How Successful People Think: Summary & Review

how successful people think book cover

How Successful People Think provides readers with an overview of how the mindsets and beliefs of successful people.

Full Summary

About The Author: John Maxwell is an American pastor, keynote speaker, leadership expert, and best-selling author.
He is also the author of “21 Irrefutable Rules of Leadership“, “Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn” and “12 Invaluable Laws of Growth“.


Don’t fool yourself:

Changing your thinking will be neither automatic nor easy.
But it can be done if you apply yourself.
And it will be very worth it.

6 Basic Rules to Change Your Mindset

Here are 6 ways to change your thinking for the positive:

  • Expose yourself to good input
  • Be around good thinkers
  • Only spend mental cycles on positive thoughts
  • Act on those positive thoughts
  • Schedule out time for thinking
  • Repeat the process

Also, read:

1. Focused Thinking

Successful people have very clear targets.

A very clear target allows you to get highly relevant feedback in a short period of time, which, in turn, will allow you to take strides toward your goal.

2. Possibility Thinking

Winners have a can-do attitude.
They believe in possibilities and believe there’s a way to achieve anything.

3. Creative Thinking

Creative thinking is the ability to make connections and associations in a way that the final product is different than the sum of all the inputs.

Does it make sense?

Basically, Maxwell is saying that creative thinking is about combining different ideas and inputs to reach a conclusion that is different from every single input taken by itself.

I especially liked the concept that creative thinking has a relation with “screwball thinking”.
“Screwball thinking” means that to think creatively, you need to tolerate some craziness.

4. Realistic Thinking

Leaders must be grounded in reality and take into account best-case scenarios, worst-case scenarios, and likelihoods.

5. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking requires that you put your ideas and solutions into a bigger plan.

Basically, thinking about contingencies and how to actually make it happen.

6. Reflective Thinking

Reflective thinking takes time to ponder things.

Block out time and only dedicate it to thinking over your ideas.

7. Question Popular Thinking

Popular thinking is the most widely held view that most share.

But sometimes you need to escape and distance yourself from widely held views if you want to disrupt and come up with something groundbreaking.

8. Unselfish Thinking

Givers are the happiest people in the world.

If you want to improve yourself and the world, adopt unselfish thinking and learn to be a giver.

9. Bottom Line Thinking

Bottom line doesn’t necessarily mean thinking in dollar terms.

But it means knowing what you’re after so that you can filter out your decision based on what you really want.

10. Big Picture Thinking

Successful people look deep.

But they don’t get lost at the tree level: they look at the whole forest.

how successful people think book cover


If you’re into self-development you probably won’t have many “wow” moments as a lot of the material will not be new for you.

But that is not to say that the message is any less valid of course.
The principles Maxwell shares in “How Successful People Think” are true and timeless.
And they can always serve as a reminder.

I did prefer however some other work from Maxwell, including “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership“.

Read more summaries or get the book on Amazon

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