How Successful People Think - Peter Boolkah

Successful individuals possess a unique mindset that separates them from the crowd. So, what sets them apart? What’s the blueprint of their thought processes? Understanding this could be the key to unlocking your own potential. In the realm of business, it is often said that your mindset can be your most powerful tool or your greatest enemy.

Now, let me share the secret sauce—the mindset of success, a fascinating exploration into the psychological make-up of top performers. In the words of the great author John Maxwell: “Where success is concerned, people are not measured in inches, or pounds, or college degrees, or family background; they are measured by the size of their thinking.”

This journey will be akin to peering into the minds of these high achievers, not merely to marvel at their feats, but to glean insights that can propel us on our own paths to success. Buckle up as we dive headfirst into the world of successful thinking!

How Successful People Think - Peter Boolkah

The Eleven Types of Thinking, as Defined by John Maxwell

As we delve deeper into the mental landscape of successful individuals, the book How Successful People Think Workbook: Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life by John C Maxwell is one of the best reads out there. Maxwell, a leadership expert, founder of EQUIP and the John Maxwell Company, organizations that have trained more than 5 million leaders worldwide, and a bestselling author with million copies sold, has distilled the cognitive patterns of high achievers into eleven discernible types.

These aren’t haphazard musings; instead, they represent systematic strategies that help people expand their thinking and achieve their dreams. In today’s fast-paced world, it’s imperative to closely examine these eleven thinking types, as they constitute an essential component of the intellectual toolkit wielded by those who thrive. Here are the 11 thinking strategies as outlined in How Successful People Think by John C Maxwell.

1. Big Picture Thinking

Big picture thinking is the ability to see beyond the immediate, to perceive the broader landscape surrounding a situation or problem. It’s about understanding the context, the macro view. Successful people leverage this type of thinking to craft strategic plans, envisage the long-term impact of their actions, and align their goals with broader objectives.

They don’t get lost in the weeds of the day-to-day; rather, they rise above it, always seeing the big picture. This expansive perspective serves as an anchor, ensuring their actions are purposeful, directed, and contributing to a greater vision.

2. Focused Thinking

Focused thinking pertains to the ability to concentrate on a single issue or task with unwavering attention. Successful individuals start thinking this way to explore problems in-depth, eliminating distractions to devote their mental energy entirely to the task at hand.

It’s about drilling down to the minute details, understanding all facets of an issue, and not resting until the job is complete. This focused thinking time enables them to achieve quality outcomes and maintain high productivity levels, even amidst the chaos of a bustling work environment.

3. Creative Thinking

Creative thinking revolves around the capacity to think outside the box, venture beyond conventional boundaries, and explore novel solutions. Successful thinkers who are proficient in this thinking form are the disruptors and innovators whose unique perspectives catalyse change. They dare to challenge the status quo, question established norms and re-imagine possibilities.

This daring curiosity fosters creativity, propelling them to design innovative strategies, products, and services that set them apart in a competitive landscape. Creative thinking, therefore, is a key influencer of success, fuelling progress and facilitating the birth of groundbreaking ideas.

4. Realistic Thinking

Realistic thinking is the ability to see things as they truly are, not as we wish them to be. It’s about grounding ideas in reality and acknowledging practical constraints. Successful thinkers are always using this thinking style to assess feasibility, identify potential roadblocks, and devise strategies accordingly. This pragmatic approach enables them to make informed decisions, manage risks effectively, and navigate the path to success with greater certainty and confidence. Far from being pessimistic, realistic thinkers are practical visionaries who turn dreams into tangible realities.

5. Strategic Thinking

Strategic thinking is a good thinking strategy that involves forming a thorough and systematic approach toward achieving long-term goals. It’s about envisioning the future, considering multiple pathways, and choosing the most effective route forward. .Successful people use this thinking style extensively, charting out each step, anticipating challenges, and preparing contingency plans. They don’t just react to situations, but proactively shape their future, armed with a well-crafted strategy. It’s this ability to think ahead and plan meticulously that often sets them apart, fuelling their journey to success.

