11 Thinking Skills of Successful People

March 12, 2012 by  
Filed under Personal

John C. Maxwell, well-known leadership expert, speaker and author of the book, How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life, finds that all successful people have one thing in common – they think differently from unsuccessful people. He shares that good thinkers are successful and that you can change your thinking to change your life.

In his book, John highlights 11 thinking skills to help you become a better thinker:

1. Cultivate Big-Picture Thinking

Big-picture thinking involves wholeness, maturity, and perspective, and helps you to size up situations and connect future with the past, and to make better and timely decisions.

How to have big-picture thinking:

  • Don’t strive for certainty
  • Learn from every experience
  • Gain insight from a variety of people
  • Give yourself permission to expand your world

2. Engage in Focused Thinking

Focused thinking enables you to remove distractions and mental clutter, think clearly, solve problems, and achieve greatness.

How to stay focused:

  • Remove distractions
  • Make time for focused thinking
  • Keep items of focus before you
  • Set goals
  • Question your progress

3. Harness Creative Thinking

Creative thinking adds value, helps you see through new eyes and explore new ideas and solutions, and challenges the status quo.

How to discover creative thinking:

  • Remove creativity killers
  • Think creatively by asking the right questions
  • Develop a creative environment
  • Spend time with other creative people
  • Get out of your box

4. Employ Realistic Thinking

Realistic thinking helps you to minimize consequences and risks, define your targets and plans, and provide security, credibility and stability.

How to improve realistic thinking:

  • Develop an appreciation for truth
  • Do your homework
  • Think through the pros and cons
  • Picture the worst-case scenario
  • Align your thinking with your resources

5. Utilize Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking helps you to plan and reduce errors, become more efficient and maximize your strengths, and give you influence with others.

How to release the power of strategic thinking:

  • Break down the issue
  • Ask why before how
  • Identify the real issues and objectives
  • Review your resources
  • Develop your plan
  • Put the right people in the right place
  • Keep repeating the process

6. Explore Possibility Thinking

Possibility thinking opens yourself to many other possibilities, draws opportunities and people to you, allows you to dream big dreams, gives you energy and keeps you from giving up.

How to feel the energy of possibility thinking:

  • Stop focusing on the impossibilities
  • Stay away from the “experts”
  • Look for possibilities in every situation
  • Dream one size bigger
  • Question the status quo
  • Find inspiration from great achievers

7. Learn From Reflective Thinking

Reflective thinking gives you true perspective, emotional maturity, confidence in decision-making, and clarifies the big picture.

How to increase your ability to think reflectively:

  • Set aside time for reflection
  • Remove yourself from distractions
  • Regularly review your calendar or journal
  • Ask the right questions
  • Cement your learning through action

8. Question Popular Thinking

Popular thinking sometimes means not thinking and slow to embrace change, offers false hope, and brings average results.

How to question popular thinking:

  • Think before you follow
  • Appreciate thinking different from your own
  • Continually question your own thinking
  • Try new things in new ways
  • Get used to being uncomfortable

9. Benefit From Shared Thinking

Shared thinking is about valuing the thoughts and ideas of others, and has greater value and innovation than solo thinking.

How to harness shared thinking:

  • Value the ideas of others
  • Move from competition to cooperation
  • Have an agenda when you meet
  • Get the right people around the table
  • Compensate good thinkers and collaborators well

10. Practice Unselfish Thinking

Unselfish thinking brings personal fulfillment, adds value to others, increases quality of life, and you gain the opportunity to create a legacy that will outlive you.

How to experience the satisfaction of unselfish thinking:

  • Put others first
  • Expose yourself to situations where people have needs
  • Give quietly or anonymously
  • Invest in people intentionally
  • Continually check your motives

11. Rely on Bottom-line Thinking

Bottom-line thinking provides greater clarity, helps you assess every situation, and allows you to allocate resources to achieve the bottom-line.

How to be a bottom-line thinker:

  • Identify the real bottom line
  • Make the bottom line the point
  • Create a strategic plan to achieve the bottom line
  • Align team members with the bottom line
  • Stick with one system and monitor results continually

Buy the How Successful People Think: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life book.

Check out John C. Maxwell’s other books:

Images: Amazon

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