Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Are You a Petty Thinker, or a Big Thinker?

Magic of Thinking Big
David J, Schwartz

Chapter 4 – How to Think Big

The author states that “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 thinking.” (pg 66) Further, “How big do we think determines the size of our accomplishments.”

The greatest weakness we all have is self-deprecation; thinking less of ourselves than we really are; the author gives many examples of how people don’t act on something because they have rationalized why they should not do it.

The author takes the phrase “Know thyself” and alters it to what he calls most people interpretation as “Know thy negative self”, indicating that “most self-evaluation consists of making long mental lists of one’s faults, shortcomings, inadequacies.” (pg 66)

Here is how to help measure your true size (pg 66; quoted exactly):

  1. Determine your five chief assets. Invite some objective friend to help – possibly your wife, your superior, a professor – some intelligent person who will give you an honest opinion.
  2. Next, under each asset, write the names of three persons you know who have achieved large success but who do not have this asset to as great a degree as you.

After doing this, the author suggests that the only conclusion to this is that you are bigger than you think because you will have out ranked many successful people.

He makes yet another hit against education:

People who use difficult, high-sounding words and phrases which most folks have to strain themselves to understand are inclined to be overbearing, and stuffed shirts. And stuffed shirts are usually small thinkers. (pg 67)

He goes on to explain that the only bearing that words have is how they effect our own attitudes and the attitudes of others. His basis for this is that we only think in images, not words, so we should use words that promote positive images for ourselves and our listeners. He concludes on this point:

Big thinkers are specialists in creating positive, forward-looking, optimistic pictures in their own minds and in the minds of others. To think big, we must use words and phrases which produce big, positive mental images. (pg 68).

He lists a table of small, negative image phrases verses big, positive image phrases. Here is the first 6 out of 11 listed. (pg 68-9):

  1. It’s no use, we’re whipped vs. Let’s keep trying. Here is a new angle
  2. I was in that business once and failed, never again vs. I went broke, but it was my own fault. I’m going to try again.
  3. I’ve tried but the product won’t sell. People don’t want it vs. So far I’ve not been able to sell the product. But I know it is good and I’m going to find the formula that will put it over.
  4. The market is saturated. Imagine, 75% of the potential has already been sold. Better get out vs. Imagine, 25% of the market is still not sold. Count me in. This looks big!
  5. Their orders have been small. Cut them off. vs. Their orders have been small. Let’s map out a plan for selling them more of their needs.
  6. Five years is too long a time to spend before I’ll get into the top ranks of your company. Count me out. vs. Five years is not really a long time. Just think, that leaves me 30 more years to serve at a high level.

The author then gives us four ways to develop the vocabulary of a big thinker (pg 69):

  1. Use big, positive, cheerful words and phrases to describe how you feel. “Say you feel wonderful at every possible opportunity and you will begin to feel wonderful – and bigger, too! Become known as a person who always feels great. It wins friends.”
  2. Use bright, cheerful, favorable words and phrases to describe other people. What you say will eventually get back to the person you said it about. Be sure that your words are good.
  3. Use positive language to encourage others. Compliment people about anything and everything.
  4. Use positive words to outline plans to others. “Promise victory and win support. Build castles, don’t dig graves.

The author then suggests through a series of examples that we should see things as they could be, not how they are. On page 75, he lists steps to see things as they could be:

  1. Practice adding value to things.
  2. Practice adding value to people.
  3. Practice adding value to yourself.

The chapter ends with a table of 11 common situations (S) and the ‘petty thinker’ way (P) vs. the ‘big thinker’ way (B) of seeing it. Here are paraphrases of the first five (pg 81):

  1. S=Expense accounts – P=seeks to decrease costs – B=seeks to increase income
  2. S=Conversation – P=emphasis on negative qualities – B=emphasis on positive qualities
  3. S=Progress – P=retrenchment or status quo – B=expansion
  4. S=future – P=limited – B=promising
  5. Work – P=looks for ways to avoid – B=Looks for more, especially helping others

Christian refutation


As I mentioned earlier, there is a connection between words and actions, however, in this type of material, that connection is twisted to the ends of the author. The ends of the author is to produce a book which is appealing to you so that you can fulfill your earthly desires. Take another look yet again at 1 John 2:15.

With that being said, consider James 3:1-12:

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.
2For we all stumble in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle the whole body as well.
3Now if we put the bits into the horses' mouths so that they will obey us, we direct their entire body as well.
4Look at the ships also, though they are so great and are driven by strong winds, are still directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot desires.
5So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things See how great a forest is set aflame by such a small fire!
6And the tongue is a fire, the very world of iniquity; the tongue is set among our members as that which defiles the entire body, and sets on fire the course of our life, and is set on fire by hell.
7For every species of beasts and birds, of reptiles and creatures of the sea, is tamed and has been tamed by the human race.
8But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.
9With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God;
10from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way.
11Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?
12Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh.

Truly, our words are important, however, this is used here is a diagnosis for your own condition. If your words are good, you are in line with God. If your words are not good, you are not. Changing your words, but not your heart will only lead to stress. It will cause you to have a point in your life where you will crack under that pressure of trying to conform, especially when you are doing it only to satisfy your own desires.


The most commonly quoted verse by people of this movement (Word-Faith; mind you this is a secular book, but it is influenced by this movement) is Proverbs 23:7b:

For as he thinks within himself, so he is.

The thing that I find very ironic considering this movement is when we observe the context (Proverbs 23:6-8):

Do not eat the bread of a selfish man,
Or desire his delicacies;
7For as he thinks within himself, so he is.
He says to you, "Eat and drink!"
But his heart is not with you.
8You will vomit up the morsel you have eaten,
And waste your compliments.

The context is a person who is engaging in discourse with a greedy person who is simply looking to exploit the situation. The statement is true, however, however you are in your heart is who you are. Again, however, the above applies: You can not speak into existence your positive heart. Such a radical change only comes by a renewing of your mind. To do this, you do not need ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’, you need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Comparing ourselves to others

When the author is talking about assets and comparing your assets to that of someone else, I was reminded of a passage of scripture. This is from the Book of John, 21:20-22

Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, "Lord, who is the one who betrays You?"
So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, "Lord, and what about this man?"
22Jesus said to him, "If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!"

In this passage, Peter is questioning Jesus about the life of John. You can read the response to that question above. We must remember that each person has his own gifts from God; we don’t need to compare ourselves to anyone else for anything at all.

Positive confessions

Ephesians 4:25 makes a good point:

Therefore, laying aside falsehood, SPEAK TRUTH EACH ONE of you WITH HIS NEIGHBOR, for we are members of one another.

This means truth in absolutely everything, no exception. The author fails to make a concession for genuine problems. He is teaching that no matter what, speak wonderfully and you will become wonderful. What if you are actually sick? What about the recent passing of a person? To say you are wonderful in such cases will build up inside of you stress and emotional strain. This does NOT mean you run through the streets screaming your problems, but truly, if you go in to work and are ill, someone asks you how you are, and you say that you are sick (I am assuming that you are capable of working. I used to push myself with the material of this book into going to work when it was more appropriate to stay home and rest), the example of your work is a testimony in itself.


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