How Successful People Think By John C. Maxwell – Review

Table of Contents

On the fence about picking up John Maxwell’s book on how successful people think?

If so, you have come to the right place.

I have read and listened to hundreds of books over the years and have decided to start reviewing each new book that I read.

I picked up the audiobook “How Successful People Think” at my local library last week and just finished listening to it.

The audiobook is almost four hours long so it’s fairly short compared to other self-help books that I have listened to.

You should be able to listen to the entire book in a week’s time by allocating 30min a day to it.

So what can you expect to learn from this book?

First of all, I would like to say that I struggle with books that state “All successful people do X and Y” so just do this and you will be successful too.

When it comes to success, I don’t think there is a one fits all formula because not everyone’s definition of success is the same and some people are more gifted in certain areas than others.

That being said, if you follow the principles in this book you will be well on your way to finding success.

Main Principles

In How Successful People Think, John C. Maxwell discusses the thought process used by successful individuals and explains how these techniques can be learned.

There are 11 types of thinking:

#1. Big picture thinking

Maxwell believes that successful people think big and thus prevent themselves from getting caught up in the mundane.

Big picture thinking is all about focusing on things that really matter.

#2. Focused thinking

Removes distractions and mental clutter so that you can concentrate on an issue and think with clarity.

Focused thinking harnesses energy towards a desired goal.

#3. Creating thinking

Successful people value ideas, enjoy exploring options, embrace ambiguity, and connect what is seemingly unconnected.

Maxwell explains that creative thinking is valuable because it results in a large number of ideas for consideration.

#4. Realistic thinking

Maxwell believes that successful people use realistic thinking to minimize downside risk by determining in advance what the consequences of different actions might be.

Realistic thinking is basically about planning for the worst-case scenario while expecting the best.

#5. Strategic thinking

Maxwell believes that in order to become successful you must use strategic thinking to take a longterm view of a situation.

By strategically thinking about a situation you are able to simplify ideas by breaking them down into manageable pieces.

#6. Possibility thinking

Successful individuals believe that solutions exist to even the most difficult problems.

Possibility thinking is about finding solutions for any situation.

#7. Reflective thinking

Maxwell explains that successful people think back on past experiences and use the knowledge learned to make decisions and avoid repeating past mistakes.

Reflective thinking is all about transforming an experience into insight.

#8. Popular thinking

Popular thinking is my favorite principle in this book — it basically explains that successful people do not follow trends, they start them.

Simply put… if you think like most people, don’t expect to receive different results.

#9. Shared thinking

Maxwell believes that most good ideas are the product of shared thinking. When people seek out and value other people’s thoughts, they accomplish more than they could alone.

This doesn’t mean you have to take everyone’s opinion as truth, it’s about considering people’s opinion and finding those that are useful.

#10. Unselfish thinking

Maxwell states that successful people think unselfishly and that givers are the happiest people in the world.

Unselfish thinking is about adding value to other people and being part of something that is bigger than yourself.

#11. Bottom-line thinking

You might be thinking that this principle is all about money. However, Maxwell explains that money is not always the primary measure of success.

The best way to think about bottom-line thinking is as the takeaway or desired result from a given activity.

My Likes

There are many things to love about this book.

I specifically liked how Maxwell used real-life examples to explain how to put each principle to use.

I tend to connect more with books that use real-life examples instead of just dishing out a bunch of principles that should be followed because so and so said.

Another thing that I loved about this book was the way Maxwell explained how one should challenge popular thinking.

I am a firm believer that most people prefer to go with the flow, instead of questioning things. Thus never reaching their full potential.

Lastly, I kind of liked that the audiobook was short and to the point as most of the principles found within the book are pretty self-explanatory.

My Dislikes

I didn’t find anything groundbreaking in this book. I think if you have read a few personal development books, you’ll find that most of the stuff in this book is redundant.


I would say that most successful people two things in common: they are not afraid to carve out their own path and they think outside the box.

How Successful People Think by John Maxwell is a great book for anyone looking for general guidelines on how to get past their own glass ceiling by changing their way of thinking.

That being said, sometimes it takes hearing things from someone specific for them to sink in. Therefore, give this book a shot and see if you can find a few gold nuggets just as I did.

Where to get the book:

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