The ability to achieve any goal is directly proportional to the belief that you can achieve any goal.
These is the underlying maxim of the Think and Grow Rich, the godfather of all motivational self-help books. Published in 1937, Think and Grow rich attempts to inspire the reader with with the mindset they’ll need to achieve their dreams.
Using real life examples involving legendary businessmen such as Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie, Napoleon Hill provides a blueprint for achieving the impossible. As much as this may sound like a gimmick, the success stories that followed in the wake of it’s existence were substantial. Napoleon Hill was friends and associates with some the most pioneering American businessman of the era who created business empires in the face of the worse economic depression America ever has ever seen. He was also an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1933 to 1936. What separates success from failure is not intelligence or ability, or who you know, or what you know – it is simply your desire to achieve a goal at any cost within whatever moral framework you have set for yourself. That said, the moral implications for success are a story for another day, one that goes much deeper than success itself.
To date over 70 million copies of Think and Grow rich have been sold worldwide and the book still maintains popularity today.
The more sure we are of ourselves, and the more exciting and inspiring the goal is, the more we are able to convince ourselves that achieving what we want is possible. It doesn’t matter what the goal is.
Modern research in psychoanalysis provide a new context in which to explore the repercussions of what constitutes success. Advances in psychology since TGR was originally published lend us a helpful hand in understanding the desire to succeed itself.
In some cases ambition is rooted in the wrong places. Most people who are ‘ambitious’ by all accounts have a greater desire for what they want than ordinary people. For them to be happy with themselves, they have to set monumental goals and chase them. It’s also possible for ambition to be rooted in negative emotions and the need for people to be recognized, to have their own narcissism satisfied, or their greed quenched. Ironically these imperfections are often what add fuel to the fire and allow these individuals to succeed. Hitler had a burning desire to eradicate the Jews. This was one of his clear goals. Clearly not everything that can be desired is desirable – Hitlers ideas relating to ethnics ended up inadvertently caused the mass genocide of millions of innocent people. In his mind he was still right, and an entire nation believed him. Such are the power of ones thoughts.
On the other side of the coin, there are cases where individuals have stepped out of the mold of lost ambition and spent lifetimes chasing an altruistic cause or an ideal greater than themselves not rooted in their own lives. Unfortunately this is still the exception to the rule. Compare a billionaire who sits on billions of dollars his whole life, to one who gives all of his wealth away to the poor after retirement such as Chuck Feeney, an Irishman who has given away over $10 billion and is now working tirelessly to ensure none of the money he has pledged is not wasted. Bill Gates is another example of a man with a plan, having dedicates his retirement to helping other people and starting bold initiatives of giving back. For the former the money is their security and they have grown attached to it; for the latter it is simply a means to an end, a gift to the world and a name for themselves as someone who realizes the imbalances in modern society and are prepared to put things right. “I had one idea that never changed in my mind—that you should use your wealth to help people. I try to live a normal life, the way I grew up,” Feeney said. “I set out to work hard, not to get rich.” Such is the power of an idea over pure greed which has no true form or purpose.
If your money dies with you, then so does that part of your legacy.
The Art of War is an ancient text on warfare. One of it’s core principles is that a great general should seek to win before he ever goes into battle.
The core principle within Think and Grow Rich is the same – as long as you are able to maintain belief and enthusiasm and challenged the limitations of your own thinking consistently, you are guaranteed to see results. This is the mindset of a winner.
Once you have compounded the resolution within yourself and you take your first steps, you will start to be tested. If you pass, and your thoughts remain strong in the face of adversity, you will succeed. Test yourself before you head into battle to avoid failure. Prepare and envision the worse failure possible. Wish for it. In that moment you will overcome whatever fear you had – most modern business is, after all, far from a matter of life and death.
The problem is that fear crushes desire. Discomfort crushes desire. Pain crushes desire. And desire effects belief.
In order to achieve a difficult goal you need to be out of your comfort zone, and you need to find comfort somewhere else. Some use religion, some use other people, and some find comfort within themselves. A lot of people prefer their comfort zones more than they desire whatever it is that they truly want, or aren’t inspired enough to overcome their fear, through love, greed, anger or lust, whichever emotion lends them the most power.
This explains in part why some people are able to keep learning and advancing, despite multiple setbacks, whereas others simply do not. In the face of failure, desire is pitted against fear. If you have already conquered fear, then only desire remains. It is important to maintain a balanced emotional state in order to maintain focus.
Everything else = immaterial.
Figure out what is you truly want by eliminating all distractions.
Magnify your desire until it burns a hole in your soul.
Then let it kill you.
And if you have no desires, then my friend you are not human.
Future bound one and all.
“Set your mind on a definite goal and observe how quickly the world stands aside to let you pass.” ― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich
“The starting point of all achievement is DESIRE. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desire brings weak results, just as a small fire makes a small amount of heat.” ― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich
“The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge.” ― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich
“Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and, perhaps, some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has ever known told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them.” ― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich
“IF – and this is the greatest of them all – I had the courage to see myself as I really am, I would find out what is wrong with me, and correct it, then I might have a chance to profit by my mistakes and learn something from the experience of others, for I know that there is something WRONG with me, or I would now be where I WOULD HAVE BEEN IF I had spent more time analyzing my weaknesses, and less time building alibis to cover them.”
― Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich
- Think and Grow Rich - The Book Itself
- Talent is Overrated - Why Talent is Meaningless
- The Gospel of Well – A Philanthropist Manifesto describing the responsibility of the new-rich to give back to the people in the wake of the Great Depression by legendard business Andrew Carnegie
- Chuck Feeney - An Irish Hero
- The Give Pledge – Modern campaign by Warren Buffett and Bill Gates asking billionaires worldwide to pledge 50% of their fortunes to philanthropic causes
Disclaimer: This post is written 99% objectively and I claim no allegiance to any just cause or philanthropic efforts. If you buy either of the two books listed on Amazon.com via the two links, I also get 8% of the sale, and you pay the same price. Smart. Otherwise download a digital copy of TGR instead. here.