Book Review: Get Smart by Brian Tracy

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In this book Get Smart!, acclaimed success expert and bestselling author Brian Tracy reveals simple, proven ways to tap into our natural thinking talents and abilities and make quantum leaps toward achieving our dreams.

In order to be successful, you need to think like a successful person. Find out what mental and practical habits your role models have and emulate them.

You may still be wondering if you should read the book. This book summary will tell you everything about this book so you can decide if it is worth your time.

Without further ado, let’s get started. 

Key Insights

Lesson 1: Long-term planning and fast action together pave the way to success.

Life is full of choices, and one of the most critical choices is how to approach life planning. Some people prefer to live in the moment, doing what gives them the most pleasure, while others look ahead and make preparations for the future. But which approach is preferable? According to successful people, long-term thinking is the way to go.

The ability to think ahead and consider the long-term effects of decisions is what sets successful people apart. It’s not about having a high IQ; it’s about foresight and the ability to envision and achieve one’s goals. If you want to be one of those successful people, you need to start by envisioning where you want to be in five years and planning the steps you need to take now to get there.

To do this effectively, you need to take stock of your professional and personal life, physical and financial well-being, and level of independence. Then, make the critical decisions that will help you achieve your goals. But remember, it’s not enough to come up with a great plan; you also need to put it into action.

For example, if you’re planning for a comfortable retirement, start a savings account immediately and set aside 10% to 15% of your paycheck each month. If you invest just $100 a month when you’re young, you can build a handsome fortune by the time you retire, thanks to compound interest. Neglecting long-term goals can cost you more as you age, so it’s best to start planning and taking action now.

Many people live from paycheck to paycheck, thinking only about what new car or electronic device they can afford right now. But this short-sighted approach can lead to a rude awakening when they reach retirement age. According to Forbes magazine, 66% of the 290 new billionaires in 2015 came from modest backgrounds, indicating that careful and long-term preparation is essential for success.

Don’t let short-term pleasures distract you from your long-term vision. Remember, a little planning and action today can make a significant difference in your future.

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Lesson 2: Thorough research and asking pertinent questions are critical to success.

The significance of customer demand in determining the success of a business cannot be overstated. As Forbes highlights, a product is doomed to fail if no one is interested in purchasing it. To make sure your product or service garners the desired attention, you must conduct thorough research on your target audience. Failure to do so is a one-way ticket to disappointment.

To begin your research, start by consulting others in your industry. Seek out the advice of those who have already found success in the field you wish to enter. These trailblazers can provide invaluable insights into the viability of your concept.

A simple Google search should reveal information about similar concepts, giving you a starting point for your investigation. Whenever possible, meet these experienced individuals face-to-face to gain a comprehensive understanding of the market landscape.

Once you have developed a prototype or a working model of your product, it’s time to assess its market potential. However, it’s crucial to avoid falling into the trap of confirmation bias, where you only seek out evidence supporting your pre-existing beliefs. Adopt a scientific approach to evaluating your product’s potential impact.

To do this, formulate a hypothesis regarding your product’s performance in the market and attempt to disprove it. For instance, if you’ve created an innovative laundry detergent, your hypothesis might be, “I believe people will purchase my groundbreaking laundry detergent.” Your goal is then to challenge this assumption by asking potential buyers why they might not choose your product over a competitor’s. If your offering still captures their interest after presenting counterarguments, you could be onto a winner.

It’s important to note that this method assumes honesty on your part. If you prioritize your idea or product over the truth, you may neglect essential research required for informed decision-making. Therefore, embracing an open-minded attitude that welcomes learning from mistakes and evaluating projects based on merit is crucial to your success.

Lesson 3: A clear goal can help you stay on course in a world that is constantly changing and unpredictable.

In today’s fast-paced world, we often feel overwhelmed and helpless in the face of constant change and competition. But the key to success is setting goals. Unfortunately, only about 3% of people have written goals that guide them through life. To avoid being stuck in the rat race, you need to be one of them.

To get started, take a piece of paper and write down ten things you want to accomplish in the next twelve months. Be specific, use present tense, and be optimistic. For example, instead of saying “I’ll stop eating junk food,” say “I’ll be a healthy eater.” Once you have your list, choose one goal that you really want to achieve this year. This is your “specific main purpose in life.”

Next, take another piece of paper and brainstorm at least twenty things you can do to achieve your goal. For example, if your goal is to write a novel, you might include things like “study the publishing industry” and “take a writing class.” Create a checklist from this list and start working on the first item.

The key is to do one little thing each day. By taking consistent action, you will make progress towards your goal and achieve success. Remember, goal setting is not a one-time event. It’s an ongoing process that requires continuous adjustment and refinement as circumstances change.

Having goals makes you more flexible and better able to navigate the constant stream of change in today’s world. It helps you weigh the relevance of various pieces of information and stay focused on what really matters. So don’t be one of the 97% who don’t have written goals. Start setting your goals today and become part of the top 3%.

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Lesson 4: A successful mindset in the modern world is one that can adapt and grow.

To succeed in today’s dynamic environment, it’s essential to keep up with technological developments. Take the example of Borders, once a dominant bookstore that collapsed due to its inability to adapt to the rise of e-readers like the Kindle and iPad.

To avoid falling into the same trap, it’s crucial to cultivate flexible thinking. Creative and strategic thinking in the face of radical upheaval is the hallmark of adaptability. Unlike Borders’ upper management, creative thinkers recognize the value of innovation and change.

But how do you train your brain to be more open to new ideas? The author suggests practicing “zero thinking” – a way to avoid complacency by asking yourself if what you are doing is meaningful. Specifically, ask yourself, “If I had the chance to do it all over again, would I do it?”

