Book Review :: How Successful People Think

How Successful People Think was my first John Maxwell read, but it won’t be my last. I’ve been hearing his name for a while now, and after this one, I know why.

First, this is a short read. It is a small 4×5 book of 120 pages. So, it isn’t daunting for the busy professional who thinks they don’t have time for another self-help book. What this book does have, though, is a very clear message with a few specific, supporting ideas.

Message: Take (make/create) time in your schedule for intentional thought. For those who have read 7 Habits, this is one of those high-performing, quadrant II (important, non-urgent) activities.

From there, Maxwell describes a number of different types of thinking – strategic, creative, realistic, reflective, selfless, and bottom-line to name few – and encourages readers to practice variety in their thinking in order to solve big problems and create big results.

What I liked about this book is that it was focused and realistic. While I love 7 Habits, it can be overwhelming to think about doing all that Covey suggests you do. This is a simple one small step (sort of) adjustment to your regular routine. That said, there are many nuggets – some familiar, but worth reminding –  within that I made note of:

  • Always have an agenda (with scheduled time, in meetings)
  • Remove distractions
  • Strive for excellence in a few areas rather than good in many
  • Ask good questions (of yourself, of others)
  • Answer “why” before “how”
  • Instead of trying to be great, be a part of something greater than yourself

Two practical things I learned that I want to spend time thinking about and incorporating into my life are planning your life in 40-day increments and creating a system of symbols in note-taking so that when you go back to review your notes, it is easy to pick up your gleanings. Maxwell has his own system that he shares.

One of the more thoughtful insights that I’ve been mulling around in my head is the difference between leaving an inheritance and a legacy. So many of us work, work, work in order to leave an inheritance, when what the generation after us really needs is a legacy. And actually, everyone leaves both – it is just a matter of what each consists of.

My mom and I had a related conversation last weekend. They are about to make some updates to the pool area in their backyard. She said, “You kids need to enjoy coming home because your dad and I are spending every bit of your inheritance!” Good for us, she realizes that what my parents are doing instead is investing in our legacy. Our family loves time together – there is nothing better than quality time spent in each others company. What my parents have done is invest in an environment that makes our time together that much more desirable.

I could go on and on with this theme, but I’ll stop for now. Don’t be surprised if you see a whole post about it sometime, though.

I read this for a book club discussion at work within my women’s affinity group, and it provided excellent fodder. I highly recommend this for anyone who is not content with where they are in any aspect of their life.

To read Maxwell’s blog, go here. And, on a personal but (I promise) unrelated note, if you’re from Atlanta, he’s speaking at my church – 12Stone – on May 2. He actually quotes both our senior pastor and another pastor in this book.

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2 Replies to “Book Review :: How Successful People Think

  1. I love these types of books. It does sound like one that I might enjoy. Thanks for the great review.

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