Ben Nadel
On User Experience (UX) Design, JavaScript, ColdFusion, Node.js, Life, and Love.
I am the chief technical officer at InVision App, Inc - a prototyping and collaboration platform for designers, built by designers. I also rock out in JavaScript and ColdFusion 24x7.
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Ben Nadel at CFUNITED 2009 (Lansdowne, VA) with: Phill Nacelli

The Magic Of Thinking Big By David Schwartz (Thanks Clark Valberg!)

By Ben Nadel on
Tags: Books, Life

On the recommendation by Clark Valberg, this weekend, I listened to the audio book version of The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, Ph.D.. It's a totally cheesy book with hilarious synthesizer music between sections and has the overall feel of a "Sexual Harassment In The Workplace" employee video filmed in the 70s. But, this quirkiness serves to make the audio book totally accessible and easy to listen to. Through this enjoyable, almost entertaining tone, David Schwartz delivers powerful messages about what it takes to be successful.


 
 
 

 
The Magic Of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz Ph.D. Book Cover  
 
 
 

I think that the most profound message in the book - the message that brings all of his points together - is the idea that the only difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is Attitude. In order to be successful, you don't have to be a genius; you don't have to have a lot of money; you don't have to come from an upper class background; you don't even have to have the most tremendous ideas - you simply need to have ideas about which you are passionate, you need to have the drive to follow through with these ideas, and, perhaps most importantly, you have to have the conviction that you deserve to see your goals achieved.

As you can see, none of these requirements are material; they're all about thinking big and having a positive mental outlook. At the end of the day, the only thing that really keeps you from achieving greatness is yourself. David Schwartz believes that the way in which people hold themselves back falls into three categories of "Excusitis":

  1. I don't have time.
  2. I don't feel well enough.
  3. I am too young / too old.

I have to say that I am guilty of all three of these things. I often don't feel that I have time to take on new responsibilities or learn new things; sometimes, I barely feel that I am keeping up as it is. I am also guilty of feeling too young for many things. This stems from serious issues of self confidence - who am I to say anything about anything? Who am I to say anything about coding standards or properly architecting software applications? Shouldn't that be left to "professionals" with more experience? Of the three, though, the one that hit closest to home was the excuse of feeling too tired to achieve success. I have been tired for so long that I don't even notice it anymore and hearing it listed as one of the biggest limiting factors of success was such a shock that it literally changed my outlook on life! ... yes, I said it changed my outlook on life!


 
 
 

 
Bill Murray In What About Bob - I Feel Good, I Feel Great, I Feel Wonderful  
 
 
 

Another great point that David Schwartz makes is that the world sees you exactly as you see yourself. If you have a lot of self doubt, people will see you as insignificant and incompetent. If you dress like you are not worthwhile, people will instantly come to the same conclusion when they first meet you. As such, it is not only important to project success, but more so, to believe that you deserve to be successful. Part of the problem is that people tend to underestimate their own abilities while, at the same time, vastly overestimate the skills and abilities of others.

This last point is actually very interesting because it is something that I see a lot in my own perception of people. I tend to think that others are much more experienced and intelligent that I am. And yet, time and time again, I find that there is this huge gap between what I perceive and what actually is. For example, I have had many times where I realize that an amazing web applications architect knows nothing about CSS or that a master of object oriented program knows nothing about Javascript? Or, that a guru rarely ever codes HTML interfaces. Or, that a master web developer has never used Photoshop or Fireworks to cut up a design file.

I don't bring this up to say that these people aren't as smart as I think they are; these people are quite smart and extremely talented at what they do. I bring this up to point out that often times, I downplay my own skills and my own right to feel successful based on my inaccurate perceptions of the skill level of others.

There's so much more in this book that what I am touching on, but really, it all comes down to your mental outlook. You have to think big, have big dreams, and believe that you have the right to achieve these dreams; you have to see in yourself what you want other to see in you. At just over 4 hours, I highly recommend this audio book to everyone.




Reader Comments

Glad to see that this book is still as effective as it was for me. I had dropped out of college where I was majoring in fine arts years earlier and was thinking of going back. The college counselor showed me the courses that I would have to take for a degree in advertising. Right on the first page was "college algebra." That's all I needed to see to convince me that I'd never make it. Then I came across TMOTB and who'd believe it? because David Shwartz's teachings I ended up in engineering school, and then graduate school to boot. That was over four decades ago. I have never stopped being grateful to that man.

@Mike,

That's awesome to hear. This feels like a book that I should re-examine every once in a while just to get brushed up on all the advice. I was actually thinking that on the way to work today. It's awesome to hear that years later, you're still feeling good about it.

@Bharani,

Glad you like it; I recommend this book to everyone who is looking to improve themselves. It's a fantastic book.

Ben,
COuld you plz tell me how to find the audio book version of The Magic of Thinking Big by David J. Schwartz, Ph.D
Thanks

Thanks Ben - you've captured the essence of a great audio book. The simple and powerful concepts in The Magic of Thinking Big are as fresh and relevant now as they were when first sold on audio cassette tapes!

@Noel,

Speaking of Audio Cassettes, they definitely have that great old-time recording feeling. When I listen to them, I feel like I'm listening to some office video tape that all new employees have to watch. And I am not saying that in any kind of negative way - it's a fantastic book!!

I have just started reading this gold mine of a book and it's amazing! I have actually converted mine into a work book with thoughts arising from his advice clearly written out / marked in red along the margins! I will definitely refer to it often.

@Nyabzskn,

Wow, it sounds like you're really approaching the book with the right attitude! If you have any particular thoughts you'd like to share as you read it, I would love to hear them. I find this book to be magical.

Yes this is the book i love most. my life is transformed a lot after reading this book. Every topic covered in this book have a perfect example. Its just like conversation vth an other. I almost found solution to my problems. I sincearly advice people to go through this book to transform u'r life and live ur life

@Neha,

I read the book fifty years ago. Still fresh in my mind. Just a couple of weeks ago a friend I gave a copy to, not long ago, told me she sent a copy to a person close to her who recently lost her job.

The phrase "the gift that keeps on giving" fits well here.