Think and Grow Rich
By Napoleon Hill
First published in 1937, Think and Grow Rich was published by author Napoleon Hill as an antidote to the hard times faced by people in America after the Great Depression. In a time when most were struggling to survive, the principles and plan he set out offered readers a philosophy of positive thinking and steps to transform their lives, allowing them to believe in more than mere survival, even dare to improve themselves and thrive. The main message conveyed by the author is that success is not down to luck or circumstances, but to an individual’s way of thinking and attitude.
At the request of Andrew Carnegie, one of the nation’s wealthiest people at the time, Napoleon Hill spent decades researching and interviewing hundreds of successful people in their field to gain an understanding of the “secret” to their success. Those he interviewed included Henry Ford, John Rockefeller, Thomas Edison, Marshall Field, Charles Schwab, and Alexander Graham Bell, and his findings became the Law of Success, completed in 1928. A condensed version of all eight volumes became Think and Grow Rich in 1937.
The author writes: The object of this book is to help all who seek it learn the art of changing their minds from failure consciousness to success consciousness. You have ABSOLUTE CONTROL over but one thing, and that is your thoughts. This is the most significant and inspiring of all facts known to man! It reflects man’s Divine nature. This Divine prerogative is the sole means by which you may control your own destiny. If you fail to control your own mind, you may be sure you will control nothing else. Study the record of any man who achieves noteworthy success, and you will observe that he has control over his own mind, moreover, that he exercises that control and directs it toward the attainment of definite objectives. Without this control, success is not possible.
My Top 3 Takes from the Summary
The starting point of all achievement is desire
Success comes to those who become success conscious. Failure comes to those who indifferently allow themselves to become failure conscious
Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve
A Philosophy of Achievement
The term ‘rich’ suggests monetary wealth, but the author makes it clear that the term can mean many different things beyond money alone. Family harmony, quality friendships, work-life balance, happiness, and spiritual peace, for example, can all be considered riches in life. He writes: When you begin to think and grow rich, you will observe that riches begin with a state of mind, with definiteness of purpose, with little or no hard work. You, and every other person, ought to be interested in knowing how to acquire that state of mind which will attract riches… Observe very closely, as soon as you master the principles of this philosophy, and begin to follow the instructions for applying those principles, your financial status will begin to improve, and everything you touch will begin to transmute itself into an asset for your benefit. Impossible? Not at all!” Success comes to those who become success conscious. Failure comes to those who indifferently allow themselves to become failure conscious.
The 13 principles of his philosophy of achievement are presented in detail in the book, and this summary outlines seven of them.
He writes: The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat. If you find yourself lacking persistence, this weakness may be remedied by building a stronger fire under your desires.
The message here is that the first step to success is to know what it is you really want to achieve. It must be a definite purpose that you have a burning desire to achieve. The stronger the desire, the more it becomes an all-consuming obsession that you feel compelled to achieve.
He writes: I believe in the power of desire backed by faith. FAITH is the ‘external elixir’, which gives life, power, and action to the impulse of thought. The message here is that you must first know what you want, then you must create in yourself the belief that you can do it. It’s only by believing something is possible that it becomes possible. Until you believe it’s possible for you to succeed, success won’t be yours.
The author explains the power of the mind to influence outcomes. He writes: The method by which desire for riches can be transmuted into its financial equivalent consists of six definite, practical steps:
Fix in your mind the exact amount of money you desire. It is not sufficient merely to say, “I want plenty of money”. Be definite as to the amount.
Determine exactly what you intend to give in return for the money you desire.
Establish a definite date when you intend to possess the money you desire.
Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire, and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.
Write out a clear, concise statement of the amount of money you intend to acquire.
Name the time limit for its acquisition. State what you intend to give in return for the money, and describe clearly the plan through which you intend to accumulate it.
Read your written statement aloud, twice daily, once just before retiring at night, and once after rising in the morning. AS YOU READ, SEE AND FEEL AND BELIEVE YOURSELF ALREADY IN POSSESSION OF THE MONEY.
He adds that these 6 steps must be executed persistently day in and day out because only then can you successfully influence your mind, create faith, and let your burning desire develop into an obsession. The need to remain open to trying the steps he suggests and to willingly follow the instructions set out in each principle is something the author reiterates throughout the text.
