In this episode, we try a brand new format! We go through Ali's Kindle highlights, from 4 years ago, from the book "The Magic of Thinking Big" by David Schwartz. We end up talking about mental restraints, making good conversation, setting goals, and a smattering of other topics.

Here are some of the highlights from the book that we discussed:

“Ok I’ll try it, but I don’t think it’ll work produces failures”. There is a balance between setting yourself up for failures and just having low expectations. When the mind disbelieves or doubts, the mind attracts reasons to support the disbelief. The subconscious will to fail is responsible for most failures – in this way reframing our attitude can help us approach aspects of life with a greater chance of success.

“Think success, don’t think failure”. This develops around the idea that thinking success conditions your mind to recreate plans that produce success whereas thinking failure conditions the mind to produce other thoughts that produce failure. Imposter syndrome can hold you back and lead to doubts in your own abilities wrapped up in thinking about failure and inadequacy.

“Practice speaking up – it’s a confidence building vitamin”.

“Capacity is a state of mind”. A big constraint is not the amount of hours in the day but what you think the benchmarks for this thing are; Taimur discusses this article by Malcolm Gladwell about Roger Bannister’s 4 minute mile which looks at how, soon after Bannister completed his feat, more and more people began to run under 4 minutes and now even some high school students run under that mark every year. It’s a good example of how societal benchmarks that we all have internally, affect how we approach things. As Malcolm Gladwell says in his article “the act of making the unattainable attainable was considered a greater accomplishment than achieving the impossible.

“Whenever you leave a person, ask yourself – does that person feel better after talking with me?” If someone asks you how you are doing, try to be positive and effusive with your response. A positive attitude and approach to work and life will provide value to other people as well as improve your own enjoyment of the work that you undertake yourself.

“There are two things to do to help you avoid the costly mistake of waiting until conditions are perfect until you act: firstly, expect future obstacles and difficulties and secondly, meet problems and obstacles as they arise”. The test of a successful person is not the ability to eliminate all problems before he takes action but rather to find solutions to problems when he encounters them – in business or your personal life, cross bridges when you come to them. Paralysis by analysis is a common problem amongst many people starting a new venture. Taimur talks about the value of iteration speed in the start-up sphere whilst Ali explains how he’s fallen into the analysis trap in trying to set up his second YouTube channel about medicine.

Extra point of discussion:

The value of goals has become increasingly contested but they can still be valuable. The traditional idea in the self-help sphere has been about goals but the counter argument has been to focus on systems and your identity. However, whenever when you are using resources – whether that be time or money – it’s always with respect of what you’re trying to achieve and so, even if you’re not writing it down or explicitly stating a goal, your actions are still aimed towards something. Taimur suggests that setting goals around the things that might otherwise be forgotten can be essential to ensure you concentrate on all parts of a business or even your life and they also provide useful metrics in a team environment. However, for Ali, setting goals on YouTube for subscriber count for instance would reduce the enjoyment – making it feel too much like a job.


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What is this? Not Overthinking is a podcast about happiness, creativity, and the human condition. We talk about things to help us think, do, and be better. Things like social interaction, lifestyle design, mental models...things that are hard to examine, but important to explore. And hopefully, things that make for a fun and interesting chat every week.


Follow Not Overthinking on Twitter: https://twitter.com/noverthinking.

Who are we?

Ali is a junior doctor and YouTuber working in Cambridge, UK. He makes videos about medicine, technology, productivity and lifestyle design. His links: YouTube, Blog, Newsletter, Instagram

Taimur is a data scientist and writer, working on his own startup Causal. He writes on his blog and as a columnist for Medium. His links: Blog, Twitter, Medium, Instagram