Book Review: How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell

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If you want a book that’s easy to read and can help you improve your thinking skills and become more successful, “How Successful People Think” by John C. Maxwell is a great choice!

Maxwell, a renowned expert on leadership in the United States, provides valuable tips and strategies for boosting creativity, challenging conventional thinking, and maintaining focus. The book teaches you how to unleash your creative potential, collaborate with others to generate new ideas, and learn from the past to prepare for the future.

The book outlines eleven essential principles for personal success and reaching your full potential. It’s a Wall Street Journal bestseller, and this review will give you a good idea of everything you can learn from it. So let’s dive in!

Key Insights

Lesson 1: People who take a broad view of things are constantly learning and possess empathy.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, highlights the significance of nurturing relationships with clients instead of solely concentrating on individual transactions. He advocates for a long-term success strategy that encompasses a comprehensive outlook, and one method to achieve this is by consistently pursuing knowledge and exploring new avenues for growth.

To foster a holistic mindset, consider implementing this straightforward daily routine: every morning, examine your agenda and pinpoint any potential learning opportunities that may present themselves. This practice can encourage you to embrace novel experiences and heighten your awareness of your surroundings.

For instance, if you find yourself dining with a National Football League coach, seize the opportunity to ask questions and absorb as much information as possible. By evolving into a big picture thinker, you can acquire valuable insights into how others perceive the world and develop greater empathy towards them.

This heightened understanding can assist you in recognizing the desires and requirements of those around you, be it clients, family members, or friends. Taking into account the interests of others not only broadens your own perspective but also enables you to think beyond your immediate concerns. In doing so, you can forge stronger connections and achieve lasting success in both your personal and professional life.

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Lesson 2: Be practical and do your research to establish and attain specific goals.

In our lives, we often have aspirations and dreams that we long to achieve. However, reality is the distinction between these desires and the actual outcomes. For us to thrive in the real world, it’s crucial to establish objectives and create a roadmap to accomplish them. This is where the power of realistic thinking comes into play.

Consider a business owner who maintains an overly optimistic outlook on their company’s future without a well-structured plan. This lack of strategy can result in the business’s downfall. In contrast, realistic thinking fosters effective leadership. By acknowledging the truth and articulating your goals, you can devise a strategy to attain them.

Realistic thinking also enables you to streamline complex issues by concentrating on facts and discarding unnecessary details and impractical expectations. If you tend to be optimistic by nature, it’s essential to thoroughly research and gather all the relevant information before making any decisions. This involves setting aside biases and embracing the facts instead of relying on assumptions.

When faced with a specific challenge, it’s beneficial to explore how others have tackled similar situations. There’s no need to develop an entirely unique solution – often, the most ingenious ideas stem from scrutinizing the approaches taken by others in the past. By adopting realistic thinking and learning from others’ experiences, you can navigate the complex journey of life with greater confidence and success.

Lesson 3: Think selflessly to contribute to something greater than yourself.

Embracing a selfless mindset has the potential to not only transform your life but also reshape your perception of success. When we choose to help others, we often experience a profound sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that can be life-changing.

A striking example of this is Alfred Nobel’s story. After catching a glimpse of his own obituary in the newspaper, which emphasized the harmful consequences of his invention – dynamite – on human lives, Nobel underwent a profound transformation. This eye-opening experience prompted him to dedicate his life to promoting peace. As a result, in 1895, the prestigious Nobel Prize was established to honor exceptional accomplishments across various disciplines.

Similarly, the pharmaceutical giant Merck and Company showcased the impact of selfless thinking in the 1980s. After developing a cure for the devastating river blindness disease, the company made a groundbreaking decision to prioritize people over profits by providing the life-saving medication for free to those who needed it the most.

These inspiring stories teach us a valuable lesson: being part of something positive and meaningful is far more fulfilling and rewarding than solely pursuing personal gain. When we adopt an unselfish mindset, we not only make a difference in the lives of others but also enrich our own, paving the way for a more compassionate and successful life.

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Lesson 4: Collaborating with others, regardless of their background, can enhance your thinking abilities.

Ever found yourself in a situation where you needed to learn a new skill? What approach did you take—going it alone or seeking the guidance of someone who had already mastered it? If you opted for the former, you might want to reconsider. Generally, it’s far more efficient and effective to learn from someone who has already gained proficiency in the skill you’re after, whether it’s whipping up a new culinary creation, perfecting your golf swing, or navigating a piece of software.

Innovation frequently springs from collaboration and shared thinking, rather than solitary contemplation. Contrary to the widespread notion that groundbreaking ideas are born from lone geniuses, research indicates that innovative breakthroughs often emerge when people join forces.

