You already know it: success seldom comes by accident. It is a planned process. While passion is the foundation, without a strategy even the most promising project might fail. All successful people know that. They know it because they witness it themselves and because they educate themselves on the topic of success.
With all the business books about success and finances, it is quite astounding that if you ask them about the source of their knowledge, truly successful people mention one particular book over and over again. It is a book written over 80 years ago that has remained prevalent throughout the ages. This book details all the necessary actions you must take in order to be more successful, and these actions are the same today as they were in the 1930s.
About Napoleon Hill
While it is true that most people associate the name Napoleon Hill directly with his book “Think and Grow Rich,” he was, in fact, the author of a large number of mindset, wealth, and success books. His work was so renowned that he has even been dubbed the “Grandfather of Personal Development.”
Napoleon’s main mentor, Andrew Carnegie, was one of the richest individuals in all of recorded history. Both Hill and Carnegie believed that success was created by following a certain formula, and so, they set out to crack the code of great achievement.
After nearly 500 interviews and countless hours of research, their task came to fruition with the publishing of Hill’s signature work “Think and Grow Rich.”
Napoleon Hill identified 13 characteristics of successful people. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on the most important points.
1) Meet up for growth!
The most frequently utilized concept in “Think and grow rich” is the mastermind group. In order to be successful, you need a team of like-minded people, a group of people focusing on the same goal, whatever this might be. You will influence each other in a positive way and create a synergistic effect when everybody contributes to the group.
You can share your experiences and learn at a much higher rate through the knowledge of the other members of the mastermind group. This group can help you when you go through hard times and congratulate you when you achieve great successes. While there are many other names for such groups, the concept remains the same. So what should a mastermind group look like?
1) Group size:
Hill recommends that your group should consist of 12 people or less. The quality of the group is more important than the actual group size. A group of 2-3 truly committed people will achieve more than a group of 15 people who do it for fun or in order to kill time.
Not everybody can be a member of your mastermind group. The members have to be able to contribute in one form or another to the group. This can be knowledgeable about the subject of interest, but it can also be created.
Remember, the mastermind group is a place to brainstorm and come up with new ideas. Somebody who has little knowledge about the topic might be of invaluable service, as he or she is not stuck in common ways of thinking as other knowledgeable people might be.
You should come together as a group on a regular basis. Build a schedule that fits everyone’s commitments and lifestyles. Once you decide on a schedule, make sure you stick to it. Attending should not be an option, it should become a self-imposed obligation.
One important aspect Hill mentions when it comes to choosing the members of your own mastermind group is finding people who you can work with together in harmony! Remember, this mastermind group is supposed to exist for a long time.
You will have to speak the unpleasant truth or hear it from somebody else, but the atmosphere should remain positive. This group has to become your headquarter from where you all plan your next steps towards your ultimate goal! It has to become your sanctuary! This is why harmony is a key aspect of the mastermind group.
2) Be in total control
Napoleon Hill also talks about the idea that you only have absolute control over one single thing: Your thoughts!
You can have influence over other things, but we are talking about absolute control. Having control over your thoughts can have several advantages:
~You don’t walk around in auto-pilot mode being a victim of your habits
~You can interpret situations in the way most suitable for yourself.
~You can control your reactions to difficult circumstances
Remember that the interpretation of any situation and circumstance is up to you. Let’s say one of your plans fails miserably. You can either crumble in the face of adversity and see yourself as a victim of your environment or you can see this as just another obstacle on the road to success. For an external observer, the situation will be the same in both cases, but inside your head, you generate two completely different scenarios of reality. Having control over your thoughts in such moments will make all the difference in the long run.
3) Got your goals?
Another key part of the book deals with the art of goal setting, defining concrete goals, and taking the necessary actions. He also gives a 6 step plan on how to achieve success:
1. Be specific about your goal: Instead of writing “I want to be rich” make it “I want to have $500,000”
2. Be clear on the benefit of the goal: What do you plan to do with the money? Invest it in your business? Buy a car or a house? Give it to charity? Be sure you have concrete plans.
