The Magic of Thinking Big: Summary & Review

the magic of thinkig big

The Magic of Thinking Big exhorts readers to abandon small and easily-achievable goals and to shift instead to huge goals -moonshots- that drive you and motivate you.

Bullet Summary

  • The first step towards success is thinking big
  • Whether you believe you can or you can’t you’re right: believe you can
  • Drop all excuses and start


About The Author:
David Joseph Schwartz (1927-1987) was a professor of marketing at Georgia State University, but he is best known for his work as a motivational writer and coach, most of all with the book we are reviewing here, “The Magic of Thinking Big“.

Believe in Success and You Will Succeed

  1. Believe you will succeed
  2. Dream big

Schwartz says that to succeed you must believe you will succeed.

Start by changing all your fears and doubts into positive thoughts. And think big: the size of your success is in direct proportion to the size of your beliefs.

The size of your success is proportional to the size of your dreams

Drop All Excuses

Schwartz dedicates a chapter to the excuses people come up with to avoid going for lofty goals.
But to be successful stopping the excuse mill is mission-critical step 1.

Don’t Underestimate Your Intelligence

Do not underestimate your own intelligence as much as you don’t want to overestimate other people’s intelligence.

Schwartz also says that attitude is more important than IQ (read Emotional Intelligence) and, I would add, your intelligence is not cast in stone.

You can change your brain and grow your skills. Also, read how to develop a growth mindset.

That being said, your intelligence also matters more or less depending on which field you decide to pursue.

The less excuses you make, the more successful you will be

Build Confidence and Destroy Fear

I really liked two guidelines by the author:

  1. Take action – it’s loitering inaction that feeds fear
  2. Only do what you believe is right to do

Also read: How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.

Think & Dream Creatively

  1. Believe you can do it and your mind will find ways to do i
  2. Don’t let past traditions get in the way: experiment, go for new approaches, and think of different
  3. Demand yourself how you can do better and magical answers will show you the way
  4. Scramble therapy: meet and talk to new and different people, and get new inputs in your mind. Ideas in = ideas out

You Are Who You Think You Are

Change how you think about yourself and you will change your life.

  1. Carry yourself as if you were important. Because you are
  2. Think of your work as important. Because it is
  3. Ask yourself how the ideal and important you would act. Then act that way

Go First Class

Get the best people you can around you, pick the best advisors, and only listen to successful people.
Always go for the best in class. You can’t afford anything else.

Always go first class. You can’t afford anything else.

Think Right Towards People

The Magic of Thinking Big also deals with social skills.

Schwartz encourages the readers to introduce themselves and be proactive in making new friendships.

Similar to How to Win Friends he recommends you take care of remembering people’s names.
And a very good suggestion is to accept people as they are and focus on the positives.

Also, read:

Think Like a Leader

To get people to follow you, start by putting yourself in their shoes and looking at things from their perspective.

Treat people fairly and lead by example.
Also, read:

Get In The Habit of Action

Start things, don’t wait for conditions to be perfect because they never are.

Waiting for the perfect time is often only an excuse you’re making. You will meet obstacles anyway, start and solve them as you go: the obstacle is the way.

The author recommends you don’t wait for your spirit to get you going, but build the habit of moving right away.

You don’t dare because it’s difficult, but it’s difficult because you don’t dare it’s difficult

Turning Defeat Into Victory

Schwartz says that you must study your faults and mistakes in order to avoid repeating them in the future.

Don’t let the pain overwhelm you, as Tony Robbins says there’s some good in every situation, you only need to find.
And if you can’t find any, here’s what Ray Dalio says: pain + failure provide your biggest drivers for growth.

Set Big Goals

Get clear on where you want to and write it down: your life is too important to leave it to chance.

Then let your goals drive you and motivate you along the way.

The Magic of Thinking BIG

The author finally ties down the power of thinking big in driving you forward.

Even in the toughest situations:

  • When haters hate: think BIG, it’s proof you’re growing
  • When you get scared: think BIG, focus on your strengths, look important, and remember nobody’s any bigger than you
  • When you’re getting angry: think BIG, a quarrel is not probably worth your time
  • When your romantic life is in trouble: think BIG. Rebuild romance, don’t get even

the magic of thinkig big

Real-Life Applications

Don’t Overestimate People’s Intelligence
That is so true. As Steve Jobs said, “when you realize it’s people no smarter than you are that run this world, things change”. It took me a long time to realize that… And I’m still in that process.

Put Positive Memories in Your Brain
I liked the idea of putting positive thoughts and memories in your mind when you wake up and before going to bed. Try it out, it’s helpful.


It’s aged a bit
If you’ve been around the self-help literature for a while most of the information in here won’t be new to you. But that’s not to say the book isn’t valid: quite the opposite, it’s this book that propagated many of those ideas.

Does thinking big really work?

Thinking big may, or may not work, and we don’t know for sure because there are no experiments or research that show how thinking big leads to achieving big.

When it comes to “focusing on the positives”, that’s a popular mantra of self-help, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct.

Self-learned optimism, as the more scientific Martin Seligman calls it, is different than simply thinking positively.
And optimism is in some fields and endeavors, but not every time and everywhere, as Seligman himself stresses out.

Also read: self-help myths and pop-psychology myths.


The Magic of Thinking Big is an OK book with an interesting, but ultimately untested concept.

In my personal experience, I think that many people would gain with bigger goals.
But I’ve also seen plenty of people with way too big goals for their levels and skills, and not nearly enough realism, self-assessment, and strategic thinking to even increase their odds of success.
They miserably failed.

The concept of The Magic of Thinking Big reminded me a bit of the concept of moonshots in Bold.

Overall, it’s a good book, but most people can probably find more impactful books and resources in the vast self-help literature.

Read more summaries or get the book on Amazon

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