Can We Really Think And Grow Rich?

In the Victorian era success was believed to be about hard work, serious effort, application and persistence, and maybe a slice of privilege or good luck.

Later Deepak Chopra and other ‘New Age writers taught that by raising our consciousness we achieve everything while doing nothing, and it doesn’t matter what our background.

Somewhere in the middle of these two extremes, writing in the 1930s, laid one of America’s most influential and barely recognised authors, Dr Napolean Hill.

I first came across his seminal work, Think and Grow Rich, in the late 80s. At that time I taught in the business department of a university. One day, the secretary of the students’ association invited me to attend a talk given by a former professional footballer who had gone on to make a fortune in the insurance industry. The subject was Think and Grow Rich.  At first, I wasn’t attracted to what I thought (wrongly) was just another book preaching ‘greed is good’. Remember, in this was the Thatcher era. Government ministers showed little empathy for the poorest in society, and every week on TV Harry Enfield’s comic character ‘Loadsamoney’ could be heard mocking the lowly paid as traditional industries collapsed around them.

But I attended. An hour and a half later I was convinced that this was exactly what we should be teaching our students. This was the missing link between academic and vocational success and in many ways the key to happiness at all levels.

Napolean Hill was just starting out on his career in journalism when he met the industrialist Andrew Carnegie, at that time reputedly the world’s richest man. Carnegie, a Scot, had arrived in the USA penniless. He was convinced that the formula for success could be identified and expressed in simple terms that anyone could apply. They made a deal. Carnegie would introduce the young journalist to five hundred of America’s most financially successful men. Hill would interview them and publish his findings. No money would change hands since Carnegie reasoned that once Dr Hill had completed his task, he would need no payment from him.

TAGR was first published in 1937. It was an immediate success. The first five thousand copies quickly sold out despite there being no advertising. Another ten thousand copies were printed, then another twenty thousand, and all sold out within a few weeks. To date, more than fifteen million copies have been sold.

What is the formula that Dr Hill so eloquently articulated? It is based on two sets of ideas – The Six Steps to Riches and the Thirteen Step Programme to Wealth and Success.

Here are the Six Steps:

  • Fix in your mind precisely what you want. ‘Know what you want’, wrote Dr Hill, ‘and you’ll generally get it.’
  •  Determine what you intend to give in exchange. You have to give before you can get, and nothing comes for free.
  •  Establish a definite date by which you intend to have it.
  •  Make a plan and start right away. If the plan isn’t working, amend it, but never give up.
  •  Write a statement of intention on a small card and place it where you can see it. This keeps your goal permanently etched in your mind.
  •  Read the statement several times a day. Let your subconscious mind absorb it.

These Six Steps are complemented by thirteen action points and principles:

  • Desire is ‘the starting point of all achievement, and the first step to riches.’ Dr Hill wrote, ‘All success starts with selecting a definite purpose, the desire to achieve it, and commitment to it.’
  • Faith: ‘a state of mind which may be induced or created by affirmation or repeated instructions to the subconscious mind through the principle of autosuggestion.’ ‘There are no limitations other than those we impose on ourselves,’ wrote Dr Hill, ‘because both poverty and riches are the offspring of thought.’
  •  Auto-suggestion: self-administered suggestion in the form of affirmations to be used morning and night and frequently in between.
  •  Specialised knowledge: Contrary to the well-known maxim, knowledge is not power, but potential power. It only becomes power when it is organised into plans of action and directed to a definite end
  •  Imagination: Everything starts out as an idea waiting to be brought into expression. Imagination may be cultivated through relaxed visualisation, which also strengthens belief in attainment.
  •  Organised planning is the crystallisation of desire into action. To be sure of success, argued Dr Hill, you must have plans that are faultless. You also need a Plan B (and a Plan C and maybe D).
  •  Decision: Lack of decision is a major cause of failure. It causes procrastination, ‘a common enemy which practically all must conquer.’
  •  Persistence: Dr Hill had much to say on this subject. ‘Persistence is to the character of man what carbon is to steel,’ he wrote. ‘No man is ever whipped until he quits in his own mind.’  And ‘every adversity, every failure and every heartache carries with it the seed of an equivalent or a greater benefit.’
  •  The Master Mind: No individual has sufficient knowledge and experience to succeed massively without the cooperation of other people. The Mastermind is the harmonious coordination of knowledge and effort between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.
  •  Sex Transmutation: Sex energy is the creative energy of all geniuses, but it must be channelled into constructive activity.  This means the switching of the mind from thoughts of physical expression to thoughts of some other nature.
  •  The Subconscious Mind:  Dr Hill wrote that the subconscious is ‘a field of consciousness in which every impulse of thought is classified and recorded and from which thoughts may be withdrawn as letters may be taken from a filing cabinet’. It receives and files impressions or thoughts, and draws upon the forces of Infinite Intelligence for its power.
  •  The Brain: Every brain is capable of picking up vibrations of thought being released by other brains. ‘Our brains become magnetised with the dominating thoughts which we hold in our minds,’ and ‘the circumstances of life harmonise with the nature of our dominant thoughts.’ Dr Hill was teaching the ‘Law of Attraction’ long before it entered the popular imagination.
  •  The Sixth Sense (or intuition) can be understood and assimilated only by mastering the other twelve principles.  This is the receiving mechanism by which ideas, plans and thoughts flash into the mind, and the medium of contact between the finite mind of the human being and the Infinite Intelligence.

