Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

2020, book 37: “I made up my mind, then and there, that I would get the necessary million dollars within a week.” — Napoleon Hill

Finished on June 2, 2020

A classic. One of the most popular books when it comes to personal development. This is one of the books on my annual reading list and one that I want to review regularly. The concepts within are important and applicable to just about anyone’s situation. While there are certain segments of the book that I might not agree with personally, I can certainly see the value in them as well.

This was said almost 100 years ago when Napoleon Hill first wrote the book but now there’s extensive science to back it up. It’s agreed that our subconscious does not have a filter and will take whatever it hears as truth. That means that our environment and thoughts have more influence over us than most people realize. We must be intentional with all things that we partake in throughout our life.

Pg. 29, It is a well-known fact that one comes, finally, to believe whatever one repeats to one’s self, whether the statement to be true or false. If a man repeats a lie over and over, he will eventually accept the lie as truth. Moreover, he will believe it to be the truth. Every man is what he is, because of the dominating thoughts which he permits to occupy his mind. Thoughts which a man deliberately places in his own mind and encourages with sympathy, and with which he mixes any one or more of the emotions, constitute the motivating forces, which direct and control his every movement, act, and deed!

Knowledge is not power. Knowledge is nothing unless action. As the saying goes, “There is no difference between the person who cannot read and the person who can read but chooses not to.” There are too many people with incredible value and potential who do nothing with their lives.

Pg. 48, Knowledge will not attract money unless it is organized and intelligently directed, through practical plans of action, to the definite end of accumulation of money. Lack of understanding of this fact has been the source of confusion to millions of people who falsely believe that “knowledge is power.” It is nothing of the sort! Knowledge is only potential power. It becomes power only when, and if, it is organized into definite plans of action, and directed to a definite end.

When you commit, you will work harder and push harder. Studies have shown that the most successful people (top 3% of people) have written goals. The majority of people do not even have goals! If you ask someone what they want to do in 5 years, chances are, they won’t know. That’s unacceptable. There is a purpose within each of us, why settle for less?

Pg. 65, The time had come for action!

I made up my mind, then and there, that I would get the necessary million dollars within a week. How? I was not concerned about that. The main thing of importance was the decision to get the money within a specified time, and I want to tell you that the moment I reached a definite decision to get the money within a specified time, a strange feeling of assurance came over me, such as I had never before experienced. Something inside me seemed to say, “Why didn’t you reach that decision a long time ago? The money was waiting for you all the time!”

When you reflect upon the life that you’ve lived and the things that you’ve experienced, is there one of these 10 causes that seems to be more prevalent than another? How can you mitigate that in the future?

For me, I’ve seen a lot of the first item here. There are a number of people that I’ve worked with that could be great leaders but due to poor organization, they’re been unable to look beyond what is within their immediate proximity. The fourth has also been a cause of failure that I’ve seen. The learning curve that I operate under may be flatter than other people’s so I’ve definitely had to leave some roles due to the impression of competition towards my leader. I think that the ninth is a tough one. There should be no emphasis on the authority of leadership but rather, it should be a given based on the intangibles of a leader.

Pg. 76, The Ten Major Causes of Failure in Leadership:

1. Inability to organize details.
2. Unwillingness to render humble service.
3. Expectation of pay for what they “know” instead of what they do with what they know.
4. Fear of competition from followers.
5. Lack of imagination.
6. Selfishness.
7. Intemperance.
8. Disloyalty.
9. Emphasis of the “authority” of leadership.
10. Emphasis of title.

I just shared this above also. Studies have shown that the most successful people (top 3% of people) have written goals. The majority of people do not even have goals! If you ask someone what they want to do in 5 years, chances are, they won’t know. That is ridiculous. Do you really want something? Is there actually something that you want in life? Go get it. Period. Before a goal is achieved, we should already know what it would feel like to have that goal achieved.

Pg. 118, Examine the first hundred people you meet, ask them what they want most in life, and ninety-eight of them will not be able to tell you. If you press them for an answer, some will say security, many will say money, a few will say happiness, others will say fame and power, and still others will say social recognition, ease in living, ability to sing, dance, or write. But none of them will be able to define these terms, or give the slightest indication of a plan by which they hope to attain these vaguely expressed wishes. Riches do not respond to wishes. They respond only to definite plans, backed by definite desires, through constant persistence.

Such an important thing to learn. There are so so many modern examples of this too. The most recent one that comes to mind for me is Patrick Bet-David. He shared in his book, Your Next Five Moves that he made a commitment to himself that he would not have sex again until he was a millionaire — he accomplished the feat in a year.

Pg. 138, I discovered, from the analysis of over twenty-five thousand people, that men who succeed in an outstanding way seldom do so before the age of forty, and more often they do not strike their real pace until they are well beyond the age of fifty. This fact was so astounding that it prompted me to go into the study of its cause most carefully, carrying the investigation over a period of more than twelve years.

This study disclosed the fact that the major reason why the majority of men who succeed do not begin to do so before the age of forty to fifty is their tendency to dissipate their energies through overindulgence in physical expression of the emotion of sex. The majority of men never learn that the urge of sex has other possibilities, which far transcend in importance that of mere physical expression. The majority of those who make this discovery do so after having wasted many years at a period when the sex energy is at its height, prior to the age of forty-five to fifty. This usually is followed by noteworthy achievement.

This, to me, is what a marriage should encompass. A true union of two people who become one should have the love, the sex, and the romance. There needs to be all parts and without one of them, the triumvirate, as Napoleon Hill states, will not survive.