Take Einstein, for example, who acknowledged the contributions of others in his own accomplishments. Similarly, famous duos like Pierre and Marie Curie or Paul McCartney and John Lennon achieved greatness through their collaborative efforts.

To excel as a collaborator, it’s crucial to adopt the right mindset. This involves being receptive to valuable ideas from any source, no matter how improbable it may seem, and embracing a cooperative attitude over a competitive one. In meetings with coworkers, concentrate on fulfilling the team’s objectives, rather than solely pursuing personal gains.

Keep in mind that sometimes the most remarkable ideas originate from unlikely sources, such as a cab driver or even your own children. So, be sure to lend an ear to everyone and cast aside any preconceived notions you may have.


1. Engaging and Relatable Content

One of the major pros of “How Successful People Think” is John C. Maxwell’s ability to weave life stories into the topics discussed. This not only keeps the reader engaged but also makes the content enjoyable and relatable.

Reading the book feels like having a friendly conversation with a personal mentor who shares stories of success, making the lessons easy to digest and internalize. Each chapter has the potential to change one’s thinking for the better and help identify areas of weakness in one’s thought process that need improvement.

2. Valuable Advice for Business and Personal Growth

The book offers practical advice that can be applied to both personal and professional aspects of life. For instance, the chapter on “Relaying on Bottom-Line Thinking” has been impactful for readers who are starting their own businesses.

By focusing on the purpose, such as teaching families to be financially independent and make sensible financial decisions, readers can see that profits will follow. Additionally, the book encourages readers to grow in their careers by seeking ideas from others, recognizing that successful people need a variety of perspectives to excel.

3. Challenging the Status Quo and Taking Action

John C. Maxwell has a knack for simplifying complex topics, making them accessible to a wide audience. In “How Successful People Think,” he emphasizes the importance of challenging the status quo and putting ideas into action.

Through anecdotes and personalized stories, he brings his points to life and inspires readers to make a difference in their organizations, whether it be a school, business, church, or even a family. The ultimate challenge presented by the book is to move beyond thinking and take action, leading to tangible improvements in various aspects of life.

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1. Lack of a Clear Game Plan

While the book emphasizes the importance of changing one’s mindset and thinking positively, it could benefit from providing a clearer game plan and more direct examples of how to apply these new ways of thinking to real-life situations.

Some readers may feel that the book falls short in offering practical guidance on how to take action and make a noticeable difference in their lives. Although it does touch on application, it may not be enough for those looking for a comprehensive guide on how to change their thinking and achieve success.

2. Brevity Limits Depth

Due to its small size and brevity, “How Successful People Think” may not delve as deeply into certain topics as some readers might hope. While the book can be read in a single sitting and offers some valuable advice, its concise nature might leave readers feeling that some areas are not explored in depth.

While it serves as a good starting point, some readers may need to turn to additional resources to gain a more thorough understanding of how to apply the concepts presented in the book.

3. Ineffective and Overwhelming Variety of Thinking Styles

The book teaches several different ways of thinking, which can be both overwhelming and ineffective for some readers. By presenting a wide variety of thinking styles, the book may inadvertently dilute the importance of focused, specific, and effective thinking that is crucial to achieving success.

Moreover, some readers have found the presentation of the information to be more like an expanded outline rather than a well-developed book, with content that can be difficult to digest all at once. This style may not be appealing to those who prefer more in-depth, fleshed-out explanations and guidance.


“How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life” by John C. Maxwell is a powerful and transformative book that provides valuable insights into the thinking process. With its engaging content and relatable life stories, it successfully holds the reader’s interest and offers a friendly, mentor-like conversation. Each chapter has the potential to improve the reader’s thinking, allowing them to recognize weaknesses and make necessary changes.

The book’s impact is evident in real-life scenarios, such as the chapter on “Relay on Bottom-Line Thinking,” which has proven helpful for those starting their own businesses. By focusing on the main objective of helping families achieve financial independence, readers can shift their priorities and find success.

Overall, this 5-star book is a must-read for anyone looking to transform their thinking, inspire themselves and others, and achieve their goals in both personal and professional life.

About The Author

John C. Maxwell is a popular author, coach, and speaker who has sold over 24 million books in 50 languages.

He’s considered America’s top leadership authority and was named the world’s most popular leadership expert by Inc. magazine in 2014.

For six years in a row, he has also been recognized as the top leadership professional on

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Buy The Book: How Successful People Think

If you want to buy the book How Successful People Think, you can get it from the following links:

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