So what made Think and Grow Rich the runaway success that it became? Well obviously it offered hope at a time of great economic hardship and was based on thorough research and experience. ‘Whatever the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve,’ became his most famous phrase. Since we all have the ability to desire, to think, to imagine, our destiny is in our own hands. Moreover, since the Infinite Intelligence does not play favourites, riches are within everyone’s reach.

But there’s more. Far from being a mere formula, it is a profound work of practical and spiritual philosophy. Hill believed there were universal forces beyond our intellectual understanding and identified the blockages that prevent most of us rising above the daily grind, most of which exist only in our limiting thoughts and imagination. He drew on ancient wisdom, that we accomplish nothing without the Power (or ‘Infinite Intelligence’) that works within us. And he gave us tools that anyone able to think and act for themselves could use.

There’s little doubt that virtually every Western success coach and motivational speaker owes Dr Napolean Hill a huge debt without necessarily acknowledging his influence. Most of the self-help books that I have read merely regurgitate his ideas using modern, NLP-influenced terminology and up to date examples. Many of today’s motivational gurus are slick, polished performers well versed in the persuasive arts (take a look at the YouTube clips of Napolean Hill and you’ll see he was none of these things), but scratch beneath the surface and you soon discover that they add little to Dr Hill’s original work.

But here’s the rub. On the surface, TAGR appears to be about financial success, but look a little deeper and you realise it’s much more. ‘Riches’ do not just consist of money – they are anything just and worthwhile that your heart desires. Dr Hill said so himself.  Health, happiness, friendship, peace of mind, love… all are ‘riches’, subject to the same principles of acquisition.

Can we think and grow rich? Certainly. And as Dr Hill concluded, ‘when riches begin to come, they come so quickly and in such great abundance, that you will wonder where they have been hiding during all those lean years!’


© David Lawrence Preston, 22.2.2018

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How to Succeed at Anything

The formula for achieving anything you want is very straightforward, although it must be applied with determination and persistence.

Many years ago a millionaire businessman who had gone bankrupt several times and each time recovered to become a multi-millionaire  was asked what advice he would give to ambitious young people.  ‘Have a clear idea of what you want, he replied, and be prepared to pay the price to get it.’

By paying the price, of course, he meant committing the necessary time, energy and effort. But ‘price’ is the wrong word – they’re really an investment. Your investment in a successful future will pay off if you follow these eight clear steps.

 1.      Set clear goals.

 2.      Use the power of your mind – think positively, undo negative conditioning, build positive beliefs, and use your imagination to help you create the life you want.

 3.      Acquire the knowledge, qualities and new skills you need; become the person you need to be to realise your ambitions.

 4.      Evaluate your current situation.

 5.      Consider your options.

 6.      Take action – the right action, and lots of it. Put your heart and soul into it.

 7.      Monitor your progress and make adjustments if necessary.

 8.      Keep going. Plug into the power of persistence.

Put these eight steps together and you can’t fail.

©David Lawrence Preston, 2.7.2016

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Plug Into the Power of Patience and Persistence

‘Thousands of people have talent. I might as well congratulate you for having eyes in your head. The one and only thing that counts is, do you have staying power?’

Noel Coward

Whatever your talents, interests and ambitions, there is no substitute for the twin qualities of patience and persistence. History is awash with people who gave up when just a little more effort could have brought success.

There are also countless examples of courageous and far-sighted individuals who persisted against the odds. One was Charles Darrow. When he sent his idea for a new board game to Parker Brothers, they turned it down. They gave 52 reasons why the game would never sell. Nobody, they said, would be interested in a game about property trading. Darrow was persistent and eventually his invention, Monopoly, became the best selling game of all time.

In a famous passage in his book, ‘Think and Grow Rich,’ Dr Napolean Hill wrote that ‘Persistence is to success what carbon is to steel.’

