Get Smart! Book Summary

One Paragraph Summary In his book, Get Smart!, Brian Tracy shows us how we can use more of our brain's power to enhance our problem-solving skills and to become more creative. Furthermore, he teaches us how we can change our perspective to get better results and be more successful in what we do.

Get Smart! Summary

Get Smart!—How to Think and Act Like the Most Successful and Highest-Paid People in Every Field
A book by Brian Tracy

  By writing this book summary, I learned the following three things:

  • You plan for the future and act in the moment
  • Zero-Based-Thinking is a great tool to invest your resources wisely
  • The best thing you can do to improve your life is to form good habits

Key Ideas

How to succeed faster? Double your rate of failure. Success lies on the far side of failure.—Brian Tracy

To unlock more of your brain's power, change your perspective

We only use a small portion of our brain's power. According to Brian Tracy, we can use more of our brain's abilities by merely changing our perspective.

Our perspective usually is narrow. But we can broaden our perspective by looking at problems and challenges differently.

Try to become more optimistic and see the world as it is, a place full of potential. If you can learn to be less pessimistic, you will allow yourself to see the good in the world. Failure will not be a problem for you anymore, because you will just see it as an opportunity to learn more and grow.

You will find out how to do this in the sections ahead.

Think long-term but take action now

Reaching your long-term goals doesn't need to be complicated. You only need to think long-term and take action now.

For example, when you want to ensure that you will have enough money at the time you retire, you need to make a long-term goal. Calculate the payment you will need when you are 65. Then take action now and deposit 10 to 15 % of your monthly income.

This way, you will ensure that you will have no lousy awakening when you enter the last phase of your life.

Make the right decisions by applying slow thinking

Here is a simple trick for how you can improve important decisions easily: give yourself time.

Set yourself a rule that you will allow yourself three days of thinking before making an important decision.

In his book [Thinking, fast and slow](/thinking-fast-and-slow-summary/ "Thinking, Fast and Slow Book Summary), Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman explains that we use two types of thinking. One thought process is slow, and the other is fast. To make the right decisions, we need to utilize slow thinking.

When you want to make an important decision, you should also allow yourself to think deeply in those three days. Going for a long walk in the next three days will give you the space your brain needs to consider.

The author has a particular model he calls GOSPA, which helps him to contemplate and allows him to make the best decision. Each character in the word GOSPA stands for a specific step in the thinking model:

  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Strategies
  • Priorities
  • Actions

What is the long-term goal you want to achieve? What are the smaller targets, the objectives that support that goal? What strategies can you apply to reach those objectives? What are the actions you need to prioritize to execute each strategy?

Avoiding confirmation bias

If you want to sell a service or product, you need to find out whether somebody is willing to pay for it.

It is only natural that we love our ideas and try to find all the possible information that validates that idea. We all do this. But to be successful, you also need to look at the other side. Why could your plan be a bad idea?

If you do not try to disprove your business idea, you will fall in the trap of confirmation bias: only searching for data that supports your concept without looking at why it could fail.

Avoiding confirmation bias is straight forward. You only need to make a hypothesis and then try to disprove it. Ask potential customers why they would prefer to buy a competing product, for example.

Be honest with yourself, even when the feedback you receive disproves your idea. Allow yourself to fail and learn.

The major definite purpose

One cannot overemphasize the importance of having goals when one wants to become successful.

Formulate your goals in the present tense, ensure they are positive and personal, and write them down on paper.

To practice this, do a little exercise now to find out what you should pursue over the next 12 months.

Make a list of ten ideas you want to do. When you have written down at least ten things, then look at the list and find the one item that stands out. This one idea is your major definite purpose, the one thing you should realize this year.

When you know your major definite purpose for the year, make a second list with goals that will support your main goal. Each time you complete one of those goals, you will be one step closer to your main goal.

Ensure to tackle the first item as soon as possible.

Time is precious, use it wisely

Several studies have shown that the average employee in a 9 to 5 job only works between 11 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. The rest of the time is wasted with procrastination.

Don't be that person. When it is time to work, work. When it is time to play, play.

You only can be successful when you complete your important tasks quickly and effectively. Do not waste your work time checking emails or social media.

The author presents a method called The Law of Three, which helps to concentrate on the essential tasks and use time effectively. Ninety percent of your results come from completing three tasks; this is called The Law of Three.

To use this method, all you need to do is to identify these three tasks for the day. To find these, write down a list of all the things you have to do. Then ask yourself which three tasks would generate the most significant results?

Following the Law-of-Three method will give you the necessary focus and ensures that you always complete the most critical tasks at hand.


