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A Twenty First Century Christian Review of Napoleon Hill’s "Think & Grow Rich" Part One
In this article I will cover the Bible’s advice on acquiring wealth, a brief biographical sketch of Napoleon Hill, followed by a survey of his thoughts on business success. The reader will be amazed at some of Hill’s outlandish and common-sense ideas on how to get rich. This section will focus on the positive contribution that Hill made. Part two (separate article) I will explain the negative and real risks in Hill’s philosophy of success.
To begin this review, I would be remiss as a Christian to refer to the biblical admonitions against the “deception of riches” Matt. 13:22 and the warning of our Lord that “you cannot serve God and Mammon” Luke 16:13. As Christians we are told to “seek first the kingdom of God” Matt. 6:33. If there is any confusion at this point I don’t see money as a bad thing. The difference I see is expressed by the apostle Paul when he tells us that “The love of money is the root of all evil” 1 Tim 6:10.
If the reader wants to take anything away from this review, it should be how to approach the subject of acquiring wealth and success and excellence in business by being aware of the personal motives behind this desire. Are you influenced by the ways of this world? Think about this: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?” Mark 8:36.
As Christians, we should seek success and success in our endeavors not only to be a witness to Christ, but also to bring glory to God. The Bible gives us instructions about life, if we follow it, it will lead to poverty. Negatively, we are not even a “narrow” Prove. 20:4 nor “love sleep” Prov. 20:13. Positive: “…diligent hands bring wealth” Prov. 10:4 “The plans of the diligent lead to profit…” Prov. 21:5. And finally, from Prov. 31:10-31; It is a compliment to a noble or noble woman.
To begin this review, let me first state that I find in Napoleon Hill’s book some positive guidelines for achieving success and success in business. On the contrary, there are passages and materials in Hil’s book that are against Christian belief and practice that the reader should be aware of. I will first provide a brief biographical sketch and then examine some of the positive material in the book. In the final chapter I will point out some biblically speaking problem areas of Hill’s theories. This review relates only to Hill’s book “Think & Grow Rich” and not to his work over the years, although I will comment on that.
Napoleon Hill was born on October 26, 1883 and died on November 8, 1970. Napoleon Hill is the father of what can be described as personal success or motivational literature. Hill’s biographer, Michael J. Ritt, Jr., tells us that he was born into poverty in a one-room house in the rural town of Pound, Virginia. At the age of 13, he started writing for small town newspapers. He used his earnings as a reporter to get into law school, but had to drop out for financial reasons.
The turning point in his career came with his assignment to write a series of articles on famous men and to interview wealthy industrialist Andrew Carnegie. Hill learned that Carnegie believed that the process of success could be explained in a simple formula that the average person could learn and practice. Carnegie was impressed by Hill and later hired him and provided him with letters of reference to interview over 500 successful men and women to discover and publish this formula for success. This project continued for 20 years and resulted in Hill becoming a Carnegie consultant and publishing “Think & Grow Rich.” The insights gleaned from interviews with industry leaders is where you find the value of Hill’s book.
It is surprising how few of Hill’s ideas are used as quotations for practical encouragement. Some of Napoleon Hill’s most famous quotes are:
o Think and grow rich
o Desire is the starting point of all achievements, not hope, not a desire, but a desperate desire that overcomes everything.
o Your great opportunity may not be right where you are right now
o If you can’t do big things, do small things in a big way
o A goal is a dream with a deadline
o Lack of loyalty is one of the main reasons for failure in any walk of life
o Patience: Most men face failure due to their lack of persistence in making new plans to replace the failed ones.
o Every hardship carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit
o Ideas mixed with clarity of purpose, persistence and burning desire are powerful things
o Most men fail because of their lack of persistence in creating new plans to replace those that fail.
o First comes the idea; then the organization of that thought, in thoughts and plans; then turning those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will see, is in your imagination
o If you don’t learn when you earn, you’re cheating yourself of the better part of your payoff.
o It is absolutely true that you can succeed better and faster by helping others succeed
We see that most of Hill’s book is an analysis of the capitalist system in America and how it works. Hill believed he had discovered a principle that allowed regular everyday people to achieve success. Hill called his success teachings the “Philosophy of Success” and considered freedom, democracy and capitalism as important factors in his discovery. Hill’s ideas would not work in a Marxist or centrally planned economy because tyrannical regulation and taxation would eliminate the ability of anyone to work for success because the fruits of success would be given to others who would spoil it, because that it has no fundamental value for them. . Hill believed in personal integrity and in not deceiving his friends and employees. A deceitful or dishonest person will eventually be seen for what he is. A leader must be a moral and ethical person.
