The Chinese philosopher Confucius once said, “The man who says he can and the man who says he cannot are both correct.” His thinking was that a person’s attitude is the deciding factor of whether they will accomplish their goals. David Schwartz expands on this philosophy in his book The Magic of Thinking Big, where he posits that the key to all success is—you guessed it—thinking big.
The magic of thinking big
In Thinking Big, Schwartz explains that the size of our beliefs ties directly to the size of our accomplishments. In other words, people who think small only make small achievements, where people who think big will accomplish big, too. For example, if I want to get stronger and set a goal to do five push-ups a day, I’ll probably accomplish that goal but not much else beyond it. However, if I set a goal to do a hundred push-ups a day, it may take longer to get there, but achieving that goal will ultimately be way more satisfying and useful in my journey toward greater physical strength.
When we believe we can do something, our brain attracts negative thoughts to confirm these beliefs. For example, if I believe that I’ll get the job I want, it will lead me to thoughts that agree with this belief. I’ll think about what I bring to the table: My flexibility, hard work, and proactivity, for example. But if I don’t believe I’ll get the job, it will lead me to dwell on my own shortcomings, which will reinforce my negative belief.
Achieving your goals
Setting the bar high for ourselves might be easy enough, but how do we accomplish these lofty goals? The first step, Schwartz says, is to believe in yourself. It may sound cliché and unhelpful, but think of it like this: If you don’t value yourself, how can you expect other people to value you? You alone determine your worth. If you approach life with confidence and the belief that you’re valuable, people will treat you that way. Don’t underestimate your abilities or overestimate others’ abilities. People would much rather work with an average person with a great attitude than an extraordinary person who believes they’re worthless.
The other thing we have to do is stop making excuses! Schwartz calls our compulsion to make excuses “Excusitis.” Excuses, he argues, are the thoughts of small-minded people. Whether it be our health, our intelligence, or our luck, Schwartz believes entertaining these excuses will only hold us back. Instead of seeing things as they are, see things as they could be. Where things are right now doesn’t dictate where they will be years from now.
Thinking big is only the first step to success. What follows will involve hard work and persistence, but there is no easy path to success. If there were, we’d all be millionaires. Instead, take the first step to success: Think big. Then, take the second step: Get out there and work!