Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill

3 Bullet Book: 2020, book #42: “The major distinguishing feature of the nondrifter is this: he has a mind of his own and uses it for all purposes.” — Napoleon Hill

Finished on June 18, 2020

Looking back at these notes, I loved this book. It was incredibly insightful and valuable to learn from. I think that the structure of the book was also awesome. It’s amazing how much we can think about the life that we are living and identify these people pretty easily based on the characteristics that the author outlines. There are far too many people in today’s world who believe what they hear and never listen for any other perspectives! It’s amazing how rash people can be. It’s amazing how people can simply accept the status quo or give up on their dreams. Don’t let that be you. Learn and remind yourself what clear and definite steps you can take (as are outlined in detail throughout the book) for the rest of your life. Then get to work.

The 3 Bullets

1. As with the other books of Napoleon Hill’s that I’ve worked through, he is incredibly direct and detailed at the same time. It takes a special skillful writer to be able to do that consistently. The author focuses on hiring for a little while and speaks about what happens when someone is able to put people together who “naturally harmonize,” and how the business that can do that consistently has much greater success than any other.

2. In the beginning of the book, right away, Napoleon talks about how the Devil attacks. One way that he does so is through reliance on other people. If people are not confident in their God-given abilities, what are they reliant on? Other people? The devil? Their jobs? If people cannot trust who they were created to be, what can they trust in? We see this happening way too frequently — especially lately. Thinking for ourselves in a critical manner is one of the best things that we can do for ourselves and for this world. Someone recently commented that it was an oxymoron for a teacher to be unvaccinated against covid. I’d have to disagree because it’s rather that the teacher made the decision that was best for them based on the information that they had, and I think that’s great. It should be celebrated when people make choices based on their analysis of information and use of perspective — God blessed us with these powerful minds for a reason.

3. Failure was another subject that was emphasized in this book. I think that the analysis of failure was incredible and I totally agree. The author reminded us that failure is truly just a manmade circumstance and no failure is permanent until accepted as such by an individual. Michael Jordan said this best. He said something along the lines of, “I’ve never lost — I just ran out of time.” I think that’s how we should all look at life. There is no such thing as failure. Perhaps we were losing or perhaps we had a failing business. But, that isn’t the end. The end is only the end when God decrees that it is.

Napoleon shares through his “conversation with the Devil” that one of the ways people serve the purpose of the Devil is by destroying a child’s ability to think for themselves. Eventually, if a parent or teacher “helps” too much or too often, a child’s confidence will be destroyed. Children must be allowed to be in charge to develop the habit of thinking for themselves.

Drifters are those who:

Who lack a major purpose in life.

Have no confidence.

Spends all he earns and more.

Will be sick or ailing from a real or imaginary cause.

Have little or no imagination.

Lack enthusiasm and initiative to begin anything they are not forced to undertake.

Will plainly express their weakness by taking the path of least resistance whenever they can do so.

Ill-tempered and show lack of control over their emotions.

Personality is without magnetism and will not attract other people.

Opinions on everything but accurate knowledge of nothing.

May be a jack of all trades but good at none.

Will neglect to cooperate with those surrounding him; he knows on whom he must rely on for food and shelter.

Will make the same mistake over and over again, never profiting by failure.

Narrow minded and intolerant on all subjects — ready to crucify those who may disagree.

Will expect everything of others but willing to give little or none.

May begin many things but will complete nothing.

Will be loud in the condemnation of the government but will never tell you definitely how it may be improved.

Will never reach decisions on anything if it can be avoided. And if he’s forced to make a decision, he will reverse it at the first opportunity.

Will eat too much and exercise too little.

He will take a drink of liquor if someone else will pay for it.

He will gamble if he can do it on the cuff.

He will criticize others who are succeeding in their chosen calling.

In brief, the drifter will work harder to get out of thinking than most others work in earning a good living.

He will tell a lie rather than admit his ignorance on any subject.

If he works for others he will criticize them to their backs and flatter them to their faces.


