What lessons can be learned from think and grow rich” by Napoleon Hill
Written in 1937 after a 25-year research on some of the most economically successful individuals, “Think And Grow Rich” is one of the universally recognized personal development masterpieces (more than one hundred million copies sold worldwide, according to recent estimates).
The book‘s philosophy centers around the idea that success, in any endeavor, can be reached through mental visualization and imagination.
To put it in simple terms, you can become anything that your mind deems possible; as a result, your mind becomes the one thing that can either stop you or propel you toward becoming the best version of yourself.
Below, we’re going to outline and discuss the book’s most notable lessons:
Thoughts are powerful things.-1
In the first paragraph, Hill argues that thinking is more conducive to success than any other feature, including money, education, or specific knowledge about something.
The man that “thinks” he can accomplish something is already a step forward toward the finish line. But thinking in itself might be a too general term. That’s why Hill translates thinking as a mixture of initiative, faith, willingness to win, and resilience.
Failure is also taken into consideration, being considered a necessary part of the learning process, but it gets us closer to the end goal only if we take it the right way and decide to persist nonetheless, no matter what it is that might show up on our journey.
Now, there’s another prerequites that must be beared in mind: being clear about the goal that we want to achieve. George Harrison once said “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there”; even before making sure that you’re determined enough to take the high road, make sure you properly pave the way.
How bad do you want it? Of course all of us has different goals and dreams for ourselves, but have you ever asked yourself this question? It might seem superfluous at first, but it is only when we really, really want something, that we’ll do whatever is necessary to achieve it. Therefore, in an hypotethic, overall scheme, desire is the one stage that links thoughts and actions together:
Thoughts → Committment (or Desire) → Action
Remember that Columbus dreamed of an unknown shore, the Wright brothers imagined a machine that could fly through air, and Henry Ford envisioned a carriage without horses. These people had two things in common: first, they were resilient enough to overcome other people’s critiques and repeated failures in their attempts. Second, they had a vision that was clear enough and that, with the combination of a burning desire, inevitably led them to success.
Therefore, it is only when you completely burn all the bridges that are holding you to the past and start thinking in a different way that you can win in life. You can have either excuses or results, not both. Hence, be willing to cut them off before they become a real impediment to your personal growth.
Faith, in Hill’s words, means convincing yourself that your goal is achievable. And faith can be trained and improved through self-suggestion. If you believe in something or have a specific end in mind, practice convincing your mind of the opportunity to realize that goal, and after a while, your mind will start to subconsciously act on behalf of your belief system. In a nutshell, you become what you think about.
Faith is the great equalizer; in a lot of cases, it is the cause of misery and failure, but becoming aware of its power and steer its force toward meaningful aims often times makes all the difference in the world.
Purposefully avoid negative emotions and focus all of your energy on positivity; this world is now more abundant than ever, and we have no excuses — none — for not realizing our fullest potential.
Hill also mentions the importance of writing your goals down, repeating them day in and day out for thirty minutes a day, and promising yourself that you’ll be relentless in their pursuit. Actually, he suggests a detailed process for injecting both ambition and faith into your goals. This process includes:
– Going into a tranquil place, where you know you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and repeat out loud your affirmations;
– Repeat the affirmations every day and night;
– Put a copy of your affirmations in a place where you can see them every day, and read them both before going to bed and when you wake up.
However, half-heartedly repeating your affirmations doesn’t make any sense; make sure that, while you do repeat, you can feel and sense your goals as already accomplished. Stretch your imagination to the max, and put emotion into your thoughts.
Hill proclaims that there’s two types of knowledge:
General knowledge, which is definitely more popular, especially among university professors. It is, though, not very useful for the accumulation of wealth (that’s why professors, in most cases, are very intelligent yet not particularly rich). Hill himself says that there’s no such thing as “Knowledge is power”. Rather, he calls it potential power. It becomes actual power only when intelligently directed through specific plans of action and a well-defined purpose.
Specialized knowledge, necessary for success. If you’re not specialized about the products or services you sell, chances are you’re never going to be wealthy or successful (or even happy?) in any endeavor. This type of knowledge can be acquired very easily through different sources: not only schools and universities, but also libraries, specialization courses, online materials; even some form of cooperation with others represents a higher form of knowledge.
Education doesn’t stop on graduation day, and those who believe that are eternally condemned to mediocrity.
