Review of "Thinking for a Change"

By John C. Maxwell
Time Warner Audio Books, 2003
Review by Christian Perring, Ph.D. on Jul 17th 2003
Thinking for a Change

John Maxwell recommends good thinking because it will make you better and more successful at your job. He cites many well-known successful people in business as examples of good thinking. Good thinking consists of several different thinking skills. He lists eleven.

  1. seeing the wisdom of big picture thinking
  2. unleashing the potential of focused thinking
  3. discovering the joy of creative thinking
  4. recognizing the importance of realistic thinking
  5. releasing the power of strategic thinking
  6. feeling the energy of possibility thinking
  7. embracing the lessons of reflective thinking
  8. questioning the acceptance of popular thinking
  9. encouraging the participation of shared thinking
  10. experiencing the satisfaction of unselfish thinking
  11. enjoying the return of bottom line thinking

He emphasizes that it take a great deal of work to change one's thinking. He gives many cases of people who have managed to change their own thinking and tries as best he can to explain what good thinking is. Different chapters address each of the eleven thinking skills.

The trouble with Maxwell's approach is that he has no good evidence that it actually helps people, beyond anecdotal, with is really worthless. What's more, there is already a whole industry of study on what counts as rational thinking, and there are college courses on critical thinking. He makes no reference to any of that work -- his approach is far closer to inspirational thinking, and is based mostly on his own experience. Whether this will be useful or not to his listeners or readers will be fairly random. It is certainly possible that some people may feel that Maxwell's practical suggestions are very helpful, but it is equally possible that people will find his approach utterly useless. Personally, Maxwell's recommendations seem to me to be a mixture of platitudes and vague suggestions, but there are occasional moments when his ideas do seem helpful. Probably the best one could hope for is that focusing on this audiobook, one forces oneself to contemplate one's own thinking, and that can be useful.

 

2003 Christian Perring. All rights reserved.

Christian Perring, Ph.D., is Chair of the Philosophy Department at Dowling College, Long Island, and editor of Metapsychology Online Review.  His main research is on philosophical issues in medicine, psychiatry and psychology.

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