Psycho Cybernetics - Maxwell Maltz

Psycho Cybernetics - Maxwell Maltz

Video Book Summary

Download all of the Mind Maps here.

Book Summary Notes


“Creative striving for a goal that is important to you as a result of your own deep- felt needs, aspirations and talents (and not the symbols which the ‘Joneses’ expect you to display) brings happiness as well as success because you will be functioning as you were meant to function."

"Man is by nature a goal-striving being. And because man is ‘built that way’ he is not happy unless he is functioning the way he was made to function—as a goal-striver."

"Thus true success and true happiness not only go together but each enhances the other.”

Built For Goals

Maxwell says in this first passage that man is a goal striving machine..  I believe this to be true.

• Think about times in your life when you had a definite and clear purpose..  

• How happy were you?

• Think about times in your life where you felt no clear purpose.. 

• How happy were you?

But he talks about how we have to find goals that are our own..  

• Keeping up with the Joneses is a great term..  But it's not all encompassing!  

• Just because you're not playing the comparison game doesn't mean your goals are actually your own..

• We'll discuss this later on in the mind map but I recommend you pick this book up..  It's a classic!


“The word ‘Cybernetics’ comes from a Greek word which means literally, ‘the steersman.’ Servo-mechanisms are so constructed that they automatically ‘steer’ their way to a goal, target, or ‘answer.’"

"When we conceive of the human brain and nervous system as a form of servo-mechanism, operating with Cybernetic principles, we gain a new insight into the why and wherefore of human behavior."

"I choose to call this new concept ‘Psycho-Cybernetics’: the principles of Cybernetics as applied to the human brain.”

What is Cybernetics?

Before reading this passage I didn't actually know what cybernetics was..  But now it makes so much sense. 

  • Cybernetics was probably a new technology when he was writing the book..  So the word was in the ethos
  • Basically it's the system that missiles use to guide themselves! 
  • They set a target and then the systems say 'am I on target' and if they are they keep course and if not they course correct..

This is what I imagine is happening in the slight edge by Jeff Olson..

  • Small course corrections over and over leading you towards a large goal..
  • But first you have to start with this larger goal or set a target!

Another reason we should have a goal of our own!

  • Imagine this amazing system that we have to guide us towards our goals over time..  
  • Then imagine over the hopefully 100 years of your life you've been aiming the missile at the wrong target!


“A squirrel does not have to be taught how to gather nuts. Nor does it need to learn that it should store them for winter. A squirrel born in the spring has never experienced winter. Yet in the fall of the year it can be observed busily storing nuts to be eaten during the winter months when there will be no food to be gathered."

"A bird does not need to take lessons in nest-building. Nor does it need to take courses in navigation. Yet birds do navigate thousands of miles, sometimes over open sea."

"They have no newspapers or TV to give them weather reports, no books written by explorer or pioneer birds to map out for them the warm areas of the earth. Nonetheless the bird ‘knows’ when cold weather is imminent and the exact location of a warm climate even though it may be thousands of miles away.”

Success Instinct

Maxwell calls this instinct that animals 'Success Instinct'

  • Something inside them that tells them what to do..
  • Flying south
  • Burying nuts
  • Swimming fish

He also puts forward that humans have this same instinct..  Albeit a little more complex!

  • Trusting your success instinct is the key to harnessing the power of Psycho-Cybernetics..
  • The subtitle for this book is 'A New Technique for Using Your SUBCONSCIOUS POWER'.. 
  • Something we've talked about quite a lot on this channel is the amazing power of your subconscious mind!

Maxwell is essentially telling us here again about that amazing power.. 

Saying that if we trust that instinct deep inside of us that it will eventually lead us towards the goals we want to achieve!


“A human being always acts and feels and performs in accordance with what he imagines to be true about himself and his environment.”

“For imagination sets the goal ‘picture’ which our automatic mechanism works on. We act, or fail to act, not because of ‘will,’ as is so commonly believed, but because of imagination.”

“Your nervous system cannot tell the difference between an imagined experience and a ‘real’ experience.”

“Imagine how you would feel if you were already the sort of personality you want to be. If you have been shy and timid, see yourself moving among people with ease and poise—and feeling good because of it. If you have been fearful and anxious in certain situations—see yourself acting calmly and deliberately, acting with confidence and courage—and feeling expansive and confident because you are.”

