August 2015

How To Think Big At Work (And Life)

2015-08-12T15:48:09-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: , |

“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.

August 2010

How To Manage Problems You Can’t Fix

2011-04-14T01:55:47-04:00 Categories: SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , , |

Problems. Challenges. Opportunities.

Whatever you call them at your company, we want them fixed. Our gut reaction is – come hell or high water – to find a solution. However, there are times when there is no fix… You’re stuck with it.

For example, your business may be experiencing a challenge with the current “economic condition” in the United States. The challenge with the downturn/recession is that as an individual business there is not a lot you can do. You have to deal with it and wait it out.

Another time when we face challenges beyond our power, is when doing SWOT analysis. You can manage the Strengths, and Weaknesses and you can exploit the Opportunities. However, the Threats are out of your control… you’re stuck with their reality.

So, what can you do?

Your options are to…

  • find a way to live with the problem, or
  • find ways to flip the situation so it is seen as an asset versus a deficit.

(1) Living with the Problem

At first, this sounds fatalistic; not a ‘victory’ situation. However, the realization that you can’t fix something can be liberating. It frees you to focus resources on things you can change. You manage recognizing the problem is simply part of your playing field.

(2) Flip from Deficit to Asset

A second option is to find a way to work the problem to your benefit. Change the deficit to an asset. This is called asset-based thinking.* Okay, so customer traffic has slowed at your business, maybe this is your opportunity to shift your model from a focus on quantity to quality. Instead of relying on new customers from new traffic, perhaps you should look at your existing satisfied customer base. Can you reconnect with them and create higher satisfaction and incremental sales? There are a slew of approaches once you turn the problem on its head.

Brian Clegg and Paul Birch in their book Instant Creativity recommend examining your situation in two stages to “make your problem state desirable.”

Ask first:

  • How could you change the world to live with this problem?
    (This creates your first set of solutions)

and then:

  • How could you change the world so the problem goes away?
    (This creates a second set of solutions).

They recommend taking the results of these two questions and combining to determine potential ways to manage the situation.

While not all problems can be fixed, at least you can reduce your angst and find a way to flip the problem to benefit from it.

*Incidentally, you can learn more about asset-based thinking at the “Asset-Based Thinking” website of Kathy Cramer and Hank Wasiak.

June 2009

Tips For Creativity & Problem Solving: “Live In PLAY” Interview

2017-03-01T11:56:28-04:00 Categories: grow, SandBlog, solve|Tags: , , , , , , , |

It’s always an honor when someone cares to hear your advice. It is my pleasure to share with you a BlogRadio interview I was part of on Saturday evening that featured… well… me and Idea Sandbox!

Jenny Ward, the Chief Play Activist at Playward, hosts the “Live In PLAY” talk show every Saturday afternoon at 2:30 PST. We chatted for 35 minutes or so, about… how to be creative, tips on being remarkable, and a few other fun thoughts.

Here is the interview, I hope you enjoy it!

Blog Talk Radio Logo

[RSS Readers, Click Here To Listen]

About Playward

Playward works to transform the way the world defines work, relationships and individuality – from “hard” to an adventure. Jenny is part of the play-volution, calling on new ways of how we treat ourselves and one another. Playward is bringing back the simple pleasures we are forgetting and adding more FUN to our day to day.

Check out Jenny’s site at, and her “Live In Play” BlogTalkRadio station.

Books I Mention In This Interview

During my talk with Jenny, several books were mentioned, I thought I’d provide links to them for you here.

Thank you, Jenny… It was a blast!

December 2006

Asset-Based Thinking Alphabet

2009-01-15T15:06:23-04:00 Categories: SandBlog|Tags: |

How do you take a negative situation and see it for its value versus dwelling on the potential harm?

That’s what asset-based thinking is all about… Shift your thinking to focus on the assets of a situation (what you have) versus deficit-based thinking (what you don’t have). “Small shifts make seismic differences.”

The authors of “Change The Way You See Everything: Through Asset-Based Thinking” Kathy Cramer and Hank Wasiak have put together a handy bookmark featuring an asset-based thinking (ABT) alphabet. For each letter of the alphabet they’ve identified the deficit-based way to think about something… and the asset-based way to think about it…

My favorites include… shifting from Beat-Up to Build-Up, Gotcha to Generous and Nay-Sayer to Nurturer.

ABT Alphabet

[right-click to view larger image.
Print, clip, and bring with you to meetings]

Brainstorming – The ABT Alphabet is helpful when brainstorming or when ideas are being pitched. Instead of immediately jumping on why it may NOT work… Pause before you pounce, and try to build the idea up using ABT.

Cynics in your office? – While ABT isn’t specifically designed as the remedy for cynicism, it has the power to deflate a cynic attack… Most cynics seem to have the energy to be a “devil’s advocate” – use this list to challenge them channel that energy for good versus evil.