Napoleon Hill can be considered one of the “fathers” of the modern genre of self-help and personal-success literature. He was one of the most successful writers, teachers and motivational speakers of his time. Not many people know that Hill’s theory was redeveloped by Bob Proctor in the movie “The Secret”. The “Law of Attraction”, which is widely discussed in self-help books, learning programs, and seminars, actually reformulates Hill’s book “Law of Success”, that was written 80 years ago!
The lessons that he taught others have helped thousands of people all over the world. Very often these were the same lessons that he had learnt himself the hard way.
Hill’s life was not easy. There was nothing grand about his beginnings. He was born to a poor family on the Pound River in Wise County, Virginia in 1883. When he was 10 years old, his mother passed away and he was left in the care of his father. Two years later his father remarried, but the family’s financial situation did not improve much.
So at the age of 13 Hill found his first job as a “mountain reporter” for a local newspaper. Over time he saved money from his job as a writer and was accepted into law school. However, as he could not finance his way through college, he was forced to leave law school and return to work as a reporter. What had seemed as another setback, turned out to be a great opportunity…
When Hill was 25 years old, he was given an assignment to interview and write a series of articles about the richest and most famous men of the time. One of these men was a steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. This encounter changed Hill’s life forever. During this fateful encounter Hill asked Carnegie, the regular question, “To what do you attribute your success?” and received an answer that he was not expecting.
This is what Hill himself wrote about this conversation:
“With a merry little twinkle in his eyes he said:
“Young man, before I answer your question will you please define your term ’success’?”
After waiting until he saw that I was somewhat embarrassed by his request he continued:
“By success you have reference to my money, have you not?”
I assured him that money was the term by which most people measured success, and he then said: “Oh, well – if you wish to know how I got my money – if that is what you call success – I will answer your question by saying that we have a master mind here in our business…”
The concept of the Master Mind would become one of the most important keys to success in Napoleon Hill’s theory. But we will talk about it later…
Carnegie was intrigued by idea that the average man could easily achieve financial abundance just by using a “success formula” (that Carnegie believed existed). He challenged the young writer to interview 500 of the wealthiest people in the world and find out what it was about their personality that made them successful.
Hill eagerly accepted the challenge and met with some of the great people of his era such as: Henry Ford, William Taft, Thomas Edison, John Rockefeller, Woodrow Wilson, F.W. Woodworth, and Alexander Graham Bell.
20 Years Later…
What seemed like an easy assignment turned into 20 years of profound research! After studying the similarities between all the successful people, Napoleon Hill was able to deduce 13 principles that they employed to create wealth. The conclusions of Hill’s work were published in “The Philosophy of Achievement”- the world’s first philosophy of individual achievement.
In 1928 he wrote another masterpiece entitled “The Law of Success” that quickly became a bestseller.
In 1933 he became President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s advisor. The President even framed Hill’s famous phrase “Thoughts are Things” in the White House’s Oval Office.
In 1937 Hill wrote his most successful personal development book “Think and Grow Rich”, which sold over 7 million copies all over the world. Up to this day it remains the only complete collective study of so many creators of wealth. Hill’s principles of success are as applicable to money making today as they were over 70 years ago.
After the end of World War II, he wrote “How to Sell Your Way Through Life” (1939), “How to Raise Your Own Salary” (1953). For almost ten years Hill worked as a motivational speaker for Combined Insurance Co. of America, teaching his Philosophy of Personal Achievement and giving lectures on “Science of Success”. During this time Hill decided to team up with W. Clement Stone, a founder of Combined Insurance Company of America to write his next book “Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude” (1960). The two also founded a monthly digest magazine, entitled Success Unlimited.
Hill passed away in November 1970 and his last book “You Can Work Your Own Miracles” was published after his death. Napoleon Hill has not only left us a step-by-step guide on how to create wealth. He proved with his own life that his theory works and that an ordinary man from the street can achieve any goal.
There are three main factors to which we can attribute success.
- Thoughts that occupy our mind.
- Creation of mastermind group.
- The people that we associate with.
1. “Life reflects your own thoughts back to you.”
Hill strongly believed that personal success in all areas of life starts with a positive attitude. How we see the world determines and what we believe, guides our actions and determines the results that we get.
According to Hill, 98% of people have no firm beliefs or clear goals and, therefore, are continuously putting true success out of their reach. To become truly successful you should become aware of your thoughts and foresee positive outcome, while laying down personal goals. There is no sense wasting your time on being angry, envious, fearful or negative, as these emotions only rob you of your energy and prevent you from opening up your full potential. You can fail, not when you make mistake, but when you stop trying altogether.
2. “No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind.”
One of the key factors of success for Napoleon Hill was the creation of a MasterMind group. Napoleon Hill himself has defined “MasterMind” as the “coordination of knowledge and effort in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”
When a number of people start working together for a common purpose, they produce a much greater results than on their own. This principle is based on the premise that the combined energies of two or more like-minded individuals are many more times greater than the sum of the individual energies involved. If you combine your own strength with that of at least another person your total productivity, effort, creativity, and abilities become ten times greater.
When one person’s mind stimulates other minds, it triggers a “butterfly effect”, where just one good idea can generate amazing results that a single individual would not be able to achieve by themself. This is what Hill meant, when he talked about the “third” mind.
3. “The ladder of success is never crowded at the top.”
We all know that it is important to pay attention not only to the thoughts that rush through our mind, but to the messages that we get from people around us. We can let negative people drain our energy and optimism or we can surround ourselves with like-minded optimistic people who will help us to realize our goals, give valuable feedback and support us in our ventures.
Napoleon Hill after analyzing all the interviews that he had conducted with American millionaires came to the conclusion that millionaires did not become highly successful only because they worked hard. They did it, because they had surrounded themselves with people who gave them courage and inspiration to aim high in life and head boldly towards their goals.
Hill also believed that, similar to the MasterMind concept, the positive attitude emanating from a group of positive-thinking individuals would be much greater than the sum of their individual positive attitudes.
Famous Quotes By Napoleon Hill
The starting point of all achievement is desire. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat.
Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.
Most so-called Failures are only temporary defeats.
Every adversity, every failure, and every heartache carries with it the Seed of an equivalent or a greater Benefit.
Victory is always possible for the person who refuses to stop fighting.
Do not wait; the time will never be “just right.” Start where you stand, and work with whatever tools you may have at your command, and better tools will be found as you go along.
Both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.
A positive mental attitude is an irresistible force that knows no such thing as an immovable body.
What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.
No man ever achieved worthwhile success, who did not at one time or another find himself with at least one foot hanging well over the brink of failure.
Until you have learned to be tolerant with those who do not always agree with you; until you have cultivated the habit of saying some kind word of those whom you do not admire; until you have formed the habit of looking for the good instead of the bad there is in others, you will be neither successful nor happy.