Hill believed that you can achieve success by doing a better job, always treating your customers as number one and how a person can be successful if he overcomes his personal shortcomings. Hill also includes a lot of good, practical business advice like finding new opportunities created by what we would today call disruptive technologies. Also key, according to Hill, is to have a written business plan and stick to it, while not being afraid to make mistakes until you grow and learn from them. If you find that your strategy is in error, you should be able to redo your plans. Hill believed that most people never succeed simply because they lack ambition or self-discipline. Regarding discipline, Hill said: “If you don’t conquer yourself, you will conquer yourself.” Today there is a course on business success called Personal Mastery that was influenced by Hill’s research.
The beginning of Hill’s philosophy first started with an idea, hence the title “Think & Grow Rich”. First you mentally make a plan. It requires desire, belief and passion, (definitely necessary for success) self-suggestion (controversial area of his research) acquisition of specialized knowledge, (very helpful) use of imagination, (parts of this are very controversial) organized planning, (many helpful) decision making, persistence, dominant mind set, (chapters in this chapter are very helpful) shifting the last three areas, the subconscious mind and finally the brain are very controversial and proven. One thing is certain; Thoughts definitely have consequences. In this regard, the success of the business that first starts with an idea cannot be questioned.
As mentioned, there are many positive ideas in “Think & Grow Rich”, such as organized planning, and finding a group of like-minded people, and then turning those plans into reality. Hill believed that all successful people were successful because they could find like-minded people who could count on them in a business venture. Then their skills, talents and enthusiasm can be used for the benefit of the business enterprise. “Don’t hang out with people who don’t think like you,” Hill basically says. Avoid negative people because their negativity will affect you. Our parents were right to warn us to hang around with the wrong crowd.
Hill’s business success ideas focus on goal setting and making sure decisions are consistently implemented. In terms of accountability, this means that you are responsible for your results, and it is important that failure is not something to fixate on. Everyone has failures, and we should learn from them, including knowing what caused them. Most failures involve a failure to see, or a failure to plan to take advantage of a new situation that may have arisen. A person who focuses on success should not focus on failure. We can learn from mistakes and grow. Mistakes can be successes.
Hill’s thoughts on leadership are well thought out. His eleven points on leadership qualities are excellent and exactly the qualities you would expect any business leader to have. Similarly, the top ten causes of leadership failure are also very insightful. The 31 main reasons for failure are his points that are surprisingly true for anyone who tries and fails in business. His 28 questions for self-analysis help to avoid deception. However, his teaching on the transference of sexual energy may have offended or shocked many people into thinking that sexism appears. According to Hill, it is true that sexual energy can be creative energy and not just lost in empty physical activities. It is also true to admit that behind every great man there is usually a great woman.
Some of the many positive things that can be learned from “Think and Grow Rich” can be summed up in a few of his thoughts related to business, such as “Failure to plan is planning to fail”, “About: Most men meet. failure is due to their lack of persistence in creating new plans to replace those who fail, “A quitter never succeeds, and a winner never quits”, “It’s true that you can do your best with the help of others and succeed faster. succeed” and “A man who does more than he deserves will soon be paid more than he deserves.” Hill’s philosophy of success was to a large extent in the real world, as he said. found that: “Wealth does not respond to requests. They respond only to definite plans, backed by definite demands, with constant persistence,” and “Great success often results from great rewards, and is never the result of selfishness.”
As the reader works their way through the book, they will see that much of Hill’s work is related to setting goals, and making sure that important decisions are made and thus ensure your success. Hill says you have to put your plans into action. Hill believed that a group of people on the same wavelength and positively focused is significantly greater than a group of disorganized individuals. Of all the successful leaders Hill interviewed, they all attributed their success to finding opportunities, and most importantly, finding people who could be assigned to achieve success. It’s not enough to work hard, you also need to find passionate people, and motivate them to work as a team to get things done.
This idea of hiring and motivating people to be assigned different tasks reminds me of what J. Paul Getty once wrote, “I want to get 100% more than 100 men put in.” Much of the material in Hill’s book has been very helpful to those involved in network marketing. To illustrate this, Hill said: “It is absolutely true that you can succeed better and faster by helping others succeed.” People involved in the Network Marketing industry will understand this concept.
Hill tried to organize the steps of success in this book and to a large extent he succeeded if people connected his work with real world or emotional thoughts. In my next article I will look at some of the dangers of Hill’s work. Stay tuned!
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