Book Review: Think and Grow Rich (1937)

Motivational classic still inspires
by Napoleon Hill
1937, Ballantine Books (1996 edition), 254 pages

NapoleonDuring my early prime-time adulthood, being wrapped in the Ayn Rand critique of impure reason, I dissed any popular ideas that promised riches and happiness through positive thinking, motivational savvy, or winning friends and influencing people.

Such exercises seemed far beneath my heroic noodling out of all the important, planet-saving concepts with my engineering brilliance, then riding off into the smog-filled sunset with the Dagny Taggart of my dreams.

How times have changed, how we’ve all changed.

This inspirational classic by Napoleon Hill is still as pertinent to success as when it was written, during the depths of The Great Depression (1937).

But Hill does not concern himself with government fiscal policy.  He understands the prime mover in the equation of prosperity, not to mention survival, is how we think of ourselves.  Hence the title Think and Grow….

I’m reminded of a wall hanging showing a kitten looking into a mirror in which a large, full-maned lion stares back.  The caption reads, “What matters is how we see ourselves.”

Hill’s method is to study the mental habits and qualities of several well-known Americans who had been successful in business, men such as Andrew Carnegie and Henry Ford.  What they held in common was the unyielding image of success.

Further they had mastered the process of placing that image of success in their subconscious minds.  So, there was simply no question they would achieve what they imagined, what they “thought.”  Then Hill provides techniques for building that image.

But there’s more to it than that.  Successful people also are found to have the following characteristics:

• A deep, burning desire for what their actions will yield
• A definiteness of purpose, set in writing
• Written goals and a written plan to achieve them
• Victory over cravings, anxieties, and any character issues

Hill demonstrates a number of practical techniques for addressing each of the above areas.  He further elaborates on the quality of creative imagination, which fuels the inventive or wealth-generative process.  Successful people—in those days, they were practically all men—have this quality.

Finally, the author describes a social element to success, the Master Mind.  The Master Mind is essentially a support group, individuals who have the same fundamental outlook on life and can help with feedback of positive energy.  Winning at life is a lot easier when surrounded by positive people.  And vice versa.

What I take away from Think and Grow Rich are a number of habits that I’ve been able to cultivate toward achievement of my material and spiritual goals.  It occurs to me the principles are also useful for the freedom movement, whether one is running for office or fighting for voluntary community in general.

I use the affirmations and auto suggestion techniques, and envision a “free, benevolent, rational, and prosperous country by the end of 2015.”  It’s way doable.

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