Last Updated on 12 August 2015

“Where success is concerned, people are not measured in feet and inches, or pounds, or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking. How big we think, determines the size of our accomplishments.”


Great words of wisdom from David Schwartz and his book The Magic Of Thinking Big. Written 50 years ago, (even before the era that the American TV show Mad Men takes place), his words are as powerful now as I’m sure they were back then.

A concept which supports “big thinking” is asset-based thinking. Asset-based thinking (or ABT for short) is a term coined by Kathy Cramer and Hank Wasiak in their book Change The Way You See Everything: Through Asset-Based Thinking.

ABT is about focusing attention on:

  • Opportunities rather than problems.
  • Strengths more than weaknesses.
  • What can be done instead of what can’t.

Some dismiss this kind of talk as wishful thinking. The difference between wishful thinking and big thinking/ABT is that…

  1. it isn’t about making wishes (sorry, no Fairy Godmothers),
    it is truly believing it is possible and,
  2. you take ACTION on the thinking. It’s more than positive thinking, it is positive action.

Returning to Schwartz’s book, he offers examples of “phrases which create small, negative, depressing thoughts” as well as the same situation, but “discussed in a big, positive way.”

Phrases Which Create
Small, Negative Mind Images
Phrases Which Create
Big, Positive Mind Images
It’s no use, we’re whipped. We’re not whipped yet. Let’s keep trying. Here’s a new angle.
I was in that business once and failed. Never again. I went broke but it was my own fault. I’m going to try again.
I’ve tried but the product won’t sell. People don’t want it. So far I’ve not been able to sell this product. But I know it is good and I’m going to find the formula that will put it over.
The market is saturated. Imagine, 75 percent of the potential has already been sold out. Better get out. Imagine, 25 percent of the market is still not sold. Count me in. This looks big!
Their orders have been small.
Cut them off.
Their orders have been small. Let’s map out a plan for selling them more of their needs.
Five years is too long a time to spend before I’ll get into the top ranks in your company. Count me out. Five years is not really a long time. Just think, that leaves me 30 years to serve at a high level.
Competition has all the advantage. How do you expect me to sell against them? Competition is strong, there is no denying that, but no one ever has all the advantages. Let’s put our heads together and figure out a way to beat them at their own game.
Nobody will ever want that product. In its present form, it may not be saleable, but let’s consider some modifications.
Let’s wait until a recession comes along, then buy stocks. Let’s invest now. Bet on prosperity, not depression.
I’m too young (old) for the job. Being young (old) is a distinct advantage.
It won’t work, let me prove it.
The image: Dark, gloom, disappointment, grief, failure.
It will work, let me prove it.
The image: Bright, hope, success, fun, victory.


I’m sure a few of these small, negative ideas you have heard (or said) at one point or another.

There are two ways to view a situation or condition. Using phrases that produce big, positive mental images allows you to “see not just what is, but what can be.”

I believe you will create big accomplishments.