He is always engaged in doing something definite through some well-organized plan which is definite. He has a major goal in life towards which he is always working and many minor goals, all of which lead toward his central scheme. The tone of his voice, the quickness of his step, the sparkle in his eyes, the quickness of his decisions clearly mark him as a person who knows exactly what he wants and is determined to get it no matter how long it may take or what price he must pay. If you ask him questions, he gives you direct answers and never falls back on evasions or reverts to subterfuge. He regularly gives favors to others but accepts favors sparingly or not at all. He will be found up front whether he is playing a game or fighting a war. If he does not know the answer, he will say so, frankly. He has a good memory and never offers an alibi for his shortcomings. He never blames others for his mistakes, no matter if they deserve the blame. He used to be known as a go-getter but in modern times he is called a go-giver. You will find him running the biggest business in town, living on the best street, and driving the best automobile, making his presence felt wherever he happens to be. He is an inspiration to all who come into contact with his mind. The major distinguishing feature of the nondrifter is this: he has a mind of his own and uses it for all purposes.

Protection against drifting in life:

1. Do your own thinking on all occasions.

2. Decide what you want from life, create a definite plan for attaining it and be willing to sacrifice everything else if necessary rather than accept permanent defeat.

3. Analyze temporary defeat no matter the nature or cause and extract from it the seed of equivalent advantage.

4. Be willing to render useful service of equivalent value to all that you demand of life and render the service first.

5. Recognize your brain is a receiving set that can be attuned to receive messages from the storehouse of “universal intelligence” to help you transmute your desires into their physical equivalent.

6. Recognize that your greatest asset is time, the only thing besides your thoughts which you own outright and can be shaped into whatever material things you want. Budget it so that none of your time is wasted.

7. Recognize the truth that fear generally is a filler. Recognize it is only a state of mind which you can change by filling the space it occupies.

8. When you pray do not beg. Demand what you want and insist upon getting exactly that with no substitutes.

9. Recognize that life is a cruel taskmaster and either you master it or it masters you. Never accept that which you do not want. There is no halfway or compromising point. If that which you do not want is forced upon you then you can refuse it in your own mind and it will make way for the thing you do want.

10. Remember that your dominating thoughts attract through the definite laws of nature by the shortest and most convenient route — their physical counterpart. Be careful which thoughts you dwell upon.

“Be definite in everything you do and never leave unfinished thoughts in the mind. Form the habit of forming definite decisions on all subjects.”

7 Principles of Psychology that allow hypnotic rhythm to serve rather than destroy:

1. Definiteness of purpose.

2. Mastery over self.

3. Learning from adversity.

4. Controlling environmental influence (associations).

5. Time: Giving permanency to positive rather than negative thought habits and developing wisdom.

6. Harmony: Acting with definiteness of purpose to become the dominating influence in your own mental, spiritual, and physical environment.

7. Caution: Thinking through your plan before you act.


People who gain and maintain power must become definite in all their thoughts and all their deeds.

Definiteness of purpose + definiteness of plan generally succeeds no matter how weak it may be. People who are always definite in their purpose and definite in their plans never accept temporary defeat.

Through the law of compensation, one reaps what they sow.

Faith is a state of mind wherein one recognizes the power of positive thought as a medium by which one calls upon the universal store of infinite intelligence at will. Faith is definiteness of purpose backed by belief in the attainment of the object of that purpose.

Failure is a manmade circumstance and is never real until accepted by man as permanent. Failure is a state of mind which man can control until he neglects to exercise this privilege.

“When you speak of business leaders who succeed because they know how to pick employees, you may more correctly say that they succeed because they know how to associate minds which harmonize naturally.” Knowing how to pick people successfully for any purpose in life is based upon the ability to recognize people whose minds naturally harmonize.

The non-drifter always acts with caution. He makes allowances for the human frailties of his associates and plans ahead to bridge them. If he sends an associate on an important mission, he sends someone else to ensure the messenger does not neglect the mission. Then, he checks on both of them to make sure his wishes have been fulfilled. He takes nothing for granted where caution provides a way to ensure his success.

Caution is used most importantly in the method of selecting one’s associates and relieving oneself to associates. One’s associates constitute the most important part of one’s environment and environmental influences determine whether one forms the habit of drifting. One who exercises caution never allows himself to be associated too closely with someone who does not bring some definite spiritual, mental, or economic benefit — it’s sensible and leads to self-determination. All must provide helpful influence or a helpful benefit.

I gave this book a 4.5/5

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