Are you on a quest to be more successful, more productive, and more effective with your time?


If you are, then you are in good company. And you are going to like what I have to share with you today.


John Maxwell is a well-respected expert on leadership. You’ve probably read several of his books and realized that regardless of whether or not you are building an online business or striving to build a life based on intentionally creating what you want, it all comes down to one thing: choice.


You became a leader the moment that you decided to create a life and a business that you love. By choosing what you want, and choosing to act, you are also choosing to lead.


One of John Maxwell’s books that attracted my attention was, “How Successful People Think”. The tagline was obviously right up my alley, too: “Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life”.


It is absolutely worth purchasing as he weaves in stories and examples of each type of thinking and how it applies to you. In the event that your list of “must read books” is as lengthy as mine, though, I’ll go ahead and give you my highlights from his book on the 11 different ways that successful people think.




Big Picture Thinking

Big Picture thinking allows you to lead, keep s you on target, allows you to see what others see, promotes teamwork, helps you to chart unexplored territory and prevents you from getting lost in the mundane details.

To acquire the wisdom of big picture thinking, John Maxwell suggests that you:

  1. Do not strive for certainty
  2. Learn from every experience
  3. Gain Insight from a variety of people
  4. Give yourself permission to go beyond the status quo


Focused Thinking

By engaging in focused thinking, you harness your energy toward a desired goal, give ideas the time to develop, bring clarity to the target and achieve greatness by becoming skilled at what you are doing. Your priorities, your gifts, and developing your dream are all great places to start when working on your focused thinking.

How can you stay focused?

The answers aren’t rocket science but they are very often overlooked.

To stay focused:

  1. Remove distractions
  2. Schedule time for focused thining
  3. Keep items of focus in front of you
  4. Set goals
  5. Question your progress

Please realize that by focusing your energy on developing only what you are most skilled at, you are giving up the ability to be a generalist. You are giving up on knowing every person. You are giving up trying to do everything. You are giving up going everywhere and being well-rounded.

Is that OK with you?

To grow and to achieve new things, we must be willing to let go of some things (ideas, people, activities) that we held on to tightly in the past.


Creative Thinking

Creative thinkers value ideas, explore options, embrace ambiguity, celebrate the “offbeat”, connect the unconnected ideas and do not fear failure.

What is so great about creative thinking?

Creative thinking:

  1. Adds value
  2. Compounds (the more you work on thinking this way, the more creativity that you’ll have)
  3. Draws people to you and your ideas
  4. Helps you to learn more
  5. Challenges the status quo


Realistic Thinking

By employing realistic thinking, you are minimizing the downside risk, gaining a clear target and game plan, creating an environment for change, gaining credibility, providing a foundation to build upon , providing security, developing the dream and bringing it to life.

To recognize the importance of realistic thinking, you can:

  1. Develop an appreciation for truth
  2. Do your homework
  3. Think through the pros and cons
  4. Picture the worst-case scenario
  5. Align your thinking with resources


Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking (one of my personal fave’s!) is incredibly powerful. Not only does it simplify the seemingly difficult, it prompts you to ask the right questions, encourages you to customize your plan to fir the circumstances, but it also prepares you today for an uncertain tomorrow and reduces the margin for error.

John Maxwell recommends several steps to develop strategic thinking:

  1. Break down the issue
  2. Ask WHY before HOW
  3. Identify the real issues and objectives
  4. Review your resources
  5. Develop your plan
  6. Put the right people in the right place
  7. Keep repeating the process


Possibility Thinking

This type of thinking gives you several advantages as your build your business online. First, it increases your possibilities. It also draws opportunities and people to you, increases the possibilities for others (it’s contagious!), allows you to dream really big dreams, makes it possible to ascend beyond the average, gives you energy and prevents you from throwing in the towel.

To feel the excitement of possibility thinking:

  1. Stop focusing on the Impossibilities
  2. Stay away from the “experts”
  3. Look for possibilities in every situation
  4. Dream one size bigger
  5. Question the status quo
  6. Find inspiration from great achievers


Reflective Thinking

When you shift your focus to reflective thinking, it gives you a true perspective, increases your confidence in decision making, clarifies the big picture and takes a good experience and makes it a valuable experience.

To better embrace the lessons of reflective thinking:

  1. Set aside time for reflection
  2. Remove yourself from distractions
  3. Regularly review your calendar or journal
  4. Ask the right questions
  5. Cement your learnings through action


Popular Thinking

There are good reasons to question popular thinking. First, it often means that you aren’t doing any thinking at all. It also offers false hope, is slow to embrace change and brings about only average results.

To develop your ability to challenge popular thinking:

  1. Think before you follow
  2. Appreciate thinking different from your own
  3. Continuously question your own thinking
  4. Try new things in new ways
  5. Get comfortable being uncomfortable


Shared Thinking

This type of thinking is another fun one to look at. At it’s core, shared thinking is faster than solo thinking, is more innovative than thinking alone, brings more maturity to the situation, is stronger and returns more value than solo thinking.

If you’d like to embrace shared thinking:

  1. Value the ideas of others
  2. Move from competition to cooperation
  3. Have an agenda when you meet
  4. Get the right people on the bus
  5. Reward good collaborators and thinkers


Unselfish Thinking

This type of thinking can often deliver a return greater than any other kind of thinking. Some of the benefits include personal fulfillment, adding value to others, encouraging other virtues, increasing the quality of life for you and others, making you part of something larger than yourself and it creates a legacy.

To better experience the satisfaction of this type of thinking:

  1. Put others first
  2. Expose yourself to situations where people have needs
  3. Give quietly or anonymously
  4. Continually check (and re-check) your motives


Bottom Line Thinking

Bottom line thinking provides clarity, it helps you to assess every situation to make the best decisions, it generates high morale and it ensures your future.

To improve your bottom line thinking:

  1. Identify the real bottom line
  2. Make the bottom line the point of focus
  3. Create a strategic plan to achieve the bottom line
  4. Align all team members with the bottom line
  5. Stick with one system and continuously monitor your results


Please share in the comments: Which ways of thinking have you been neglecting? What have you been doing well? How will you schedule time to think in new ways this week?


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