In 1908 Napoleon Hill went to meet Andrew Carnegie to pick his brain for a magazine article. An interview that was supposed to last one hour turned into 3 days. Carnegie gave Hill the challenge of creating a book on the philosophy of success and instructed Hill to interview over 500 of his successful friends — people like Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell and John D. Rockefeller — to uncover the secrets of this philosophy. The result of Hill’s effort? The all-time classic book Think and Grow Rich. Many people (myself included) believe this is the greatest book ever written on an “American Philosophy of Success,” and that it is responsible for more entrepreneurial success stories than all the business schools in America combined.
This is a book you can’t just read once to get its true value — you’ve got to study it over and over again to eventually master its concepts. I personally review it every year in December before setting my goals for the upcoming year. And everybody I’ve ever coached knows that their first assignment is to read the first four chapters, as I will have them apply the book’s principles right from the get go.
Despite the title, Think and Grow Rich is not about just making money — it’s about properly programming your mind to control your own destiny. Let me share some of the highlights of this “Bible of Success” here:
Definiteness of purpose Early on in Think and Grow Rich Napoleon Hill asks you to write “a statement of your major purpose, or definite chief aim.” So he was talking about crafting what we would commonly call a “Mission Statement “ over 50 years before Stephen Covey popularized the term in his 1989 book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
Faith Hill stresses the importance of making a connection to what he called the “Infinite Intelligence.” Note the capitalization of the letter “I” — I believe Hill was referring to his conception of God, but wanted to conceal this so he would not be dismissed as some religious kook.
Autosuggestion “Repetition of affirmation of orders to your subconscious mind is the only known method of the voluntary development of the emotion of faith.” Hill was definitely a proponent of using “daily affirmations” — the hell with Stuart Smalley! And trust me, ya gotta have faith if you’re gonna succeed — I have a daily morning ritual in which I repeat my Mission Statement and several affirmations to “self-suggest” a positive mind set. All of my clients are assigned the same.
Master Mind partnerships Hill explains the power of the Master Mind principle: “Coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.” I function as a Master Mind partner for all of my clients — their agenda is my agenda. Perhaps the best example of this principle was applied by the man who inspired Think and Grow Rich in the first place — Andrew Carnegie. His tombstone reads, “Here lies a man who was able to surround himself with men far cleverer than himself.” And he harnessed this mind power to become one of the wealthiest men American has ever known.
Success stories Throughout the book there are tales of courageous actions by people who took an idea, then “thought and grew rich.” These include the men who began famous organizations like United States Steel, Coca Cola Corporation, the Ford Motor Company and Marshall Field’s department store in Chicago. Not to mention the story of the founding of a country just south of Canada: In the chapter on “Decision,” Hill chronicles the decisive action 56 men took in signing their own “death warrant” — the Declaration of Independence — on July 4th, 1776. This began the little experiment in democracy known as the United States of America … wave that flag, baby!
Overcoming obstacles Hill details “The 31 Major Causes of Failure” in Think and Grow Rich. Only one — unfavorable genetics — is beyond your control. The other 30, from lack of a definite purpose to a lack of cash, can be overcome by rigorously applying the book’s philosophy. And he’ll help you exorcise any of your “failure demons” in the chapter entitled “The Six Ghosts of Fear.”
Sex transmutation Hill didn’t miss a trick — there’s even a chapter on why most men don’t achieve their greatest success until after the age of 40, when they learn to channel their sex drive into higher-level pursuits. This was definitely true for me — heck, I didn’t even get married until I was over 40.
Think and Grow Rich has got it ALL — enough action, drama and suspense for an award-winning screenplay. Napoleon Hill himself had a very rocky ride on the road to success, as detailed in his biography A Lifetime of Riches — numerous false starts in business, two failed marriages, even a short period where he was being hunted by mobsters. But he left an amazing legacy that has stood the test of time. Through the wisdom of his masterwork he has helped me and perhaps millions of others to learn the secrets to succeed not only in business, but in life.
My question is: Why isn’t this book required reading in every high school (let alone college!) in America??? Nuthin’ against William Shakespeare, Crime and Punishment or One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, but Think and Grow Rich gives you the REAL education you need to be the writer, director and, best of all, STAR of your own movie.
When was the last time you read it?