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As you think, you shall become...
on 16 April 2005
The Magic of Thinking Big is the first book I ever read to do with aiming high, organising your life and living purposefully, and it is a testemant to the quality of the book that my copy is now an incomprehensible mess of highlighted passages, scribbled notes and scrawled realisations. I have read and re-read it many times and have committed it's principles to memory. Cliched as it is, I can say this book has changed my life immeasurably.
THINKING BIG is clearly descended from the famous THINK AND GROW RICH, the book in which Napoleon Hill interviewed men of fortune to discover what common traits had sealed their success. In THINKING BIG, David Schwartz undertakes the same project and arrives at 10 chapters of widely-applicable 'success principles'.
Each chapter focuses on a different principle -'Attitude', 'Environment', explained in the typical format of the genre, with a wealth of illustrative stories and examples, often about salesmen. Each chapter contains a dozen ideas which have proven invaluable, and Schwartz summarises each chapter helpfully with an action plan.
The flaw of THINKING BIG is a common one of all 'development' books, in that it has dated considerably, and overuses made up terminology. A reader must be prepared to stomach terms such as 'excusitis' and 'Mr. Skid Row'. They may also find some of Schwartz's values questionable. Whilst it is a sound assertion that associating with the same group all the time will restrict your horizons, ideas such as 'make friends with lots of people in different jobs' can result in an entirely superficial social life. As with all books like this, you must read with a keen eye, as some of Schwartz's advice is a 'quick fix' which will be of no use without genuine inner progress (ie - 'walk faster').
That said, THINKING BIG contains more useful distinctions and ideas than most books combined, and it's continued popularity is justified. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to make a change in their lives, as it is in a different league to the kind of junk which fills out the pitiful 'self-help' sections of most bookstores. To anyone already engaged in a study of success, I would recommend this as great motivation, although many of it's ideas are to be found elsewhere (THINK AND GROW RICH covers much of the same ground). If anything, THE MAGIC OF THINKING BIG is the most accessible book of it's kind, and the ideal precursor to books such as THINK AND GROW RICH and UNLIMITED POWER, which expand on the ideas which Schwartz describes.