Book Review – The Magic of Thinking Big

The Magic of Thinking Big
David J. Schwartz, Ph.D.
Simon & Schuster Audio
Published January 1st 1986 (first published in 1959)


The Magic of Thinking Big gives you useful methods, not empty promises. Dr. Schwartz presents a carefully designed program for getting the most out of your job, your marriage and family life, and your community. He proves that you don’t need to be an intellectual or have innate talent to attain great success and satisfaction, but you do need to learn and understand the habit of thinking and behaving in ways that will get you there. ~via Goodreads



When we start diving into books about success, we inevitably encounter some common, inescapable truths. What success looks like to us may change, but the path and the mindset to get there stays the same. Some aspects of The Magic of Thinking Big may sound dated, but the core of this book is as true today as it was when it was first published in 1959. We make our own path to success. We have to stop imposing limits on ourselves. We need to trust in our own abilities. We need to engage with other people. We must lead by example. We must believe.

Listening this audiobook reminds me of some of the other early greats in the field. TV and radio broadcasts from Earl Nightengale and Napoleon Hill had a very similar feel, and with Schwartz’s experience as a motivational speaker, it maintains a certain effortless captivation. The author’s narration has an old time radio feel that kept me interested throughout the work. The anicdotes were well placed and felt genuine, but they were the one piece that really seemed to have that certain 80’s flair. I am not sure if you can technically “hear” the wide ties, mustashes, and combovers… but I can feel them in my bones.

The message in The Magic of Thinking Big is timeless, and its key points are reflected in modern works today. The difference here is a much heavier focus on suggestions for implementing and the physical steps that you can take with yourself. Modern works from Tony Robins or Jen Sincero do mention physical implementation, but the real thrust is in your attitudes and perceptions. This work tends to be slanted the other direction. The Magic of Thinking Big does talk about changing your mode of thinking, but tended to lean more heavily on how to manifest this change.

The book’s limitations, I believe, are based on its age and the point of view of the author. It speaks specifically to men, as was the norm when it was first published in 1959. As long as the reader can see past this historical tone, the wisdom it imparts is not gender specific. The other, possibly larger, limitation would be that it seems to be written to individuals with traditional office jobs. This wouldn’t bother me so much if the work was not so slanted towards implementation of change. Executives, salesmen, and office workers looking to get past the office politics and improve their situations should see no issue. However, tradesmen and the self employed will have to translate the implementation advice to their own situations. Again, looking past this, I believe that everyone can benefit from the core message of this book and implement its teachings in whatever way is appropriate to your situation.

The Magic of Thinking Big is considered a classic in the motivational space, and I can see why. It hits many of the same key points that we hear from modern works, but it does so from the late 50’s. It tells us that we must think and dream big in order to get big results. It tells us that many times the effort involved in thinking big is the same as thinking small, but with vastly different results. With the speed of technical and business evolution, it is often hard for older works to stay relevant. The Magic of Thinking Big stays relevant and ages well coming from a time when computer hard drives were made of 39 inch wide magnesium disks.

I have given this work 3 stars as it still holds its inescapable truth, even if the reader must embark on some translation to a more modern context.

I'd love to hear from you!