Think And Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill

Author – Napoleon Hill
Genre – Self-Help, Management, Entrepreneurship

The largest selling non-fiction of all time, having sold more than 70 million copies! Also, the first book to start the whole genre of self-help and personal development. Hill, on the advice of Andrew Carnegie (one of the richest and most powerful people on the planet ever; who later donated 90% of his wealth to philanthropy), studied hundreds of rich and successful people over a 20-year period and then tried to condense the secret of their success.

This ‘Philosophy of Achievement’ is that an intangible impulse of thought can result in real material rewards, and hence the title of the book. When one is truly ready for thing, it puts in its appearance. [Rhonda Byron talks of the same ‘Secret’ (law of attraction) in her recent book]. Actually achieving this maxim requires 13 ‘success steps’:

  1. Desire – Hill recounts the story of his deaf and mute son and how, through sheer will, the son started listening and became successful. Practical dreamers do not quit. People who don’t have a goal cannot be successful.
  2. Faith – Hill advocates a deep unwavering faith, to the point that we need to burn all bridges of retreat. There should be no back-up option and we should just know we will be eventually successful.
  3. Autosuggestion – Keep telling your subconscious mind what you believe in, so the mind also starts believing it. Hill recommends we physically repeat this message to ourselves day and night.
  4. Specialized Knowledge – as opposed to General knowledge (latter is what professors have but none of them are rich). It could be based on experience. Education, derived from Latin educo, actually means draw from within.
  5. Imagination – Use of creative intelligence to obtain hunches and inspirations.
  6. Organized Planning – Hill spends a lot of time explaining how plan must follow a dream. And even if there is failure, it simply means we need to change the plan. He talks of the attributes of Leadership (courage, self-control, accountability etc.) and also why it fails (lack of humility, emphasis on authority or title). He talks of the QQS formula for perfect salesman service (Quality plus Quantity plus Spirit of Cooperation).
  7. Decision – Successful people took quick decisions and then very rarely changed those decisions.
  8. Persistence – Winners don’t quit, quitters don’t win. We have to ignore negative thoughts and persist.
  9. Power of the Master Mind – We need collaboration with others (network of minds) who can provide expertise where we lack.
  10. The Mystery of Sex Transmutation – Hill firmly states that sexual desire is one of the most powerful emotions known to humans, and it will be futile to try to curb it. He believes it is the creative energy behind all geniuses who were able to channelize or transmute this energy into something constructive. Sex energy provides personal magnetism.
  11. The Subconscious Mind – If we could transfer certain thoughts to our subconscious, it could get transmitted to nature and suddenly the world conspires to make us succeed. Through strong emotions of Desire, Faith, Love etc. this can be done.
  12. The Brain – Hill believes that our brain is a physical receiving and transmitting device for our thoughts.
  13. The Sixth Sense – Hill actually, in his imaginary world, created a conference with some of the greatest people on earth and with himself as the chair. And he would actually ask them advice and they would give responses (in Hill’s imagination, based on probably whatever Hill had read about these people). The process is pretty amusing and worth a try.

Hill ends the book saying that people are not able to fully dedicate themselves to his teachings and their own convictions because of the Six Ghosts of Fear: Fear of Poverty, Criticism, Ill Health, Loss of loved ones, Old age, and Death. We need to get out of these negativities and embrace the positives.

For all his studies in success, Hill’s own record in business was mixed. He opened and closed multiple businesses, alternating from big riches to being a complete pauper. He also married thrice and had multiple law suits against him. The book is written in the language of 1930s and that may be a bit boring (I actually found it amusing). As a salesperson, Hill overemphasizes on the ‘secret’ building a climax and sometimes being patronizing and dramatic. The core concept of ‘thinking passionately about your dream’ has been repeated multiple times using different words. The book could have been condensed to half without losing any of the message.

Why read the book? Since the book is based on practical interviews with the rich and successful, the success secrets are also pretty robust. Most of the other self-help books I have read (7 Habits, Emotional Intelligence, Rich Dad, Secret etc.) seem to simply reinforce what Napoleon Hill already said 80 years ago. Hill himself maintains that he has not seen a single person who followed this advice and was not successful; neither has he seen anyone rich who does not follow this advice. So, yes. Think and Grow Rich!