almost every long process requires you to be patient.

But when it comes to creativity, you also need some amount of courage — the courage to face failures.

Unlike other people, creative people are ready for failures.

It’s natural to face failures when you are trying new things.

Creativity is about finding new connections of ideas, isn’t it?

Often people get scared and stop hunting for new ideas.

But due to that, they become less creative.

We often think that creativity is some kind of magical process that happens out of nowhere.

But that’s a myth.

The more you experiment with new ideas, the better your creative muscle gets.

Lesson #7: Always do a reality check on your ideas so that you don’t get surprised once the reality punches you in the face.

There is a thin line between dreams and fantasy.

Having dreams is a great thing.

It gives us something to look forward to. Plus, it gives you energy.

But the problems start when dreams turn into fantasy.

If your dreams are not realistic, you may face problems.

Again, it’s pretty challenging to judge.

For example, sometimes things sound impossible.

Most people would say that “It can’t be achieved.”

But there is always a possibility.

So nobody knows everything.

We are not Gods.

Let me give you an example.

Let’s say you are thinking about a start-up.

You have big dreams.

If you think that you will create a successful start-up without having any business knowledge, then you have a fantasy.

That doesn’t happen.

That fantasy would never come true.

Now that same fantasy could be someone’s dream — the prerequisite is that you must be willing to learn about business, psychology, etc.


Nothing is absolute here.

Fantasies may turn true accidentally sometimes.

What the author recommends is:

You ask crucial questions to yourself.

By questioning your thoughts, you can judge if your dream is achievable with a plan or not.

You can also think about various possibilities and action plans to safeguard yourself from risks.

Dreaming without action doesn’t bring any results.

And those who do this only get hurt when reality punches them in the face.

Bottom line:

Stay truthful and closer to reality. Always.

Lesson #8: Build strategic plans to avoid silly errors and increase the probability of success.

strategic thinking

Strategic planning is not something that only entrepreneurs do.

Even an average person can do it to achieve simple goals.

To create a strategic plan, you need to write down what steps you will take to reach your goal.

All it takes is a bit of clarity.

It helps you stay on the right track.

There are various advantages of strategic planning.

The best benefit is that you can win people’s trust if you have a clear vision.

People don’t like to work with someone who doesn’t know about his goals.

It gives people confidence.

They start seeing you as a leader.

Another advantage is:

You don’t fear risks.

Strategic thinking also includes plans to mitigate risks.

If something unexpected happens, you stay ready for it and deal with it with the right actions.

In short:

Strategic thinking or planning increases the chances of your success.

Lesson #9: Think about the possibilities to achieve seemingly impossible tasks.

thinking possibilities to achieve a common goal

Dreams hardly come true.

That’s why people are afraid to dream.

Some dream. But don’t take action.

While others take action but don’t dream big enough.

You wouldn’t want to be any of them.

What successful people have in common is:

They think big dreams and take action to manifest them.

Manifestation techniques are bogus if you aren’t taking action to make your dream come true.

The author advises that you dream one step bigger.

For instance, if you dream of winning a trophy for something. Think about achieving two.

Just stretch your dream a little.

I’m not too fond of this idea, though, as it encourages you to become more greedy.

But yes, it would help you in achieving your goals.

If your dream is big enough, smaller challenges won’t bother you.

You will tend to overcome them easily.

Lesson #10: Avoid buying conventional wisdom or opinions without questioning.

Conventional wisdom sometimes limits your creativity.

There are lots of opinions in the world.

Everyone has them.

It’s a dilemma who to listen to.

It’s hard to find the right advice.

When it comes to advice, we often find ourselves believing experts.

Both author and I are not big fans of listening to the experts.

The problem is:

Once you gain enough knowledge in a specific field, you tend to play safe.

You tend to take the tried and tested path.

So when someone discusses unsafe perspectives, experts recommend playing it safe.

But as we discussed earlier, experimentation is the mother of creativity.

Experiment to find great ideas and opportunities.

They are hard to find.

It’s even harder to find them if you always play safe and avoid risks.

Don’t listen to experts too much if you have insanely huge dreams.

Have a little faith in yourself.

Of course, take help from others. There is no harm in taking advice.

Don’t let other people’s or experts’ opinions interfere with your dreams.

Not everyone has the same dreams, right?

Always raise your eyebrows when someone says, “It’s impossible.”

Throw some counter-questions like:

“Tell me why it can’t be done?”

“Why do you think so?”

This will help you get some clarity.

Lesson #11: Don’t put your ideas in a vacuum.

Never think that someone might steal your billion-dollar idea.

If you keep your thoughts in a vacuum, they might not advance to their full potential.