There is a Japanese saying, ‘Fall down seven times, stand up eight.’ Do you have the strength and determination to get up each time you fall? Do you look upon problems as challenges to be faced and overcome?

Lasting results take time, especially if the goal is a challenging one. The creative process is like gardening: take care of the sowing, have faith in yourself and the process of life, and let nature do its work. Often you don’t know how well it’s going until weeks or months later. You can’t keep pulling a young plant up by the roots to check whether it’s still growing!

Once you’ve planted the seeds, there will be times when you’ll have to work hard, and times when it is better to sit back, observe and be patient. Simply do your best each day.

Stay open to new possibilities

Stay open to all possibilities. You may want things to happen in a certain way, but that may not be the best option for you. Keep an open mind – you never know what new opportunities will come your way.

Don’t limit yourself. Keep affirming and ‘visualising’ your future success and happiness, take consistent, steady action and allow the process to unfold.

‘When riches begin to come, they come so quickly, in such great abundance, that one wonders where they have been hiding during all those lean years.’ (Napolean Hill).

You may far exceed your expectations. So what if you don’t succeed first time? The obstacles don’t grow any bigger – but you do!

©David Lawrence Preston, 24.5.2016

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What You Must Do To Succeed

The tools for transforming your life are:

I – Intention

T – Thought.

I – Imagination.

A – Action.

Intention sets your course; thinking and imagination bring your mind into line with your ambitions; and action makes your goals reality.

The points below are in no particular order of priority – they’re all important.

  1. Keep your goals very clearly etched in your mind. Write them on a small card and keep it with you. Read it daily. Affirm silently and aloud that you can achieve them and are well on the way to doing so. Every morning and night, ‘visualise’ yourself (in clear detail) accomplishing your goal, and use autosuggestion.
  2. Be proactive. Take the initiative. Make things happen. ‘Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid.’ (Goethe)
  3. Identify your key result areas. In many fields, there are only a few – perhaps three or four – activities at which you must excel. It’s important to know what these are, and master them
  4. Plan carefully. Planning starts the process of translating your goals from ideas into something tangible. Included in your plan should be your long, medium and short-term goals. Long-term goals spell out your ultimate destination; medium goals are the major landmarks along the way; and short-term goals are your immediate priorities. Specify how you will set about achieving your goals and write it down. Read through the plan regularly to assess whether you’re on course. If not – make adjustments. But remember, no plan should ever be cast in stone. If it turns out to be impractical, change course. A good plan is not restrictive, but allows for every likely contingency.
  5. Assess risk. You may need to take a few risks, but risk taking doesn’t mean being foolhardy: weigh up the odds and if there’s a good chance of success have a go. Do your homework.
  6. Teamwork: Most achievements involve working with others to accomplish a goal. You’re unlikely to have all the information, skills, resources and contacts that you need. Find people who can help. Working with a team enables you to plug the gaps in areas where you’re relatively weak, generate more and better ideas than you could alone, gain access to resources you do not have and benefit from synergy – (the ‘2+2=5’ effect).  And most importantly, make sure that everyone in your team benefits.
  7. Go the extra mile. Give a little extra. Look for ways of doing more than is expected of you. Your ‘customers’ will come back for more and will recommend you to others.
  8. Learn from your ‘failures’ – everyone has them. Every successful person knows that each so-called ‘failure’ contains within it the seeds of success – providing you can spot them and turn them to your advantage. Thomas Edison tried for years to perfect the electric light bulb despite being told by the best scientific minds of the day that it was impossible to get light from electricity. After approximately five thousand attempts, a journalist asked him why he was risking his reputation on such a futile exercise. ‘You don’t understand the way the world works,’ he replied. ‘I haven’t failed at all. I’ve just found five thousand ways it won’t work. Each one takes me closer to discovering the way it will’. View setbacks merely as inconvenient and keep going.
  9. Don’t be a DOPE – ‘Driven by Other People’s Expectations’. Many people deny their own potential because listen to the wrong people. Dr Albert Einstein offered the following advice: ‘Be independent of the opinion of others.’ Share your dreams only with people who have high aspirations of their own. They’ll understand.
  10. Time management: success depends a great deal on how you use your time. You’ve heard it said that ‘time is money’, and this is partly true, but with two important differences: You can’t save time to spend another day; and no matter how much time you’ve wasted in the past, you’ve still got now… and tomorrow… and the day after that…
  11. Monitor your results. If you’re making headway – fine. Keep going. Carry out some fine-tuning if necessary. But if you’re not, be honest with yourself. Find out where you’re going wrong and make adjustments.
  12. Never, never give up. Determination and perseverance are probably the main distinguishing qualities of successful people.

©David Lawrence Preston, 21.3.2016

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