6. Possibility Thinking

Possibility thinking is all about opening up the mind to a world of ‘what ifs’. It’s the ability to see beyond the obvious and explore a plethora of potential opportunities. Successful people harness this type of thinking to unlock fresh possibilities and discern opportunities where others see none. They ask thought-provoking questions, challenge assumptions, and encourage the investigation of different scenarios.

This optimistic and imaginative outlook enables them to turn challenges into stepping stones for growth and transform seemingly insurmountable obstacles into exciting opportunities. This belief in infinite possibilities often propels them to innovate, disrupt, and ultimately succeed where others might falter.

7. Reflective Thinking

Reflective thinking is the practice of introspection, a mental stock-taking of past actions, decisions, and their outcomes. Successful individuals use this thinking style to learn from experience, gleaning valuable insights from their successes and failures alike.

This continual process of self-evaluation fosters improvement, aids in the development of better strategies, and helps avoid repeating past mistakes. It is this willingness to reflect and adapt that contributes significantly to their journey towards success.

8. Popular Thinking

Popular thinking is about aligning with the general consensus or mainstream thought. It revolves around the understanding of societal norms, prevalent ideologies, and trends. Successful individuals adept at this form of thinking are perceptive to the pulse of the public, allowing them to make decisions that resonate with a larger audience.

They know when to go with the flow and when to challenge popular opinion for the greater good. While this type of thinking encourages adaptability and inclusivity, it also requires discernment to prevent conformity from stifling innovation and personal integrity. By balancing the need to fit in with the courage to stand out, successful people utilise popular thinking to its fullest, moulding public opinion while respecting collective wisdom.

9. Shared Thinking

Shared thinking is the act of pooling together collective insights, wisdom, and experiences to solve problems or create value. Successful people understand that two heads are indeed better than one. They seek out diverse perspectives, foster open communication, and encourage collaboration. This collective intelligence approach engenders a richer understanding of situations, drives innovative solutions, and promotes inclusivity. By leveraging shared thinking, successful individuals cultivate a culture of teamwork, ensuring everyone’s voice is heard and valued.

10. Unselfish Thinking

Unselfish thinking is the ability to think beyond oneself, placing the welfare of others and the larger good above personal gain. It’s about empathy, compassion, and a selfless commitment to collective progress. Successful people demonstrate this style of thinking by investing in their teams, sharing credit, acknowledging others’ contributions, and fostering a culture of mutual respect and support. They understand that success is not a solitary journey but a collective endeavour.

An unselfish thinker not only uplifts others but also enriches their own character, fostering a work environment that celebrates collaboration, inclusivity, and shared accomplishments. Unselfish thinking, therefore, is a key attribute of success, cultivating fruitful relationships and fostering an atmosphere of mutual growth.

11. Bottom Line Thinking

Bottom line thinking is focused on results, the end goal. It’s the ability to cut through the noise, bypass the unnecessary, and concentrate on what truly matters – the outcome. Successful individuals, more often than not, are bottom-line thinkers. They’re always conscious of their objectives, making every decision, and every action count towards achieving these set goals. They ask themselves, “What’s the end goal here?” before embarking on a task. This laser-like focus helps them steer away from distractions, maintain efficiency, and conserve valuable resources.

Whilst this approach might seem ruthless and single-minded to some, it’s this unwavering commitment to their goals that often fuels their journey to success. It’s important to remember, however, that while bottom-line thinking accelerates success, it should always be balanced with ethical considerations and empathy toward others. After all, true success is about achieving goals without compromising on values and the well-being of others.

Bonus: Big-Picture Thinking

Big-picture thinking involves the ability to see things from a broader perspective, to understand the interconnectedness of various elements, and to appreciate the larger context in which actions and decisions take place. This type of thinking facilitates a holistic view, allowing successful individuals to grasp the overarching narrative, navigate complexities, and identify the potential ripple effects of their decisions. It enables them to anticipate trends, foresee challenges, and plan strategically for the future.

Big-picture thinkers don’t get lost in the weeds but instead, they keep their eyes on the horizon, constantly aligning their actions with their ultimate vision. This ability to think long-term, to connect the dots, and to maintain a bird’s eye view of their journey often sets successful people apart. It helps them have a sense of purpose, maintain focus amidst distractions and complexities, and steer their journey toward success with unwavering resolve.