This question can be applied to every aspect of your life. Do you have friends who are holding you back in your development? Have you made a wrong decision in your professional or business life that you now regret? Mercilessly correcting mistakes that zero thinking leads to is essential, no matter how troubling they may seem. Admitting to yourself that you made a bad decision and accepting defeat may be painful, but it’s worth it in the end.

Letting go of things that are no longer fun or meaningful has many benefits. You’ll feel less stressed and overwhelmed, giving you more time and energy. Moreover, you’ll develop a more adaptable mindset. Your situation will improve, and you’ll be free to let go of obstacles and seize opportunities.

Lesson 5: Avoid habitual thinking and instead explore your ideas through experimentation.

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck in a rut and unable to come up with new ideas? If so, you’re not alone. Many people struggle with creative thinking, but it’s an essential skill for success in any field. Fortunately, there are techniques you can use to stimulate your creativity and break out of your routine.

One of the keys to creative thinking is being willing to take risks and learn from failures. Just like a cook who tries a new recipe and learns from mistakes, you need to be willing to try new things and figure out what went wrong when they don’t work out. This can be challenging, as some people have a mechanistic way of thinking that sees the world in black and white and avoids risk-taking for fear of ridicule.

If you want to become a more creative thinker, start by examining your current processes and looking for problems. Don’t settle for general conclusions like “not enough revenue.” Dig deeper and find the root cause, such as “people prefer your competitor’s goods.”

Once you’ve identified the issue, brainstorm possible solutions and choose the one that seems most promising. Assign someone to be responsible for implementing the solution and set performance indicators to measure its success. And always have backup plans in case your first solution doesn’t work out.

Remember that creativity takes practice and persistence. It’s not always easy to break out of old habits and try something new, but the rewards can be significant.

Successful companies are those that are willing to innovate and adapt to the changing market, so don’t be afraid to take risks and embrace new ideas. With time and effort, you can become a more creative thinker and take your business to new heights.

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1. Mental Fitness for Personal Growth and Professional Development

The key value of “Get Smart” lies in the mental fitness program recommended by Brian Tracy. He emphasizes that the brain, much like a muscle, can be substantially strengthened over time, especially when combined with sufficient rest, rigorous physical exercise, and proper nutrition.

By offering a series of simple, practical, and powerful ways of questioning and examining situations, Tracy challenges the reader to think with greater clarity, thereby making their minds stronger and more resilient.

2. GOSPA Thinking Model for Better Decision-Making

Tracy introduces the GOSPA Thinking Model, which stands for Goals, Objectives, Strategies, Priorities, and Actions. He explains that this method of thinking, coupled with carefully considering each action, dramatically improves one’s decision-making abilities.

It forces individuals to use both long-term thinking and slow thinking together, ensuring that they focus on finding the right answers to the right questions and the right solutions to the right problems.

3. Embracing Continuous Learning and Entrepreneurial Thinking

“Get Smart!” encourages readers to never stop learning and to confront skill obsolescence head-on. Tracy highlights that the bottom 80% of people rarely read books or take courses to update their skills, leading to slower income growth compared to the top 20%.

He also emphasizes the importance of adopting an entrepreneurial mindset, which involves continually upgrading skills and focusing on customer-centric thinking. By adopting this mindset, one becomes more valuable to their company and better equipped to adapt to change.


1. Repetition of Old Ideas

One of the main criticisms of “Get Smart” is that it presents nothing new for those who are familiar with Brian Tracy’s work or the self-improvement genre in general.

Many readers feel that the book is a compilation of Tracy’s previous ideas and advice, which they have already encountered multiple times in their lives. For those well-versed in Tracy’s teachings or self-improvement principles, this book might not offer any fresh insights or revelations.

2. Overemphasis on Wealth and Status

Another point of contention among some readers is the book’s focus on working long hours and making sacrifices to achieve wealth and status. Critics argue that there is more to life than pursuing material success at the expense of personal values and well-being.

While the book provides a wealth of techniques to help readers achieve their goals, its philosophy of chasing wealth and status might not resonate with everyone, especially those looking for a more balanced approach to success.

3. Lack of Originality and Substantiation

A third drawback of “Get Smart” is the lack of original ideas and the reliance on anecdotal evidence rather than hard data or research. Readers who have explored other books on productivity and effectiveness might find this book lacking in value compared to its peers.

The book’s tendency to use quotes from famous people as proof of its principles, rather than providing concrete data or real-life examples, might leave some readers questioning the credibility and effectiveness of Tracy’s advice.


Brian Tracy’s “Get Smart” offers advice that can be seen as either motivational or clichéd, depending on one’s perspective. The book’s premise, claiming that we only use 2% of our mental ability and promising to unlock the rest, is not only a tired idea but also scientifically questionable. Having said that, the book does provide some useful advice, such as setting clear goals, emulating role models, and adopting positive thinking.

While some readers might appreciate the book’s recommendations to work hard and invest early, others may find the workload daunting or the emphasis on positive thinking grating. Ultimately, the book’s content is largely similar to that of countless other self-improvement guides, with some overlap with the most repetitive positive-thinking titles.

To its credit, “Get Smart” does have some brighter moments, offering insights on overcoming mechanical thinking and providing interesting analogies. However, these redeeming qualities are interspersed with passages that verge on being meaningless or redundant.

About The Author

Brian Tracy is Chairman and CEO of Brian Tracy International, a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations.

Brian’s goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined.

Brian Tracy is the author of more than seventy books, including successful titles such as Earn What You’re Really Worth, Eat That Frog!, and The Psychology of Achievement. He is also CEO of Brian Tracy International, a San Diego-based company selling counselling on selling, leadership, self-esteem, success psychology and much more. 

Buy The Book: Get Smart!

If you want to buy the book Get Smart!, you can get it from the following links:

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