The 15 Different Ways That Successful People Think

The 15 Different Ways That Successful People Think

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successful people

The world’s most successful people have one thing in common: they think differently from everyone else.

This is how John C. Maxwell introduces his New York Times bestseller, How Successful People Think (he’s also written a ton of leadership books, which have sold around 19 million copies worldwide). So here we have 15 of the best points taken from the book: How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life


Figure out where you need to focus your energy, and then use the 80/20 rule

Devote 80% of your energy to the most important 20% of your activities. Remember that you can’t be everywhere, know everyone, and do everything. And avoid multitasking: it can cost you 40% efficiency.


Thinking is a discipline. If you want to be better at it, you’ve got to work at it

Consider developing a thinking schedule like Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy, who sets aside a half day every two weeks, a whole day every month, and two or three full days every year.


Smart thinkers expose themselves to different ideas and types of people

They’re also selective about spending most of their time with people who challenge them.


It’s one thing to have an idea, another to follow through

“Ideas have a short shelf life. You must act on them before the expiration date.”


Thoughts need time to develop. Don’t just settle on the first thing that comes to mind

Remember the last time you had a brilliant idea at 2 a.m., but it sounded sort of ridiculous when you woke up the next morning? Thoughts need to be “shaped until they have substance” and need to stand the test of “clarity and questioning.”


Smart people collaborate with other smart people

Thinking with others yields higher returns. It’s like giving yourself a shortcut. That’s why brainstorming sessions are so effective.


Reject popular thinking (which often means not thinking at all)

Too many people act, hoping that others have thought things through first.To reject popular thinking you must be OK with feeling uncomfortable. Also remember that right now, there are a bunch of other people out there deciding to think for themselves — and they’re the ones who are successful.


The best thinkers plan ahead, while leaving room for some spontaneity

When you’re strategic, you reduce your margin of error. Simply having vague ideas of where you are and what you want to accomplish will get you no where.The keys to being strategic: 1. break the issue down, 2. ask why the problem needs to be solved, 3. identify the key issues, 4. review your resources, 5. put the right people in place.Henry Ford once said, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into smaller parts.”


To think differently, do different things

Try new routes to work, meet new people, read books you might even consider boring. The key is exposure to new ideas and ways of life.


To appreciate others’ ideas, you need to value other ideas

You can’t think you’re always right. Give other concepts a chance.


Have an agenda — for the day, and when you meet with people

Too many people only plan for the day. Smart thinkers take time to plan out their weeks, months, and long-term goals — and then they follow through.They also don’t walk into meetings, parties and coffee dates blind. They decide what they want to learn from people before walking through the door.


Reflective thinking gives you perspective and confidence in your decision-making skills

If you’re not reflecting, it’s holding you back more than you think.As Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”


Get over negative self talk. Winners think in terms of “I will” and “I can”

Smart people don’t see limitations. They see possibilities.Former baseball star Sam Ewing once said that “nothing is so embarrassing as watching someone do something that you said could not be done.”


Creative people are dedicated to ideas

They embrace ambiguity, don’t fear failure, and hang out with other creative people.


Naturally optimistic people find it hard to be realistic thinkers

A realistic perspective allows you to get close enough to a problem in order to tackle it. Facing potential consequences also helps you be more efficient, and it gives you credibility.To become a more realistic thinker, you must: 1. appreciate the truth, 2. do your homework and get the facts, 3. think through the pros and cons, 4. consider the worst-case scenario, and 5. align your thinking with your resources.


At the end of the day, it’s important to remember we can all change the way we think

“Learning how to master the process of thinking well leads you to productive thinking. If you can develop the discipline of good thinking and turn it into a lifetime habit, then you will be successful and productive all of your life.”


Source Taken From The Book : How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life



  1. Great Article! They’re so many good tips in this article that are not obvious and common sense. Thanks for the tips. On a side note, do you have any advice on how to meet friends that don’t “follow the status quo.” ? I’m a college student, and I want to meet more people that are creative and ambitious, because I know that will make learning and thinking more efficient for everyone in the group.

  2. It’s really true. This article is very potential to us for self motivation. I am very happy to read this article. I hope i can learn how to success.

  3. una victoria segura es aprender de los errores de los demas y el fracaso mas duro es no aprender algo de los tuyos.

    • hi
      this is prem raj bhatt from active academy college.
      from above article we can learn future is not important but present is most important. if u have courage,commitment and continuity definitely u must achieve your goal.
      happy day

  4. Hi

    Yes, No need to think further on the above points , just follow and use it in practical situation to get good returns.

    Happy day

    thank you

  5. This is a great article. It’s very interesting. I’ll practice these one by one, so I can see and think about the world differently. Some I’ve been already trying doing, but I’ve learned some important things, too. Thanks for the work.

  6. Excellent article ! It’s very interesting to see all these points written down. I’m not great yet or exceptiona and still going through the ups and downs of small business but have allways practiced in my own waymost of the things in the article which is very reassuring. Thanks

  7. A great article. This way of thinking guides my life and sometimes I doubt if change it for another way, and after I read articles like this, I’ve more confidence in myself because great people think in this way.

  8. Great post A2S.

    To comment on the guy before me. Are you joking Ernesto? Everything you said is already covered in this article.

    Where is the Theme “how to get rich”, In this article? Maybe you should read some more articles on here and you will understand the theme, it is to be successful in all areas of life, not just money.

    These good websites always have to be trolled by someone don’t they.

  9. I think this is just another popular article for the theme ‘how to get rich’, with doesnt help. Majority of these points are simply not the key.
    If you want to be succesful:
    – You need to be prepared to lose many times and handle lot of stress
    – You need to do things, which are in demand and which you are good at
    – You need to do it because you like to do, not because you want to earn from that.
    If you want to be successful, dont lose time by reading such articles or books as this one and start doing something real. Experience is best teacher.

  10. This is quite interesting to learn actually a person to be productive , one needs to change the way one thinks and take a step to critical Analise what thought he or she has what are the repercussions of the action taken about such a thought but all in all risk taker are ever successful.

  11. Great thoughts. Except for the first one. Don’t agree that multitasking reduces efficiency. May be I am thinking with a woman’s mind but look at all the Moms of the world – they are all wonderful at multitasking!

  12. This is fantastic! It helps to bring clarity and substance to information and ideas you already know but have not yet formulated into manageable steps.

    Thank you!

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