Change Your Thinking & Change Your Life

Bestselling Tips to Change Your Thinking & Change Your Life

As we venture into the bestselling tips to transform your thinking and change your life, it’s crucial to remember that your thought patterns influence every area of your life. This journey isn’t just about your professional success or your business prowess; it’s about cultivating an empowering mindset that permeates all aspects of your life.

Creating a unique place to think is key to this transformation, a mental refuge immune to the hectic pace of life, where you can reflect, focus, and strategize. Read on to discover how you can harness the power of positive and strategic thinking to revolutionise your world.

Expose Yourself to Different Ideas and Types of People

Broadening your horizons by exposing yourself to diverse ideas and people can have a transformative impact on your thinking and ultimately, your life. It challenges your preconceived notions and biases, fostering an open mind and stimulating intellectual growth.

Engaging with a variety of cultures and perspectives enhances your understanding of the world, cultivating empathy, respect, and a global outlook. It prompts you to question, explore and ultimately grow beyond your comfort zone. Furthermore, this exposure fuels innovation, as the cross-pollination of ideas often sparks creativity and leads to groundbreaking solutions.

Plan Ahead, But Leave Some Room for Spontaneity

Planning ahead is key to achieving success as it creates a roadmap for your journey. It enables you to clarify your goals, prioritize tasks, and allocate resources efficiently. However, a rigid adherence to plans can stifle creativity and hinder opportunities that arise unexpectedly.

It’s equally important to maintain some room for spontaneity. This balance allows for the exploration of new ideas, innovative solutions, and unanticipated prospects that could steer you toward even greater success. So, while you should remain focused on your objectives, remember to stay open and adaptable to change, as the path to success is often a winding one.

Be an Active Participant in Your Own Thinking

Being an active participant in your own thinking is pivotal to success. It is about consciously steering your thoughts, challenging assumptions, and cultivating a mindset that fosters growth. Successful individuals don’t just absorb information passively; they question, critique, and actively shape their thought processes.

They harness the power of introspection to understand their strengths, recognise their biases, and pinpoint areas for development. This conscious engagement with their own thinking allows them to learn from experiences, adapt to change, and drive their actions with intentionality. After all, your thoughts shape your reality and actively participating in your own thinking means taking the reins of your life and steering it toward success.

Regularly Try Out and Do Different Things

Regularly trying out and doing different things is an essential trait of successful individuals. It fosters adaptability, a crucial skill in today’s rapidly evolving world. These individuals understand the value of stepping out of their comfort zones and embracing the unfamiliar.

This approach not only broadens their horizons but also fuels creativity and innovation, as new experiences offer fresh perspectives and learning opportunities. Whether it’s taking on a new project, learning a new skill, or even adopting a new hobby, these experiences inject variety and dynamism into their lives, keeping them stimulated and open to new possibilities.

Become Intentional About the Thinking Process

Successful individuals make a habit of practicing intentional thinking. It’s not about thinking more but thinking better, with purpose and clarity. Go to your thinking place and practice deliberate and mindful thinking, where every thought is directed toward a defined goal or a planned course of action, rather than letting the mind wander aimlessly.

Intentional thinking encourages productive thoughts and minimises unnecessary mental clutter. It empowers individuals to align their thoughts with their actions, leading to effective decision-making and improved outcomes.

Value Other People’s Ideas

Valuing other people’s ideas is a cornerstone of success, promoting a culture of mutual respect and collaboration. Successful individuals recognise the potential of diverse perspectives in sparking creativity and innovation, thereby driving growth and progress.

They understand that great ideas can come from anyone, regardless of their role or experience, and cultivate an open, inclusive environment that encourages dialogue and idea exchange. By valuing others’ ideas, they not only enrich their own understanding and perspective but also foster a sense of empowerment and engagement among their peers, enhancing collective performance and success.

Get Over Negative Self Talk & Think Good Thoughts

It’s easy to get caught in negative self-talk. This can be a significant barrier, often leading to self-doubt and hindering progress. Overcoming it and promoting positive thought can help you improve your thinking overall.

Successful individuals are mindful of their inner dialogue and make a conscious effort to counteract negativity with positive, empowering thoughts. They understand that constructive thinking plays a crucial role in shaping their reality and influencing their actions.

