Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill
This blog is about the history and impact of Think and Grow Rich, the personal development book by Napoleon Hill. It is part of a 3-part series about the book. Part 2 offers a summary of Think and Grow Rich, and Part 3 offers a Think and Grow Rich action plan to help you use the concepts to dramatically improve your own life.
The Impact of Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich
Many of the most successful books about personal achievement are written as a good story. They’re enigmatic, philosophical, and interesting to read. Think and grow Rich is no exception. In truth, although it is not Napoleon Hill’s most comprehensive work, it is his most widely read. With over 120 million copies sold to date it is rated among the top 5 books about success.
Napoleon Hill certainly has his detractors, doubters, and adversaries. But his enthusiasts and devotees far outweigh his antagonists. Tony Robbins, Jimmy Fallon, Mark Cuban, Oprah Winfrey, and even the late Bruce Lee of martial arts fame have been positively influenced by the book, along with thousands of other entrepreneurs.
The Origin of Think and Grow Rich
Think and Grow Rich was inspired by one of America’s greatest industrialists, Andrew Carnegie. He challenged Napoleon Hill to discover the secrets of success known by the most successful entrepreneurs of the time.
Carnegie was born penniless and transformed himself into a millionaire, and in Hill’s words, “It was Mr. Carnegie’s idea that the magic formula, which gave him a stupendous fortune, ought to be placed within reach of people who do not have time to investigate how men make money.”
Hill was a young journalist when Carnegie laid down the gauntlet: spend the next 20 years researching the philosophy of success, without compensation; and in return, Carnegie would introduce the him to the wealthiest and most successful men of the time. Hill accepted the challenge, and interviewed 500 self-made millionaires to learn the secrets of their success. Napoleon Hill distilled what they knew down to a formula in his 1937 masterpiece Think and Grow Rich.
Napoleon Hill’s hardships
Napoleon Hill’s early childhood was anything but illustrious. He grew up in a 2-room log cabin, and his mother passed away when he was 10. His first marriage at the age of 15, as well as his second, both ended in disaster. He was no stranger to adversity, privation, and poverty. Before Hill became a prolific writer in the early twentieth century, he had numerous unsuccessful business ventures including:
- Timber speculator
- Lumber company executive
- Magazine publisher
- Candy company principle
New Thought Author
Napoleon Hill begin to excel once he affiliated with the New Thought Movement. Also known as “Higher Thought”, this philosophy argues that Infinite Intelligence, God, is everywhere and that the true nature of humans is spiritually inspired. Divinity dwells within everyone and our mental states govern what we manifest. Or to put it another way: New Thought says that we are the masters of our own destiny, and our thoughts and actions are directly responsible for our success (or lack thereof).
Other New Thought authors
- James Allen
- Thomas Troward
- William W Atkinson
- Orison Swett Marden
- Earl Nightingale
- Marianne Williamson
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Norman Vincent Peale
- Deepak Chopra
- Dale Carnegie
- Louise L Hay
- Wallace D Wattles
- Genevieve Behrend
Law of Attraction
The New Thought movement survives to this day and lays the foundation for what’s called the Law of Attraction. There are numerous authors, philosophers, and personal success coaches who have been directly influenced by the movement.
Napoleon Hill published numerous books in the New Thought genre. He almost single handedly created the entire self-help and business-success industry. Many personal development gurus like Bob Proctor and Tony Robbins base their books, seminars, and personal coaching on the teachings of Napoleon Hill.
One of the most acclaimed sensations in the early 21st century was the book and movie, The Secret. It popularized the idea of “The Law of Attraction”. If you’re a Netflix subscriber here’s the Link. The entire work is based almost exclusively on the tenants proclaimed in Napoleon Hill’s 1937 classic, Think and Grow Rich.
Understanding the Success of Think and Grow Rich
Other books by Napoleon Hill like The Laws of Success are more comprehensive but have not sold as well. Why? Because in Think and Grow Rich, Hill puts you in the role of a detective and makes you investigate the book looking for hidden clues.
He does this by telling you in the introduction that there is a “secret” in the book which you as the reader will have to uncover for yourself. He proclaims that if you are ready to find it, you will find hints in each chapter to help you unlock it. If you can discover the “secret”, Hill promises that you will lead a life of success and abundance. He made the self-help book into a mystery.
A Captivating Story
Another reason this book has reached so many readers is that Napoleon Hill is a great storyteller. He repeatedly uses stories to make his point. Hill masterfully intertwines all thirteen principles for success in the book with historical references and stories. They’re delivered in an intriguing and captivating manner.
The Key to Wealth
The greatest error most students make when reading Think and Grow Rich is to take the title to heart. They get sucked in to the idea that the physical universe is governed exclusively by thought. They believe they can change their lives just by thinking, without coupling thought with action.
It’s true that Hill places a high premium on thinking creatively. But thinking alone doesn’t manifest success. Imagine what Tesla, the electric car company, would be like today if the visionary who started it never took action. Elon Musk envisioned a car that required no hydrocarbons to operate. But if he had stopped there, with just the thought, nothing would have happened.
Instead, he transformed the automobile industry by taking persistent, bold and decisive action over a period of years. In fact, Hill talks about this explicitly: “Opportunity has spread its wares before you. Step up to the front, select what you want, create your plan, put the plan into action, and follow through with persistence.” Action without thought leaves you spinning your wheels, but thought without action isn’t any better.
Over and over throughout the book, Napoleon Hill emphasizes taking action to execute your plan. He devotes an entire chapter to persistence.
Develop a Plan
Very early in the book, Hill asks the reader to perform a very detailed six step exercise. In this exercise, you will develop and write down a clear, step by step, systematic approach to achieving your desired results.
It’s tough to over-emphasize Hill’s key point: thought is critical, belief is critical; but to become wealthy, you have to take action.
Get the Book
If you want to have so much money that you don’t even think about it, then you owe it to yourself to read the book. You can find free copies online, but we’ve always found that a hard copy is very helpful for analyzing and taking notes (and you’ll want to take notes). Here’s a link to the Amazon page (affiliate link).
Author: Napoleon Hill
Date Published: 1937
Page count: 400pgs
Get the most from Napoleon Hill’s Think and Grow Rich
One of the most important principles that Napoleon Hill discusses in Think and Grow Rich is the concept of the Mastermind. A Mastermind is a group of like-minded individuals who have come together in a spirit of perfect harmony to achieve a specific objective.
Why is this so powerful? Because we become like the people we surround ourselves with. Self-made millionaire Steve Siebold puts it this way: “Exposure to people who are more successful than you are has the potential to expand your thinking and catapult your income. We become like the people we associate with, and that’s why winners are attracted to winners.”
If you want to catapult your income, then joining the Wealth Creation Mastermind is the next step. We’re a group of like-minded entrepreneurs working to think and act in a way that generates abundance. If that appeals to you, then we highly recommend you fill out the ‘Join The Mastermind’ form found on this page.