If there’s one quote that completely reflects the theory upon which this books is based, it would certainly be that of Albert Einstein:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”
As men, we can translate thoughts into things. We can create anything that our mind conceives and deems possible. It descends that our mind can be both a blessing and a curse; our greatest ally or our worst enemy. While, if properly directed, our mind can function as a catalyst for progress and development, a contaminated one will surely harm us and make us victims of our own existences.
Hill states that imagination can take the shape of:
– Synthetic Imagination → Through synthetic imagination, our mind works mostly through our past: experiences, successes, failures, and the like. Its job is just limited to finding new combinations with “past material”;
– Creative Imagination → This is the form of imagination in which impressions and inspiration take place, and it works only when our mind vibrates at an higher rhythm.
Creative imagination can be stimulated by a strong desire and a clear and well-concocted plan (preferably written). When we think about the future in terms of opportunities, sketching the various outcomes that our actions might drive us towards, we discover a source of inner energy that will almost instantly make us more prone to work the plan and stick with it through and through.
As this volume recurrently points out, ideas can be turned into wealth pretty easily if accompanied by great strategies and rigorously organized plans. Hill goes as far as saying that hard work doesn’t even matter when there’s a great plan in place, but that’s a different story (which doesn’t totally get my approval, by the way).
Are you a decision-maker or a procrastinator?-6
Procrastination is probably one of the main reasons most people aren’t satisfied with their lives. Procrastination means giving up on yourself, it means paying too much attention to other’s opinions about you and the possibilities in your life, it means looking at successful people and asking yourself “What if?” when it will probably be too late to change something. Well, I’m here (wait, Mr. Hill is here) to tell you that taking action equals making decisions. What you want your life to look like? Go out there, draw your ideal life on a piece of paper, and, after comparing your potential life with your current one, provide yourself what’s currently lacking, be it more resources, more positive associations or more powerful routines and habits. Spend the rest of your natural life waking up and going after your goals. Remember that everyone has opinions, even people who shouldn’t, and the sooner you grasp this, the faster you can decide to not put up with people whose aim is just that of bringing you and your dreams down.
“Well done is well said.”
Go out there and do something, then excuse yourself. Not the other way around. Listen to everybody’s opinion; damn, be respectful to them. But remember they’re just opinions. Take them with a grain of salt: smile, thank the people who expressed them, and do your things regardless. Make decisions and stick with those decisions no matter what (besides, change them by yourself if you really need to).
So you have vision, desire, faith, knowledge, and imagination: what’s next?
At this point is pivotal that you surround yourself with like-minded people, people whom you know you can trust on an intellectual perspective and that can give you noteworthy insights and sparks which you can draw inspiration from. The combined effort of multiple, high-performing minds, is what allowed new ventures and once-upon-a-time garage businesses to thrive and become established realities in today’s world. Hill says that once two or more minds get together, a third, way more powerful mind is created; one that can push itself way further than any individual’s could do on its own. Obviously, you should assess your strengths before creating or thinking about creating a mastermind alliance. What could you bring to the table? Do you have the knowledge, influence or resources to accomplish the end goal? If not, make sure you put yourself in a position where you can actually make your contribution to the cause. Remember that a Mastermind Alliance is not about completely outsourcing your idea, waiting for its resolution and taking credit if it succeeds; you have to do the grueling and arduous work, which includes assuming responsibilities for yours and your team’s efforts.
I know you’re probably wondering what sex has to do with success. However, the two are more connected than you think.
Sexual impulse is one of the most important desires we experience as human beings; through the trasmutation process, we intentionally redirect those sexual energies towards other objectives, enhancing our creative faculties in the pursuit of those objectives as a result.
An above-than-average sexual nature is a typical feature of highly successful people; it doesn’t mean that they use it in a physical way, though. They simply convey that sexual energy through what they do. A great salesman can reach a position of influence in his field only if he’s able to fully trasmute his sexual energy during the sales process. He acknowledges his sexual desire, but consciously decides to translate it into enthusiasm and passion for his profession, instead of its most physical counterpart. This is very important: sex trasmutation requires an enormous amount of willpower, but its return on investment is more than worth it. If we can’t control our sexual impulses, we’ll end up behaving just like animals: losing our senses, our reason, and ultimately our ability to do meaningful and high-quality work.