They actively practice positive self-affirmation and visualisation techniques to replace self-deprecating thoughts with ones that inspire confidence and resilience. Moreover, they recognise that setbacks and failures are part of the journey, viewing them as opportunities for learning and growth rather than as insurmountable hurdles. By consistently choosing good thoughts over negative self-talk, they foster a positive mindset, enabling them to navigate challenges and stride confidently toward their goals.

Question Popular Thinking

Questioning popular thinking is a common trait among successful individuals. This means not merely accepting established ideas or prevalent opinions, but challenging them, scrutinising their validity, and exploring alternate perspectives. It’s about daring to think differently, to venture beyond the conventional, and to embrace the possibility of uncharted intellectual territories. Successful people understand that popular thinking, while often beneficial, might not always serve their unique needs or the demands of their specific situation.

They appreciate the value of diversity in thought and recognise that breakthroughs often result from divergent thinking and innovation. This doesn’t mean discarding all popular thought, but rather evaluating it critically, adapting what is useful, and discarding what isn’t. By questioning the status quo, they pave the way for novel ideas, continuous learning, and personal growth, which are integral to achieving success.

Put Your Thoughts Into Action

Success is not just about thinking big; it’s about acting on those thoughts. Successful individuals understand that thoughts without action are fleeting and unproductive. They recognise the value of transforming their thoughts into tangible actions. Whether it’s setting a new goal, implementing a strategy, or taking the first step towards a dream, these actions are the embodiment of their thoughts.

They are mindful of the gap that often exists between thought and action and are committed to bridging this through decisive, purposeful action. Moreover, they understand that actions give the weight and credibility of their thoughts, turning abstract ideas into concrete realities. By putting their thoughts into action, they convert potential into progress, propelling themselves towards their objectives with determination and tenacity. Hence, the practice of converting thoughts into actions is not just about achieving success; it’s about embracing a proactive and fulfilling way of life.


The path to success lies as much in the realm of the mind as it does in the world of actions. Successful individuals cultivate a unique perspective, embodying adaptability, intentionality, inclusivity, positivity, originality, and action-oriented thinking. They understand that the way they think not only shapes their perspective of the world but also influences their actions and decisions.

By proactively managing their thoughts, they can navigate the journey toward success with greater confidence, resilience, and effectiveness. Remember, every journey begins with a single step, but it’s the continuous, intentional steps that lead us to our destination. Embrace these principles of successful thinking and step forward on your journey to success.


Are good thinkers born or made?

Good thinkers are both born and made. While certain people might naturally possess a more analytical or critical mindset, thinking skills can definitely be developed and honed over time. Just like any other skill, it requires practice and conscious effort. By engaging in activities that challenge and stimulate the mind, we can foster greater mental agility, improve our problem-solving capabilities, and enhance our capacity for innovative thought.

It’s never too late to begin nurturing your thinking skills. So, while some individuals might have a head start, everyone has the potential to become a good thinker with diligence, persistence, and the right approach.

Can thinking big lead to success?

Absolutely, thinking big can indeed lead to success. Successful people often set high, seemingly unattainable goals for themselves. This ‘big thinking’ inspires them to step out of their comfort zones, explore new possibilities, and persist in the face of obstacles. It fosters a mindset of abundance and possibility, rather than scarcity and limitation.

However, it’s important to note that big thinking must be matched with consistent, purposeful action. Merely thinking big without implementing strategies or taking steps to realise those thoughts can lead to frustration and stagnation. Therefore, while thinking big can serve as a powerful catalyst for success, it is the joint force of big thinking and meaningful action that truly propels individuals toward achieving their goals.

How successful people think quotes?

  • “The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” – Nelson Mandela
  • “Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” – Albert Schweitzer
  • “The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon
  • “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” – John D. Rockefeller
  • “I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” – Thomas Jefferson
  • “Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.” – Henry David Thoreau
  • “Opportunities don’t happen. You create them.” – Chris Grosser
  • “Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.” – Conrad Hilton
  • “Successful and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to reach their potential.” – John Maxwell
  • “A person who knows how may always have a job, but the person who knows why will always be his boss.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “You can act your way into feeling long before you can feel your way into action. If you wait until you feel like doing something, you will likely never accomplish it.” – John Maxwell
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