Pg. 145, Fortunate is the husband whose wife understands the true relationship between the emotions of love, sex, and romance. When motivated by this holy triumvirate, no form of labor is burdensome, because even the most lowly form of effort takes on the nature of a labor of love.

It is a very old saying that “a man’s wife may either make him or break him,” but the reason is not always understood. The “making” and “breaking” is the result of the wife’s understanding, or lack of understanding, of the emotions of love, sex, and romance.

What’s the balance? There is reason on many occasions to be afraid of certain things, yet, we must remain faithful and proceed. We can look at financial projections that are intimidating but if they intimidate us, we will be without movement.

Pg. 152, Faith and fear make poor bedfellows. Where one is found, the other cannot exist.

This practice is incredible. It’s something that I’ve done myself a handful of times. I actually wrote about this specifically directly on the website as well. I strive to tap into what other people have learned and used but, I want to strive to also ensure that all I do is honoring God — so He is the head of the table. What I’ve done is record voice memos and ask questions aloud. I introduce all members of the group and then verbally repeat the “answers” that come to me. From my perspective I describe this either as God-revealed or my personal thoughts — but both are good.

Pg. 160, I followed the habit of reshaping my own character by trying to imitate the nine men whose lives and lifeworks had been most impressive to me. These nine men whose lives and lifeworks had been most impressive to me. These nine men were Emerson, Paine, Edison, Darwin, Lincoln, Burbank, Napoleon, Ford, and Carnegie. Every night, over a long period of years, I held an imaginary council meeting with this group whom I called my “Invisible Counselors.”

The procedure was this. Just before going to sleep at night, I would shut my eyes and see, in my imagination, this group of men seated with me around my council table. Here I had not only an opportunity to sit among those whom I considered to be great, but I actually dominated the group by serving as the chairman.

I had a very definite purpose in indulging my imagination through these nightly meetings. My purpose was to rebuild my own character so it would represent a composite of the characters of my imaginary counselors. Realizing as I did, early in life, that I had to overcome the handicap of birth in an environment of ignorance and superstition, I deliberately assigned myself the task of voluntary rebirth through the method here described.

I called on my cabinet members for the knowledge I wished each to contribute, addressing myself to each member in audible words, as follows:

Mr. Emerson, I desire to acquire from you the marvelous understanding of nature which distinguishes your life. I ask that you assist me in reaching and drawing upon whatever sources of knowledge are available to this end.

This was another aspect of the mastermind group that I found quite fascinating. It’s incredible that the people that he met with as part of his imaginary cabinet developed their characteristics and their qualities. I haven’t gone this far with the practice but may look to continue at a deeper level in the future.

Pg. 162, My method of addressing the members of the imaginary cabinet would vary, according to the traits of character in which I was, for the moment, most interested in acquiring. I studied the records of their lives with painstaking care. After some months of this nightly procedure, I was astounded by the discovery that these imaginary figures became, apparently, real.

Each of these nine men developed individual characteristics which surprised me. For example, Lincoln developed the habit of always being late, then walking around in solemn parade. When he came, he walked very slowly, with his hands clasped behind him, and once in a while, he would stop as he passed, and rest his hand momentarily upon my shoulder. He always wore an expression of seriousness upon his face. Rarely did I see him smile. The cares of a sundered nation made him grave.

The last part here is most important to me. “The results are often astonishing, although I do not depend entirely on this form of counsel.” It’s one way — like reading a book — to gather and gain information and insight. Yet, it should never be the only way that we are gaining insight and perspective.

Pg. 165, My original purpose in conducting council meetings with imaginary beings was solely that of impressing my own subconscious mind, through the principle of autosuggestion, with certain characteristics which I desired to acquire. In more recent years, my experimentation has taken on an entirely different trend. I now go to my imaginary counselors with every difficult problem which confronts me and my clients. The results are often astonishing, although I do not depend entirely on this form of counsel.

When I first read this book at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak in the US, I wondered aloud what an impact a measure such as this would have had. More than 12 months later and we are still seeing an exorbitant amount of scare headlines for something that, by most studies, is mainly controlled within our region and country. It would be particularly interesting to see a study centered around immune system effectiveness under periods of high stress vs. lower stress and during periods of positive news headlines vs. negative. Regardless, this was interesting to review, even if not fully applicable to today’s world.

Pg. 176, The fear of ill health

During the “flu” epidemic which broke out during the World War, the mayor of New York City took drastic steps to check the damage which people were doing themselves through their inherent fear of ill health. He called in the newspapermen and said to them, “Gentlemen, I feel it necessary to ask you not to publish any scare headlines concerning the “flu” epidemic. Unless you cooperate with me, we will have a situation which we cannot control.” The newspapers quit publishing stories about the “flu,” and within one month the epidemic had been successfully checked.

The most successful people all echo this. “Go all in on your strengths,” they say. That’s the way to experience real success. Go all in on your strengths and focus less upon your weaknesses.

Pg. 191, “It has always been a mystery to me,” said Elbert Hubbard, “why people spend so much time deliberately fooling themselves by creating alibis to cover their weaknesses. If used differently, this same time would be sufficient to cure the weakness, then no alibis would be needed.”

Each time I read this book it impacts me differently. It’s great every single time and powerful and moving all the more. There’s no wonder why this book is the popular classic that it is. I look forward to the next time through and being impacted differently from the times before.

I gave this book a 4/5

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