Meet with creative people and discuss your ideas with them.

You might even discover fascinating things about your ideas.

How it works is:

Good ideas, when fused, breed better ideas.

And accidentally, you find yourself with a great idea that could change your life.

Sharing your decent ideas is far better than keeping them to yourself.

The more you discuss ideas, the more creative you will become.

Lesson #12: Have a benchmark to measure your results.

Measuring success with a meter

Always measure your progress.

Anyway, you have to know if you have achieved success or not.

Success may have a different meaning for everyone.

So figure out what success means to you.

How will you measure it?

That’s up to you.

The benefit of this is:

It shows you the reality of your progress, which further helps you optimize your strategy.

Bullet Summary: Let’s Recap What We Learned

Let’s summarize what we discussed so far:

  • Thinking doesn’t change by itself. It requires deliberate effort.
  • Thinking is easy if know how to do it right.
  • Always think a bigger picture in your mind.
  • Be creative in all activities of your life.
  • Focus on your important goals to achieve them faster with more energy and momentum.
  • Embrace uncertainty or failures to find golden opportunities or ideas.
  • Don’t get stuck fantasizing. Do a reality check on your ideas before taking action.
  • Build strategic plans to avoid mistakes.
  • Don’t be afraid to think about bigger possibilities.
  • Question conventional opinions and wisdom of experts.
  • Share your creative ideas with thinkers.
  • Measure your progress.

Buy this book on Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover | Audiobook

How Successful People Think Quotes

Here are a few notable quotes from the book by John Maxwell:

If you don’t take a realistic look at your dream — and what it will take to accomplish — you will never achieve it.

– John Maxwell

Many people mistakenly believe that if they aren’t born creativity, they will never be creative.

– John Maxwell

Many people mistakenly believe that if they aren’t born creativity, they will never be creative.

– John Maxwell

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 has done.

– John Maxwell

How Successful People Think Review

How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life
This book teaches you how successful people think in their everyday lives and business. And how did they develop it in the first place?

Last update on 2024-05-17 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon

This book was short in size.

But it packed almost most of the basic things found in most self-help books.

So this book is excellent for beginners who have never read anything about personal development before.

I also liked how the key points are given in a structured way.

Talking about the problems, I didn’t find any issue with this book.

Although, the paper quality of the book I received was not good.

The size of the book is a little smaller than the average, so you may find it weird.

But anyway, the content of the book was simple and great.


No Problemo!

Overall, it’s a decent book.

Book Rating: 7/10.

Get audiobook on Audible: Buy on Audible

Get the Hardcover version: Buy on Amazon

Get the Paperback version: View price on Amazon

Get the Audio CD: View price on Amazon

Next Steps After Reading This Book Summary

Here are a few things you can do next…

Step #1: Read More Book Summaries on SUCCESS

Step #2: Try Courses on Linkedin Learning For Free

I highly recommend checking out the Develop Your Thinking And Innovation Skills course on Linkedin Learning.

It’s a fantastic E-Learning platform that provides more than 16000+ courses taught by real-world professionals.

The best part?

You will get a 30-day free trial if you go through my link.

In case you make a purchase, you will support this blog. Thanks.

Click here to claim your 1-month free trial on LinkedIn Learning

Step #3: Read & Listen From A Wide Collection Book Summaries on Blinkist

If you are busy and want quick insights from books in both text and audio, you might like Blinkist.

It’s more than 4500+ book summaries along with exclusive author podcasts.

Click here to claim Blinkist 7-Days risk-free trial

Step #4: Get the book on Amazon

What’s better than reading from the book, right?

It’s always a great idea to learn from books.

It’ll help you understand the topic on a deeper level.

Buy this book on Amazon: Paperback | Hardcover | Audiobook

Step #5: Share This Summary & Subscribe

If you loved this book summary, please let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Also, if you want to stay updated with the new releases, subscribe to my weekly email newsletter.

Note: You will also get fantastic guides on personal growth, mindset, business, etc.

Feel free to share this article with your friends.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed it. Bye.

Shami Manohar

The Brain Behind

I am Shami Manohar, the founder of WizBuskOut. My obsession with non-fiction books has fueled me with the energy to create this website. I read at least one book every week on topics such as business, critical thinking, mindset, psychology, and more.

My mission is to educate and empower individuals with the knowledge that works in real life.

Connect with me on LinkedIn

Consider supporting me in my mission:

I invest a lot of time, energy, and money in things like softwares, books, design, videos, artists, designers, etc., to provide you with this level of quality content at zero cost. If you love consuming my work and appreciate it, support me. This would help me provide even more value and help humanity grow. Every little penny counts.

Donate here

Become a channel member on YouTube