He writes: For your desires to be converted to money or a physical product you need to be specialized in the domain that you are looking for. This knowledge can be gained by reading books, attending seminars or watching lectures of the greatest pioneers in that field. This principle doesn’t need more explanation as everyone knows the importance of having knowledge in the field that we are wishing to excel in.
He also makes the point that the time to begin is now, stating: Don’t wait. The time will never be just right. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.
The author believes there are two types of imagination:
Synthetic Imagination – this imagination includes ideas of arranging old concepts or plans into new sets of combinations of plans and desires to be fulfilled.
Creative Imagination – this imagination includes where ideas come from (“infinite intelligence”) and where “hunches” and “inspirations” are received.
The key point he makes about the importance of imagination is summed up when he writes: Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
He writes: Once you have your desire and have specialized knowledge in that particular domain, you need to have an organized plan to carry that plan forward and achieve success. You cannot achieve success without a predetermined plan. Anybody can wish for riches, and most people do, but only a few know that a definite plan plus a burning desire for wealth are the only dependable means of accumulating it. The most practical of all methods for controlling the mind is the habit of keeping it busy with a definite purpose, backed by a definite plan.
The message here is that a dream will remain just a dream unless a plan of action is put in place to turn it into a reality. A dream needs to become a definite goal, and then that goal must be clearly visualised and “seen” in your mind’s eye. A visualised goal provides the focus and the motivation needed to stick with the plan and to make your dream happen – no matter what.
He writes: One of the major reasons for failure is the absence of persistence. The basis of persistence is the power of will, and it’s also influenced by other factors, such as Definiteness of purpose, Self-reliance, Definiteness of plans, Accurate knowledge, Cooperation, and Habits. Lack of persistence will lead to the following insecurities: Procrastination, Lack of interest, Indecision, Weakness of desire, Willingness to quit, Lack of organized plans, and Fear of criticism.
If the first plan which you adopt does not work successfully, replace it with a new plan, if this new plan fails to work, replace it, in turn with still another, and so on, until you find a plan which DOES WORK. Right here is the point at which the majority of men meet with failure, because of their lack of PERSISTENCE in creating new plans to take the place of those which fail. The majority of people are ready to throw their arms and purposes overboard, and give up at the first sign of opposition or misfortune. A few carry on despite all opposition until they attain their goal. Those who have cultivated the HABIT of persistence seem to enjoy insurance against failure. No matter how many times they are defeated, they finally arrive up toward the top of the ladder.
Sometimes it appears that there is a hidden Guide whose duty is to test men through all sorts of discouraging experiences. Those who pick themselves up after defeat and keep on trying, arrive; and the world cries, “Bravo! I knew you could do it!” The hidden Guide lets no one enjoy great achievement without passing the PERSISTENCE TEST. Those who can’t take it, simply do not make the grade. Without persistence, you will be defeated, even before you start. With persistence, you will win. Most great people have achieved their greatest success just one step beyond their greatest failure.
Throughout the book, the need for persistence is emphasised and persistence is linked to another principle – Decision. He writes: The greatest enemy here is procrastination. Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you are ready or not, to put this plan into action.
The overriding message throughout the book is that “riches begin with a state of mind.” In setting out his philosophy of achievement, Napoleon Hill shares the experiences and insights of the wealthy individuals he studied, and adds his own thoughts on what it takes to develop the successful state of mind and habits they share. He asserts that ‘wealth creation is a product of mind, combining reasoning, imagination and tenacity’ and for this reason, he encourages readers to develop a positive thinking habit so that their positivity can manifest into the life they want. Since its first publication, his step-by-step formula has given readers everything they need to take responsibility for their own lives and, most importantly of all, believe in themselves and a world of possibilities.
Think and Grow Rich is one of the best-selling books of all time. It’s written in a way that makes it accessible to people from all walks of life, and the information it contains can be considered a formula for success – whatever your personal definition of success may be.
Bio of the Author
Napoleon Hill (1883-1970) was an American author in the self-help genre. He was the first author to write about the power of the mind and its connection to success, and the role thoughts play in determining physical outcomes in life. By the time of his death in 1970, Think and Grow Rich had sold over 20 million copies.
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, 1937, ISBN: 978-1-453-81312-6 (2010 original classic reprint) is available to buy at Amazon.