I’m a huge admirer of Dr Napolean Hill, author of ‘Think and Grow Rich’ and ‘Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude’ and other titles in the 1930s, 40s and 50s. The principles he identified are as relevant today as ever. Every great achiever has applied them, consciously or unconsciously, in many areas of activity, not just business.
I didn’t always feel this way. When I first encountered ‘Think and Grow Rich’ at a student seminar in the 1980s, I thought this was just another work extolling greed as a virtue at whatever cost (we had a British Prime Minister in those days who did just that). It is far from that. Certainly he based his findings on a study of America’s richest men and gave many examples of men (and yes, in ‘Think and Grow Rich’ it was always men) who made a great deal of money. But he also pointed out the consequences of mishandling it.
Of course some of the examples he used are of their time and conjure up an image of the American sales rep in old black and white movies trudging from door to door in pursuit of his next sale. But life moves on, and timeless principles remain timeless.
When you read carefully, listen to his sound recordings and watch many of the clips of him on YouTube, you quickly realise that Napolean Hill’s definition of ‘riches’ went far beyond the pecuniary kind.
Here’s Napolean Hill’s list of 12 things that make us ‘rich’ in the broadest and most meaningful sense of the term:
1. A positive mental attitude
There’s just no getting away from this, it’s the key to all health, happiness and success, and it can be acquired through proper self-training.
2. Sound physical health
Worth some effort (good diet, exercise, relaxation etc.) don’t you think? It’s hard to feel good if your health is poor.
3. Harmony in human relations
Few people enjoy a happy life if they don’t get on with others and, again, most of the skills required can be learned and practised.
4. Freedom from fear
Fear is the great restrainer and demotivator, and at the root of all negative emotions.
5. The hope of future achievement
We live in the ‘now’, spurred on by the hope that our efforts will come to fruition if we persevere.
6. The capacity for applied faith
‘Faith’ in this context does not mean religious faith, but an ongoing sense of trust that if we apply the principles diligently our efforts will be rewarded.
7. Willingness to share one’s blessings with others
The Law of Attraction dictates that when we act from a consciousness of selfishness we attract the consequences of selfishness (our own and other people’s); and when we share what we have with no thought of return, others share with us too.
8. To be engaged in a labour of love
Like writing these blogs, for instance.
9. An open mind on all subjects towards all people
This requires non-judgement of others, empathy and a willingness to listen, all skills that can be developed.
10. Complete self-discipline
I suspect this is where most of us fall down. Self-discipline demand commitment, delayed gratification and good habits of thought, word and action.
11. Wisdom with which to understand people
Wisdom requires much more than knowledge, it is discernment, and comes mainly with experience and knowledge intelligently applied.
12. Financial security
Financial security is an attitude of mind – that we have enough for our needs, enough to treat ourselves, plus a little extra for a rainy day. Contrary to the popular impression, Napolean Hill listed financial security at no. 12, because it is not so much the aim but the consequence of the other eleven.
So there we have it, not so much a formula for riches, but for happiness, peace of mind and contentment.
Why not go through this list and honestly appraise your current state of being against each criterion? Then consider what you can do to improve (or rectify) any of the criteria where you feel lacking. You’ll find it very instructive.
©David Lawrence Preston, 9.5.2016
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