"This exercise builds new ‘memories’ or stored data into your mid-brain and central nervous system. It builds a new image of self. After practicing it for a time, you will be surprised to find yourself ‘acting differently,’ more or less automatically and spontaneously— ‘without trying.’”


This is a huge topic in a lot of other books..  Visualizing yourself succeeding will help you prepare yourself for success!

  • Plus it allows us to hone in our heat seeking missile called out success instinct!
  • Maxwell and many others have noted that your nervous system can't tell the difference between an imagined experience and a real one..  We've got to use that to our advantage
  • There are many versions of visualization and Maxwell gives a great one here..

Try this exercise (modified from the passage above)

First see your goal..

• What do you want to accomplish?

• Why is it important?

• What is your most important cause?

Then imagine who you will be..

• What characteristics will you display?

• What is your self image?

• What emotions are you feeling?

Then see yourself in the situations..

• How will you respond?

• What are your principles?

• How will people respond to you?

This exercise will help you wire new neurons in your brain..

  • Maxwell talks about how this builds a new self image
  • Eventually you'll find yourself acting 'as if' these things have already happened
  • Then these actions will start happening more automatically and without trying!


“It is no exaggeration to say that every human being is hypnotized to some extent, either by ideas he has uncritically accepted from others, or ideas he has repeated to himself or convinced himself are true."

"These negative ideas have exactly the same effect upon our behavior as the negative ideas implanted into the mind of a hypnotized subject by a professional hypnotist.”

Real Life Hypnotism

Maxwell shares a lot of examples in the book of hypnotism..

  • Strong people who were hypnotized to be weak
  • People hypnotized to believe their hands were stuck to tables

The important thing to remember about hypnotism is that their actually strengths and abilities are not effected.. 

  • Instead they are effected upstream by their beliefs!
  • Which causes them not to be able to take actions 

Also important is to remember that it's not just hypnotists who have the power of hypnosis..

  • People in our lives that we trust have been implanting their beliefs of us forever..  and we have believed it!
  • Sometimes we even hypnotize ourselves when we find a new idea or experience a new experience..
  • These hypnotized beliefs that we hold onto are effecting our abilities to take actions in all areas of our lives..  

Because this is always happening we must be vigilant in searching for it..  

  • How often are you thinking..  Are these really my thoughts?
  • How often are you wondering..  Are these thoughts true?
  • How carefully are you paying attention..  To the information you're taking in and believing! 

Conscious Mind

“In short, conscious rational thought selects the goal, gathers information, concludes, evaluates, estimates and starts the wheels in motion."

"It is not, however, responsible for results. We must learn to do our work, act upon the best assumptions possible, and leave results to take care of themselves.”

“Because modern man does depend almost entirely upon his forebrain he becomes too careful, too anxious, and too fearful of ‘results,’ and the advice of Jesus to ‘take no thought for the morrow,’ or of St. Paul to be ‘careful in nothing,’ is regarded as impractical nonsense.”

The Control Knob

Maxwell shows us in the book how important the subconscious mind is..  

  • It's our most powerful tool in manifesting out goal
  • Responsible for things like our actions, beliefs in ourself and our abilities and much much more

But that the conscious mind is really the 'control knob' for the unconscious..

  • The conscious mind is responsible for the setting of the goal..
  • Then for getting the ball rolling by starting habits, behaviors and taking first actions

However because we often are always in our conscious mind..  we never let the power of the subconscious take over!

  • As a result we end up being fearful, anxious and careful
  • Focusing on results even though we can't control results in the external world

Think about a time you 'talked yourself out' of something..

  • Was that your logical mind trying to protect you?
  • As an entrepreneur I noticed this a lot in people..  Because I've had to physically train it out of myself!

Really as soon as I get an idea that I feel in my gut or I feel in my 'success instinct' as Maxwell would say.  I immediately take action on it..  Then course correct along the way!

Humans have this amazing neocortex that things it's omnipotent at times.  This cortex will project forward on your ideas and often it's only about how they could possibly fail

Causing us to be fearful, anxious and overly cautious. But the neocortex isn't omnipotent..  In fact it isn't even the right tool to guide us!  

Instead..  Action creates clarity..  The cybernetic system will guide you towards your goals better than your logical brain!