The subconscious part of your brain is like an archieve: it receives and contains your thoughts and impressions, regardless of their nature. It registers everything, and it acts based on your predominant thinking patterns. So if you feed your brain with the vision of wealth and success, it’ll work its way through making those aims a physical reality, and it works just as intensely with negative beliefs and convictions: it just does what you tell it to do.
Make it an habit to implant positive thoughts into your mind and mix them with vision and faith. Then, “communicate” these plans to your subconscious through self-suggestion. Knowing that pessimistic impulses are much easier to create and a lot harder to destroy, try (as much as you can) to shut them off nonetheless, or at least distract your mind whenever you find it wandering around them. Again, don’t expect it to be easy: if you grew up in the same settings the vast majority of the current human population did, chances are you’ve been brainwashed for years with a lot of false beliefs such as “money is evil”, “the economy is worsening”, “having goals is egoistic”, and the likes. Understand that people who talk this way never experienced a meaningful and rich existence, and they probably never will; do yourself a favor and shield your mind from them; protect your spirit from contamination at all costs.
Here comes the toughest of your opponents in the road to financial, mental, and spiritual success. Fear stops a lot of people from becoming their best selves, and it will try to stop you too — if you let it.
Fear has many facets, and Hill traced a list of the seven which he considers the worst ones:
– Fear of poverty → Poverty and wealth can’t coexist. You either want one or the other, so if your desire is that of becoming wealthy (or even financially stable), decide how much riches you’d like to accumulate and make it a point to completely refuse poverty in your mind.
– Fear of criticism → History accustomed us to turn our nose up at criticism. In the past, contrary opinions meant punishment; since I’m italian, it’s sufficient for me to recall the Fascism era, which took place between 1922 and 1945 in Italy. During that time, any opposing view was casted as inappropriate, and the one who expressed it was highly likely to be killed.
Years later, thankfully, the situation is completely different, yet when it comes to expressing our point of view, be it divergent or not, our minds are just as frightened as they would have been back in the day.
Critics can have a profound effect if conveyed in an exaggerated quantity, especially to younger individuals; it can rob them of power, self-confidence and independent thinking.
– Fear of ill health → This fear, in my opinion, stems from two sources: the first one is represented by the opinion of those negative people that surround your life. It seems like they enjoy being cynical and pessimistic just as much as they hate living life to the fullest, and this spread negativity, sooner or later, will affect you and your thought pattern, making you increasingly likely to constantly overthink about negative outcomes in your own existence. The second one is embodied by the media: now, I’m not on some wich-hunt here, but have you ever heard a newscast that talked about something in a positive light? For more than five minutes? Yes, me neither. Nowadays, with the excuse of “making us aware” of what happens, the media tries to make matters worse by emotionalizing every single bit of event. And this, of course, makes us more pessimistic and ill-minded.
– Fear of loss love → Fear of losing a loved one is one of the most common — yet most terrifying for some — feelings that can be experienced. It stems from personal past experiences, and even going further back, from our ancestors also: in the primitive era, males got used to stealing women from other men, and they did that through brute force. Today, while the “crime” remains, the manners have changed: violent behaviors have been replaced by different baits, such as expensive cars, houses, and clothes.
However, the fear of loss love is more common among women, since men, by their nature, are more inclined to be polygamous: a trait that makes them unworthy of trust most of the time (especially when in presence of rivals).
– Fear of old age → Less sexual attraction, more likelihood of getting ill, less mobility and strength; these are all natural consequences of old age. Instead of taking the elderly years of our lives as a chance to gather more acuity and life experiences, some of us refuse to acknowledge the positive side of aging, living in constant fear of its arrival as a result. Just like birth and growth, aging is part of life, and it is something that we’re all going to go through (major happenings apart). If you’re already in that stage, take that as a chance to be a fantastic parent, grand-parent or just a beautiful human being, spreading your wisdom and knowledge with those you care about the most.
– Fear of death → The last one, and one of the most dreaded, is the fear of death, which is related with the fear of the unknown. What does death mean? Where am I going to end up? Will there be any “heaven” or “hell”? These are all legit questions, but we can’t and will never know the answers. Death is a mysterious, unpredictable event, and unpredictability scares us. At the same time, though, being afraid of death is useless (just like it’s useless to be scared about any of the fears described above): death is necessary, and like aging, no one ever escaped from it. Maybe it’s not even as bad as many people make you believe. Maybe it’s just a transition. Maybe that transition is toward something better. Who knows?