"If you can't do great things, do small things in a great way."
― Napoleon Hill
"Think and Grow Rich" by Napoleon Hill — the book I found during my day at the library — was first published in 1937 and as I mentioned before, is still considered to be one of the best books for business and personal success ever written. The book is the culmination of two decades of research, in which Napoleon Hill studied some of the world’s most successful people and started to notice that all those people had become extremely successful in life by doing certain things in a certain way. "Think and Grow Rich" is essentially a culmination of those specific principles for success. Highly accomplished businessmen and young, budding entrepreneurs alike still praise Hill's teachings, written over 15 chapters. What’s all the fuss about and why does "Think and Grow Rich" remain so popular in the business world? Let me break it down:
These are extremely brief synopses of each chapter and really does not do the book any real justice. They're to give you an overall idea of the subject matter. The book, "Think and Grow Rich," in its entirety, can be found here.
Chapter 1: "Thoughts Are Things"
The first chapter is just a collection of anecdotes demonstrating when a person’s thoughts have resulted in real world effects. The focus of these stories is to grab the readers' attention to show that determination and desire are attributes that pretty much anyone can have.
Step 1: Desire
In the beginning of this chapter you'll feel some serious trepidation, fearing that the first step towards success is merely to want something. Anyone can do that! But as you complete the chapter you'll realize that's not totally the case. Hill elaborates to say that one should use deep desire to set your goal and keep it in place. Is there a certain job you want? A bank account filled with money? Define that goal clearly and concisely, then write down the specific plan to get to those goals.
Step 2: Faith
I cringed at the title of this chapter since I have a certain contempt for organized religion. But here we are, two chapters in, and GOD has to be brought into the mix. Not quite. Hill isn’t really referring to a higher power by any means, but instead referring to faith that you need to believe in that the future holds better things for you: a genuine confident outlook. If you truly believe that the future holds greater things for you, then your future has a greater likelihood of providing those things. Why? Because they're always on your mind and you'll pay more attention to the factors and causes that will make them happen for you.
Step 3: Autosuggestion
This chapter could have been titled "Self-Hypnosis." The idea here is that if you keep repeating to yourself the plan for success you formulated using the steps in Chapter 2 (Desire), the chances of them actually coming true are greater. Why? Like the last chapter, this procedure embeds a thought deep within yourself using repetition that increases the likelihood that the thought will come up at the right place, right time.
Step 4: Specialized Knowledge
Probably my favorite chapter because of this quote: “The jack-of-all-trades seldom is good at any. Concentrate all of your efforts on one definite chief aim.” An education is important, but Hill goes above and beyond to point out that having specialized knowledge in one area is far more important than general knowledge in all areas, and that usually requires hands-on experience with a mentor in your field of study.
Step 5: Imagination
Imagination is what's needed to take a vague idea and turning that idea into something more concrete and useful. For a lot of people, this the step that is a stumbling block on their path to success. They know their goal, they understand where they are now, but then lack the imagination required to establish the path between point A and point B.
Step 6: Organized Planning
This is an extremely important chapter. Hill provides various steps on how you can effectively “plan” to be successful – basically, how to put other pieces into place beyond just thinking about them that will ultimately lead to your success. #1) Surround yourself with a team of people who not only have knowledge of how to go down the path you want to go, but also care about helping you down that path. #2) Having a kickass resume that will get you the job you need to start working your way towards success. #3) Do your job, and do it well! #4) Practice all the traits Hill lists for strong leadership skills. Hill makes it a point to say that in the end, your dreams will take a lot of hard work.
Step 7: Decision
When it comes time to make a decisions, make it! Don't delay. Don't delegate to others or ask of their opinion. This is what makes a leader and a person that others will follow. When the chips are on the table be decisive and stick with your decision.
Step 8: Persistence
Persistence, as defined in the book, is knowing you’re on the right path for you and you won’t allow a few mis-steps or stumbles along the way to keep you from achieving your end goal. Many people give up the first time they’re dealt a blow, not realizing how close they could have been to achieving success. The point of the chapter: don’t let a few bumps in the road keep you from staying on the path even when they may seem like huge obstacles that you are going to have incredible difficulty surpassing.
Step 9: Power of the Master Mind
This chapter really expands on sub-step #1 of Step 6 ("Surround yourself with a team of people who not only have knowledge of how to go down the path you want to go, but also care about helping you down that path"). In the words of Jack Donaghy from the TV Show, "30 Rock": "I like to think of myself as a winner, and I like to surround myself with winners." This group of people should include as many smart people — smarter than you — that you know, especially those you trust well enough of whom you can bounce ideas off.
Step 10: The Mystery of Sex Transmutation
Strange chapter and the only one I didn't like. The premise is to tap into your sex drive in order to propel yourself to further success by suppressing your sexual desires and using that energy towards achieving your goal. God forbid your goal is to get laid more.
Step 11: The Subconscious Mind
Whenever you think negatively about your goals, immediately and forcefully stress to yourself that not only are those thoughts a waste of your time, it pulls the dream out of your grasp. Rather, you need to make an effort to think in positive ways about your plan, and train your mind to not conjure negative thoughts about achieving success. This, again, goes back to positive thinking and autosuggestion.
Step 12: The Brain
Intriguing chapter title. Overall Hill says you need to train your brain to pick up on non-verbal clues that people send all the time about what they’re actually thinking. Putting for the extra effort into deciphering those cues will pay enormous dividends to you in the long run.
Step 13: The Sixth Sense
Totally lost me here; worst chapter in the book in my opinion. Hill insinuates that you should be able to read peoples' minds and pick up on what they're thinking. He tries to expand on "The Brain" chapter, but goes a little too far with the New Age, mind reading bullshit. I think what he's really trying to get across is to take the time to just sit back, close your eyes, relax, and slip away in thought — or he could have simply said: meditate.
Chapter 15: The Six Ghosts of Fear
Hill lists the six primary fears that cripple people's lives and prevent them from being successful. They are:
- Ill Health
- Lost Love
- Old Age
The value of this book is solely going to depends on the person reading. If you're looking for a "get-rich-quick" scheme, then look elsewhere. If you're wishing to get through a rough patch in your life, needing to move forward in your career, or wanting to gain a who new way of thinking to set yourself up for complete success, then read this book cover to cover. The book has one common objective: to build confidence. The answer to what people need in their life is already in their head — this book just gives you the confidence to take the steps to achieve that goal.
*** Note: A copy of this book, in its entirety, can be found here. ***