“Skill in any performance, whether it be in sports, in playing the piano, in conversation, or in selling merchandise, consists not in painfully and consciously thinking out each action as it is performed, but in relaxing, and letting the job do itself through you."

"Creative performance is spontaneous and ‘natural’ as opposed to self-conscious and studied.”

Subconscious Trust

Everyone has had the feeling of 'being in the zone' or the flow state before..  

And we all inherently trust and know that when we're in our 'thinking mind' we don't perform our best!

  • Why then with work, business and other goals do we only trust our thinking mind..  
  • Wouldn't it make more sense to set a goal and then let the subconscious mind take over?

This is all done through trust and letting go


“Our self-image and our habits tend to go together. Change one and you will automatically change the other."

"The word ‘habit’ originally meant a garment or clothing... Our habits are literally garments worn by our personalities."

"They are not accidental, or happenstance. We have them because they fit us. They are consistent with our self-image and our entire personality pattern."

"When we consciously and deliberately develop new and better habits, our self-image tends to outgrow the old habits and grow into the new pattern.”

Feedback Loop

Changing your Habits leads to you seeing yourself in a different way..  

  • Someone who exercises sees themself as someone who is in shape
  • Someone who works hard in business sees themselves as a successful business person

This creates a feedback loop..

  • Where if you believe something about yourself you're more likely to do a habit
  • Then if you do a certain habit it contributes to how you see yourself 

"Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity.” - James Clear


“We are engineered as goal-seeking mechanisms. We are built that way." 

"When we have no personal goal which we are interested in and which ‘means something’ to us, we are apt to ‘go around in circles,’ feel ‘lost’ and find life itself ‘aimless,’ and ‘purposeless.’"

"We are built to conquer environment, solve problems, achieve goals, and we find no real satisfaction or happiness in life without obstacles to conquer and goals to achieve."

"People who say that life is not worthwhile are really saying that they themselves have no personal goals which are worthwhile. Prescription: Get yourself a goal worth working for.”

“A bicycle maintains its poise and equilibrium only so long as it is going forward towards something. You have a good bicycle. Your trouble is you are trying to maintain your balance sitting still, with no place to go. It is no wonder you feel shaky.”

Riding a Bike

Momentum is a big part of what makes a bike balance

  • It's also a big part of what keeps us balanced as human beings..  
  • Moving towards our goals keeps us stable and not just floating aimlessly from one direction to the next

Are you feeling a little off?

  • Check in time!
  • Do you have a clear and compelling goal?
  • How have you been making progress towards it?
  • How can you make progress right this instant?

Batting Average

“Realize that it is not required that a man be 100 per cent right at all times."

"No baseball batter has ever had a 1000 average. If he is right three times out of ten he is considered good. The great Babe Ruth, who holds the record for the most home runs, also holds the record for the most strike-outs."

"It is in the nature of things that we progress by acting, making mistakes, and correcting course.”


This is a necessary part of any success..

  • The path that you think will get you to what you want is not the path..
  • Rather the path that will take you to success is the path riddled with failures..  
  • We have to be courageous enough to move past these failures and course correct!

Tony Robbins Says: "Success is the result of good judgement, good judgment is a result of experience, experience is often the result of bad judgement"


“And if there is one simple secret to the operation of your unconscious creative mechanism, it is this: call up, capture, evoke the feeling of success."

"When you feel successful and self-confident, you will act successfully. When the feeling is strong, you can literally do no wrong.”

“Simply define your goal or end result. Picture it to yourself clearly and vividly."

"Then simply capture the feeling you would experience if the desirable goal were already an accomplished fact. Then you are acting spontaneously and creatively. Then you are using the powers of your subconscious mind. Then your internal machinery is geared for success: To guide you in making the correct muscular motions and adjustments; To supply you with creative ideas, and to do whatever else is necessary in order to make the goal an accomplished fact.”

The Power of The Subconscious

Working with the subconscious mind is paramount to success.. 

  • Taking advantage of our on board supercomputer is a must..
  • But it's not taught to us..  Instead we're taught to follow our conscious mind!

The actual process is easy..  We just haven't practiced it!

  • Capture your feeling and emotionalize your compelling future
  • Visualize that compelling future daily
  • Prune away all beliefs that you can't accomplish it
  • Add in some self empowering beliefs to help you along that way!
Back to blog