The act of continually questioning the value of everything you do is Zero-Based-Thinking. To conduct this way of thinking, you can ask yourself the following questions in all areas of your life:

If I got the chance to do this from the beginning again, would I?

You can imagine that asking this question will uncover some inconvenient truths. You must avoid the sunk cost bias when handling these truths. Typically you will have made investments in certain areas that you now consider to be worthless. Do not invest more time, capital, or emotions in the regions that do not support what you want. Cut your losses and look forward.

To make this abstract concept more clear, let's look at using social media. Do you get valuable returns from browsing your various social media streams? If so, fine, but if not, do not invest more time doing it.

We need to learn and adapt to succeed

The author states that there are two types of thinkers: mechanical thinkers and creative thinkers.

Mechanical thinkers only see the extremes, fear failures, and cling to old ideas.

Creative thinkers, on the other hand, see the full spectrum, do not fear failure, and are happy to try new solutions for their problems.

Needless to say that you should try to become a creative thinker. To do this, you need to ask yourself questions until you get to the root cause of an underlying problem. If you have identified what the real problem is you need to tackle, make a list of solutions for this particular problem. Then just pick the one solution which you think might work best.

Now take action by assigning KPIs (key performance indicators) and make one person responsible for implementing the solution. If this is not working out well, pick the next solution on your list. This process will create a feedback loop needed to find the best solution for your problems.

Habits are the most critical element to becoming successful

Our habits determine Ninety-five percent of what we do. If we want to succeed in any field, we need to ensure that we form good, supportive habits.

Here is a small list of resources to learn more about habits. By reading these summaries, you will learn how you can rid yourself of bad habits and how you can form new habits:

The most important habits are keystone habits, which you will find explained in The Power of Habit.

First Insight: You plan for the future and act in the moment

Time perspective: long term thinking helps and changes how you act in the short term.—Brian Tracy

Doing something now without having a plan or a future goal is probably just being busy.

Find your major definite purpose for the next twelve months. Then finding the smaller milestones which will lead you to that goal will help you to make a decent plan to reach your long-term goal.

But the only thing that will bring you there is doing the right action in the current moment. Avoid being busy; ensure that you are productive.

Second Insight: Zero-Based-Thinking is an excellent method to invest your resources wisely

What is the most valuable use of your time right now?—Brian Tracy

Time, money, and emotions are all precious resources you need to allocate wisely. Brian Tracy recommends a method with which you can improve the way you use these resources. The technique is easily applicable. Just ask yourself the following question in everything you have done:

If I got the chance to do this from the beginning again, would I?

Oh well, when I did this exercise, it uncovered some inconvenient truths about how I invested my resources. It is painful but invaluable to get these insights because it will allow you to avoid wasting precious resources like time and money in the future.

Third Insight: The best thing you can do to improve your life is to form good habits

There are never any traffic jams in the extra mile.—Brian Tracy

I have written a lot of book summaries lately. A recurring theme in many books is the importance of good habits.

If you do not work on forming good habits, you will have a much harder time to get what you want. The best thing about habits is that once you have implemented them, you will do the right things without the need to think about them.


In Get Smart!, you will learn how you can shift your thinking from being mechanical to being creative. A creative thinker does not focus on a problem but possible solutions to the problem. By continuously asking questions, you will be able to not only find one answer but several solutions for a challenge. If you then write down the goals that will implement the best solution and stop procrastinating, you will find yourself on a path to success.


  • Change your perspective, see the good, and become an optimist
  • See failure as an opportunity to learn and grow
  • Consider the long-term consequences of your actions
  • Make a plan and break it down to find which steps you need to take now
  • Slow down your thinking to improve your decisions
  • Find the fundamental goals, objectives, strategies, priorities, and actions to reach your long-term goals
  • Make a hypothesis and try to disprove it to validate a business idea
  • Ask experts, customers, and competitors to learn all about the relevant market
  • Avoid the trap of confirmation bias
  • Have clear goals
  • Write down your goals
  • Find your major definite purpose
  • Do not procrastinate
  • Identify essential tasks and prioritize these
  • Use your worktime working, not procrastinating
  • Constantly learn and adopt
  • Form good habits as habits determine 95 % of what you do
  • Avoid being busy; ensure that you are productive

Get Smart! Book Summary—related resources

  Read more about Brian Tracy on his website.

Get FREE access to all of my book summary PDFs.

If you liked reading the Get Smart! Book Summary, you should also read the Atomic Habits Summary.

Posted on CuteMachine in creativity, mindset, personal development, personal growth and self-improvement.

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