John Maxwell  has over the years been one of my heroes. So it was a great privilege for me to be a part of this 2 minute video presentation on thinking with John in 2012.

He is one of the pre-eminent teachers on leadership in the world, with over 20 million books sold, as well as bringing his insights and expertise to many of the world’s Fortune 500 companies. Having said that, in spite of such great achievements he has managed to not lose sight of his humanity and approachability. He is a living example of the law of process at work as he has steadily and gradually developed himself as a person and teacher over the last 40 plus years.

I’ve written some initial thoughts on thinking on  a previous blog post. John further expands on this by talking about how the greatest gap between successful and unsuccessful people starts not with their results or their performance but in how they think. We have already looked at a variety of definitions of success (see How would you define success? part 1, part 2 and part 3), but it would be fair to say no matter how you define it, your thoughts will be the seeds that will determine your future outcome. Or again as John puts it:

“We are today where our thoughts have brought us. We will be tomorrow where our thoughts take us.”

That is why thoughts are so powerful. A change in thinking can lead to a paradigm shift (see part 1 and part 2 on this topic) which causes us to see the world in a completely different way, bringing about new possibilities and opportunities that we previously never thought possible.

In his book “How Successful People Think” John elaborates on 11 essential thinking skills to develop in our lives. He is keen to emphasise that this is not a manual on what to think, but how to think. Each element is potently described as follows:

  • See the wisdom of big picture thinking.  The key issue here is am I thinking beyond myself and my world so that I process ideas with a holistic perspective?
  • Engage in focussed thinking. Am I dedicated to removing distractions and mental clutter so that I can concentrate with clarity on the real issue?
  • Discover the joy of creative thinking. Am I working to break out of my ‘box’ of limitations so that I explore ideas and options to experience creative breakthroughs?
  • Recognise the importance of realistic thinking. Am I building a solid mental foundation on facts so that I can think with certainty?
  • Release the power of strategic thinking. Am I implementing strategic plans that give me direction for today and increase my potential for tomorrow?
  • Feel the energy of possibility thinking. Am I unleashing the enthusiasm of possibility thinking to find solutions for even seemingly impossible situations?
  • Embrace the lessons of reflective thinking. Am I regularly revisiting the past to gain a true perspective and think with understanding?
  • Question the acceptance of popular thinking. Am I consciously rejecting the limitations of common thinking in order to accomplish uncommon results?
  • Encourage the participation of shared thinking. Am I consistently including the heads of others to think ‘over my head’ and achieve compounding results?
  • Experience the satisfaction of unselfish thinking. Am I continually considering others and their journey in order to think with maximum collaboration?
  • Enjoy the return of bottom-line thinking. Am I staying focussed on the bottom line so that I can gain the maximum return and reap the full potential of my thinking?

I will conclude with the apostle Paul writing 2000 years ago to disciples of Christ in the city of Philipi. This is from The Message translation of the original Greek;

“Summing it all up, friends I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realised. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”

How do these ideas on thinking resonate with you?

It would be great to have your thoughts and comments below.


Details on my John Maxwell Team training is also available here.