3. Due date: Set a date until you want to get your $500,000 or whatever it is you want to achieve or acquire.
4. Start now: It doesn’t really matter if you have a perfect plan or just an idea. Start now. TODAY!
5. Write it down: Take a piece of paper and write down everything you just thought about. Writing it down is so much more powerful than just saying it or thinking about it.
6. Repeat: Read the plan out twice a day. I know some people also put the plan somewhere in their apartment where they can see it all day long. Persistence is key and this reminder will help you.
He also explains how you should force yourself to devote everything you have to the process of achieving your goal. He calls it “burning the bridges” and it describes a process where you allow yourself no retreat.
The moment you give yourself a chance of having a plan B is the moment you allow yourself to not commit 100% as you always have other opportunities. You can hear a lot of successful people talking about how they burnt bridges in their life and started to work on their dreams with all they got!
4) Beware of the 31
Besides the reasons behind the success of people, Hill also lists 31 causes of failure. Some of the more obvious reasons include:
~No purpose in life
~Lack of ambition
~Lack of self-discipline
~Lack of persistence
~Wrong associates in business
I believe everybody agrees that lack of ambition or procrastination is obviously a roadblock on your way towards your goals, but Hill also mentions some rather unexpected causes of failure:
~Lack of control of sexual power
~Wrong selection of maid
~Superstition and prejudice
~Possession of non-earned power (like rich parents)
5) More bits of knowledge
In order to grow, you have to make progress. It is not enough to focus on your development for a short period of time, because the game is won in the long run. Again, the key ingredient is persistence.
Always progress, even if you take small steps.
This also includes educating yourself. Hill is an advocate of life-long learning. Continuously gaining special knowledge is key. This can include knowledge about your vocation and people skills in general. Before authors like Daniel Goleman taught the world about the concept of emotional intelligence, Hill realized: Your social skills are more important than your IQ!
But besides becoming more skillful with other people, you should also get to know yourself and constantly analyze yourself.
Personal thoughts and putting knowledge into practice
When I got into self-development, I was always looking for book recommendations by successful people. The one book everybody seemed to refer to as “Think and grow rich“. I admit that it took me a long time before I actually got to read it. I thought this book was solely about making money, but soon I realized how wrong I was.
What excites me about “Think and grow rich“ is that you can take the knowledge from the book and put it into practice in all areas of life. Have a goal, be concrete, make a plan, fail, adjust your plan and go out and do it! You can apply those principles to everything success-related, whatever success means to you.
I tried to build my own mastermind group and failed. I love the concept, but it can be hard to find people you truly share a common passion with. But just being interested in a topic will not be enough, you need absolute commitment. And this is where my groups crumbled. Nevertheless, I believe being surrounded by people with the same goal and the same drive is one of the most powerful tools we all can use to achieve our goals.
Furthermore, I was very interested in the section about positive thinking and being in control of your thoughts. Even though I don’t know if total control is possible, I have seen incredible results with my practices. I struggle to keep my focus during my meditation sessions even after years of practice, but observing my own behavior and actions made a huge change in my life.
Hill also included a section about leadership, which recently became a very important topic for me. I personally like Hills advice about leading by sympathy. I try to stick to Hill’s positive characteristics of leadership like a sense of justice or the willingness to take full responsibility. It can be tricky sometimes, but so far it served me well.
I believe “Think and grow rich“ will remain one of the most referenced books about success and self-development, even as society and our definition of success shift. It is full of usable and applicable tips. So take these tips and apply them to your own life. Use them to build the life of your dreams, in every area!
Lenny Hu is a scientist at day and a self-improvement addict at night. He believes presence, gratitude, authenticity and continual personal growth are the four ingredients for living a fulfilled life. He is interested in fitness, meditation, neuroscience, psychology, studying languages and learning from everyone he meets.